In many ways, the modern luxury sports and tool watch segments are about giving the wearer a piece of an adventurous fantasy. These fantasies could include mountain climbing, scuba diving, piloting a fighter jet, or driving a race car, but one of the most enduring and captivating watchmaking fantasies of all is space exploration. “As worn by astronauts” has been a powerful marketing phrase for as long as the world has sent people to space, and Swiss tool watch specialist Fortis has a deep legacy in this field with the Russian space program. For its latest release, Fortis is once again returning to space exploration and supplying the crew members of the upcoming AMADEE-20 mission. Organized by the Austrian Space Forum, AMADEE-20 will not be sending astronauts into space, but will instead send a team of scientists into the barren Negev Desert of Israel to conduct field tests and experiments in full space suits to help pave the way for future manned missions to Mars. With a tough, functional design and a tangible part to play in the advancement of Martian exploration, the new Fortis AMADEE-20 does more than capture the spirit of space travel, it walks the walk as well.
The bold 44mm case of the Fortis AMADEE-20 is finished entirely in sandblasted titanium, providing a lightweight surface without harsh and potentially distracting reflections. The case design itself is simple and utilitarian, with long tapering lugs and a simple cylindrical mid case topped by what the brand refers to as the Mission Control Bezel. This unique take on a rotating countdown bezel adds an extra pointer and lume pip at the 10 minute mark of the scale, allowing AMADEE-20’s crew members to easily time the countdown and duration of a 10 minute procedure. This unique gray bezel insert aside, the rest of this case is classic Fortis, with oversized pushers flanking an unguarded screwdown crown. The caseback of the AMADEE-20 features a clean engraving of the orbits of Earth and Mars, flanked by the phrase “The next giant leap,” offering a hopeful look forward to mankind’s exploration of space. Fortis rates the AMADEE-20 at a hefty 200 meters of water resistance, which may not find too much use in the arid Negev Desert or the surface of Mars, but this level of resistance does bode well for overall durability.
Interestingly, although the Fortis AMADEE-20 is design first and foremost as a functional tool for future astronauts, the dial offers more than a handful of stylistic flourishes. Chief among these flourishes is the dial surface itself, with a medium gray tone evenly split between vertical brushing and an embossed radial pattern. The 12 o’clock chronograph subdial adds a sunburst finish into the mix, which should make for dynamic light play on the wrist. The AMADEE-20 mission patch at 6 o’clock also adds a punch of color and style to the tool -oriented design, while the functional elements of the dial are designed for utility first. The hands are simple lumed swords, paired with an arrow-tipped blue chronograph seconds hand and an oversized chronograph minutes counter for easy measurements at a glance. Likewise, the applied Arabic numerals are cleanly legible and function forward, with a robust lume fill.
Inside the Fortis AMADEE-20 beats the Valjoux 7750-based UW-50 automatic chronograph movement. Beyond deleting the 7750’s standard 12 hour register at 6 o’clock, the UW-50 offers similar performance to the legendary workhorse chronograph movement, with a 48 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Fortis finishes the AMADEE-20 with a three link bracelet in matching sandblasted titanium with a sliding adjustable clasp. For a lighter and more mission-ready look, the brand also includes a custom Marine Nationale-like hook strap in sky gray fabric printed with the Fortis emblem.
Offering both a surprising amount of stylistic flair and a genuine connection to the future of Martian exploration, the Fortis AMADEE-20 is an intriguing modern entry into the gallery of space watch history. The Fortis AMADEE-20 is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of 3,600 CHF. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.