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Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On

Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In 2012 Fortis released this lovely “Vintage” edition of the Marinemaster (that we first wrote about here). It troubles me a bit when brands use the term “vintage” as applied to a new watch. Is it just me or does that cause unnecessary confusion? What for example do you call the actual original Fortis Marinemaster that this timepiece is based on, the “actual Marinemaster Vintage?” I’m not entirely sure. Despite my meticulous focus on the meaning of words, I was glad to finally get a hands-on look at these watches. Limited to just 500 pieces in each of the two colors, in a few years these are going to be rather tricky to find.

You really don’t have too many new Fortis watches in all polished cases. That is one of the first things that stood out to me as unique about the Marinemaster Vintage (well it isn’t 100% polished). While brushed or sandblasted watches can look great, it is hard to resist the shiny appeal of a glossy piece of polished steel (or maybe gold for you extravagant types) on your wrist. So here you have it, a vintage-styles sport chronograph with a polished case and some color. The best way to enhance the look of polished areas is to place them next to non-polished areas, which Fortis does properly as the Marinemaster Vintage has brushed sides to the case. From the top or bottom it is all polished.

Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What many people will no doubt like are the mid-sized dimensions of the case. At 40mm wide, this is a rare item these days when it comes to a timepiece of this ilk. 42mm, 44m, or larger sport chronographs are easy to find, but a nice modern 40mm wide chronograph can be challenging to come across… I mean other than the Rolex Daytona. At about 15mm thick, the Marinemaster Vintage isn’t a small watch, but it does have a more comfortable stance on the wrist that I like. This Fortis doesn’t feel like a small watch though. Longer lugs and a rotating bezel that is not too thick helps keep it feeling reasonably sized.

There are a number of little details on the watch that help it feel vintage in addition to just the name and dial design. The polished case is one of those things for sure. Others are the simple piston-style chronograph pushers, as well as the glossy leather strap. Actually, the strap is nicely padded and looks quite fantastic. The contrast stitching is nice as well. One vintage element on the watch which some people will like and others will not is the acrylic crystal. The look of domed acrylic crystals is mimicked a lot today by sapphire crystals, but it is pretty uncommon for new high-end watches to have acrylic crystals. Though some people love them.

Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Acrylic has some pluses and minuses. Sapphire crystal is much more scratch resistant, and tends to be a bit clearer, though high-quality acrylic is pretty clear. Acrylic is hard, but it does scratch. The good news is that acrylic crystals can be cheaply and easily buffed out, and replaced very cheaply. Sapphire crystals must be replaced if there is an issue with them, and they of course cost more. The display window to the movement on the rear of the watch is however not acrylic.

Dial-wise you have a traditional 1970s Fortis Marinemaster design. Note the blocky elements as well as bright, high-contrast colors on the dial. This is 1970s sport watch incarnate right here. Fortis released both this orange tinted version, as well as one in blue. The dial is quite legible and I like the squared hands. While the hour indicators are nicely lumed, there are only thin strips of luminant on the actual hands. Around the periphery of the dial is a tachymeter scale. I doubt even in 1970 people were using these, but a lot of chronographs feel inclined to include them.

Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On Hands-On

While the name of the watch is Marinemaster, this piece isn’t a dive watch. Fortis has other options for you when it comes to that. The piece is water resistant to 50 meters, so we don’t recommend swimming with it. In true retro fashion, the rotating timing bezel has an aluminum insert ring. Though, it should work nicely as a sport watch. Honestly, this is a very pretty timepiece and I think a lot of people will be able to enjoy it.

Inside the watch Fortis uses their caliber 2020 automatic movement. This is a base ETA 2892 with a Dubois Depraz chronograph module on it. So you have the time and 12 hour chronograph as complications. In a purist fashion the dial does not contain a date indicator window – which while sacrificing a bit of functionality does lead to a very attractive and clean looking dial.

Fortis Marinemaster Vintage Limited Edition Watch Hands-On Hands-On

In addition to the Marinemaster Vintage being a “retro-redo,” it is part of Fortis’ 100th anniversary collection as the brand turned 100 years old in 2012. That little fact is indicated on the rear of the watch. An interesting tidbit of information for collectors. In total, 1000 pieces of the Marinemaster Vintage (ref. 800.20.80 L.01, aka 800.20.80 L) will be produced. That is 500 pieces in orange and 500 pieces in blue. Price is $4,600.

