Fortis: Flying to New Heights

Fortis: Flying to New Heights

Walter Vogt founded Fortis in 1912. Four years after meeting John Harwood in 1922, Vogt along with Harwood developed the first automatic wristwatch. In 1929, a British journalist wore one of these automatic watches aboard the airship Graf Zeppelin on its first world tour. Lady Drummond-Hay was the only female aboard during this flight.

Fortis changed direction a little bit in the 1930s to manufacture its first chronographs. In 1956, Fortis won the chronometer award of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute COSC for being the first waterproof mechanical alarm chronometer.


Fortis went back to its roots in the 1980s, focusing on aviation watches. The mechanical watch is the most important instrument for pilots. Fortis decided the core elements suited for an aviation watch are unparalleled, clear readability, double-sided anti-reflective sapphire glass, and extreme pressure resistance. In 1987, Fortis created the Flieger Chronograph, which set a new trend with oversized watch cases. The decision to use 40mm cases was honored in 2004 with the first European Aviation Watch Award.

By setting two altitude records, Fortis has been made to be the first choice instrument for pilots and over 60 squadrons worldwide, including the Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team. Also, the Russian Federal Space Agency ROSCOSMOS has named Fortis as the official timekeeper for its missions after the watches passed endurance tests at a physical limit and in open space.

-Brittany Sims