Page and Cooper Welcome Fortis Swiss Watches
At Page and Cooper we always keep an ear out for our ‘bush telegraph’ to start humming, heralding as it does some new happening in the world of watchmaking. So when we heard that there was a new team in place at legendary watchmaker Fortis, in the best tradition of Sherlock Holmes, we set out to investigate.
It goes without saying that if you know watches, you have to know Fortis watches. The company has a truly illustrious and innovative watchmaking history and is still proudly independent after more than 100 years of trading. Space does not permit a full listing of all the awards won by Fortis but a few of them, landmark achievements are listed below:
The world’s first factory producing automatic watches (Harwood).
The official watch of the Russian Space Programme since 1994.
The brand that holds the record for the longest operation in weightless conditions (100,000 orbits).
The world’s only Chronograph Automatic Alarm.
Chrono Award, Austria Premium class F-43 Fleiger Alarm.
The list goes on and on…and on!
Fortis are the company which recognised the vision of Englishman John Harwood in developing the automatic wrist watch and introduced it at the 1926 Basel Trade Fair.
But enough of the past, what about the future of Fortis? A short flight to Zurich followed by a super smooth train journey found us at the foot of the Jura Mountains, in the village of Grenchen, home of Swiss watchmaking.
Grenchen may be small, but within its borders are to be found some of the most prestigious names in the business. Eterna and Breitling are but two and Eta, the world’s most powerful movement makers also operate out of Grenchen. As we step down from the train we see the beautiful Fortis factory. The original building opened in 1912 and it is still here, but much enlarged. Walking through the front doors we feel that this step back in time is like going back to school after a long absence. There is a sense, and a smell, of history here and it is here that Fortis have assembled a superb collection of watches and other artefacts.
Page and Cooper have been invited here as guests of the new Fortis CEO, Max Spitzy. At our meeting he impresses us with his clear and concise vision of returning the company to its core values of elegant and precise watchmaking with clarity of vision and concept.
Accompanied by Max we take a tour of this wonderfully evocative building. Walls are lined with adverts and posters in gorgeous art deco style but these have to compete for space with complete cosmonaut suits which have travelled into space with Fortis watches. There are signed photographs and posters of famous Fortis owners from the Rolling Stones to Ducati World Super Bike Champion Carl Forgery and from American astronauts to Russian cosmonauts.
We enter the watchmaking room. Our guide here is Franz Forster, for many years Senior Watchmaker with Fortis watches. We are personally introduced to many second and third generation specialist watchmakers, and shown the whole Fortis process from start to finish with nothing held back. It is essential at Page and Cooper that we have an intimate knowledge of manufacturing processes and we can answer any questions our customers may have.
Mr Forster explains to us in great detail the Fortis Alarm Chronograph. The requirement for this instrument actually came via a request from Russian cosmonauts. Whilst planning extended trips living in a space environment they needed an accurate and independent method of reminding themselves of particular tasks to be undertaken. All activities being timed and run to a strict schedule. The stipulation was that the alarm model should not enlarge the regular chronograph and should be completely free from all electrical systems.
The Fortis Mechanical Alarm actually makes a feature of an independent barrel which means that the alarm module has a self-source for power which will not influence the timekeeping of the watch. Developed with the assistance of noted horological expert Paul Gerber, the most complex interpretation of this movement features the alarm, the chronograph, with GMT function and its own power reserve indicators for the alarm and with movements all regulated to COSC standards.
During our in-depth meetings at Fortis it became apparent to both Max Spitzy and Jonathan Bordell that both Fortis and Page and Cooper share a clear vision of modern watchmaking for the 21st Century. At the conclusion of our conversations we were thrilled to be invited to become not only an exclusive Fortis dealer but also the company’s authorised UK distributor and after sales partner.
So, if you are an existing Fortis owner, or are interested in becoming one please feel free to contact us we’re here to help!