By: Marc Shaffer
Fortis has been producing watches for over 100 years. With an exceptional history that covers inventing the first automatic mechanical watch to surpassing 100,000 orbits of planet earth, Fortis watches have a history few can emulate. You can read more about the Fortis story here.
My review is on the Fortis 597.20.71 M “Flieger” Stainless Steel Automatic Watch, a Fortis pilot’s watch, which I recently purchased.
The Fortis 597.20.71 M Flieger gives off an impression as one sweet pilot’s watch right out of the box. The watch just hits you with the quality of the fit and finish. I couldn’t wait to get it on my wrist. The packaging is about what you would expect from a watch in this category. It comes packaged in an outer and inner box. The outer box has the Fortis logo imprinted on the top of the box. The inner box contains the watch on a pillow, the warranty card and the instruction booklet. This is a Limited Edition watch and only 500 were made. My watch is number 156 of 500.
The dial is uncluttered considering that there is a chronograph and the day and date contained on the dial. Fortis used only a minimum of printing on the dial. The dial is a combination of the classic Flieger dial with the illuminated markers and distinctive pip at the 12 position and Arabic numerals. The skeletonized hands have luminosity on the tips. I would have preferred solid hands with full luminosity, but it is really a minor issue. I like the way the numerals are there but seem to disappear from the dial into the dial when viewed at the correct angle.
The numbers almost disappear off the dial. It is a very unique look. The main crown has a Fortis logo stamped on it. The crown is fairly large (8.5 mm) and easy to pull out to the various stops and a nice size to wind. The first stop sets the day and date. The second stop sets the time. The crown feels sturdy when extended and there is not any significant play in the stem. The crown does not screw down and the water resistance rating of this watch is limited to 100 meters. For me, that means this Fortis won’t go swimming with me and I will limit its exposure to water as much as possible. The pushers for the chronograph offer typical resistance and respond with a crisp click when a normal amount of pressure is applied.
The watch features a very detailed case back. The Limited Edition number is prominently displayed. The case houses a Valjoux 7750, and it might have been nice to offer an exhibition case back so that the owner could show off the movement. It also features a solidly made bracelet. The lug width is 20 mm and the bracelet tapers to 18 mm at the clasp.
I like the way the watch sits on the wrist. It is 15 mm high and slips under my dress shirt sleeves with ease. It is very comfortable to wear. I attribute the comfort to the fact that the smaller watch is lighter than its heavier competition. The luminosity is located at a spot under each number and on the tips of the partially skeletonized sword hands. I find this to be adequate for this watch.
Overall I found the Fortis 597.20.71 M Flieger to be a first class pilot’s watch. The fit and finish of the watch are excellent. The watch looks great and fits great. There is not much else you can ask for as you are getting a Swiss made watch with this overall build quality. I was a little concerned, at first, that the 40 mm watch might be a little small for my larger wrist. I know, from experience, that pilot’s watches tend to wear larger than divers because there is little or no bezel so that the face opening is larger on the average pilot’s watch than it is on the same diameter divers watch. This is certainly true in this case. The dial opening is more than adequate and there is absolutely no difficulty reading the time, day, or date on the dial of this watch. Retail: $3,825.
You can read more about the Fortis 597.20.71 M Flieger here.