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  • Ulysses31

    Fortis were one of the first brands that got me into high-end watch appreciation, but this thing just looks like a Swatch chronograph or other generic fashion chrono.

  • Grinnie Jax

    This piece looks 10 times cheaper than its priced. Especially the poor movement look…

  • Me likey!!! Except for the ridiculous price, and the hour hand that is a bit too long. I like most 70’s inspired watches, including the Tudor Monaco so this fits in quite nicely.
    Knock 2.5 grand off the price and i’m in…


    I love all things about this what except for price.. I think Fortis watches are pretty overpriced

  • CG

    OK love it… but I am NOT wearing double knit brown pants, zipper boots and a big collar shirt to go with the “look”. Sorry not gonna happen.

  • DangerussArt

    Can we have a few more chapter rings and hash-marks? Jeebus, that’s crowded looking!  Marine”master” with 50m water resistance, that’s ironic.

  • SL66

    Nice design, not top quality and 4,500 for acrylic an whatever the movement window is made out of, you can get a Breitling Superocean for that price
    The way prices are going for watches low end or high end sounds to me that this market is topping out and ignorance is taking over. 20,000 + steel watches ??? 4,500 for a Fortis with Acrylic ???
    I just sold my VC Overseas after owning it for two year and a half and made 3 grand on it, and I am looking for value, maybe in other toys.
    Pretentious is out lets get real.

  • mcv1973a

    Could be worse.
    Could be a Hublot…

  • Piero

    Unfortunately it is a no go for me… 4600 usd for acrylic, no date, water resistant 50 m, 40 mm size… All characteristics that in my opinion are not fitting a sport watch. Plus i am not a fan of “limited edition” on the dials.

  • MichaelStockton

    $4600 is rough and “limited edition” on the dial is cheesy. Sorry to say but we’ll see these for $2500 sooner than later.

  • spiceballs

    Its OK (would like to see the blue one?) but have to agree with most others that for what it is (50m, acrylic, no date, ETA, leather/buckle, etc) again far too high a price, imo.

  • Grinnie Jax

    Why this watch doesn’t meet my personal nice deal criteria:
    1) It looks just very poor from the back – not only because of the fact that ETA 2892 is nothing to look at, it is crowded by all kinds of silly marketing stuff “ANNIVERSARY”, “LIMITED EDITION” + all possible numbers and words they can put on the back.
    2) Another trouble is that “FORTIS” logo and “…jewels swiss made…” don’t play together on its rotor: first one is straight and the second one is round. It seems, that they designed it quckly and with minimal efforts.
    3) It has no data! Why? Such an easy but such a useful complication…
    4) 5 bar waterresist for MARINEMASTER!! Can I accidentally put this MARINEMASTER under waterdrops while washing my hands? hah
    5) Acrylic crystal – no comments, its just scratch magnet. Headache every time you will put them on

    6) 40mm is not a sport watch size. I consider it to be from 42-44
    7) The price!.. 4600$ for such a lazy, unthought watch… Oh, Fortis

  • mcv1973a

    I get this horrible “bought this off the Armitron display at Walmart” vibe from this watch, and I should not be getting a vibe like that from a Fortis.
    There is so much more out there for a lot less money.

  • EdeaKrammer

    Large numbers of the watches Fortis makes are reasonably
    notorious in their designs, that is, generally simple, clean and functional
    pieces that could be acknowledged apparatus watches to individuals.  They likewise make some refined models that
    stray totally from their fundamental mission of dependable, gorgeous pieces.
    Generally speaking, the Fortis Marine master Vintage Limited Edition is well
    worth having out and is a fine addition to any collection.

  • Tekky

    “…acrylic crystals. Though some people love them.”
    Who?  Citation, please.

  • Scott Osborne

    i bought one of these watches last year thinking it was a nice watch but after finding it has an acrylic crystal that is raised above the crown i said this is a POS cheap made watch and i have never warn it so if anyone wants one let me know

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