In August 2020, tool watch specialist Fortis announced the first in a series of dramatic reshaping efforts aimed at its cornerstone Flieger pilot watch line. That first watch, the Flieger F-43 Bicompax, combined a mix of classic German pilot watch cues with diver elements, sharp angles, and a handful of unique character touches for a distinctive, utilitarian design. For the month of September, Fortis is expanding this revamped Flieger series with a pair of three hand pilots sized at 39mm and 41mm. With a simpler overall layout, the new Fortis Flieger F-39 and Fortis Flieger F-41 make a few tweaks to the F-43 Bicompax formula and appear to let the character flourishes of the base design shine through more clearly.
As the names would suggest, the stainless steel cases of the Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 are sized at 39mm and 41mm, respectively. Although there’s a slight scale difference, the two cases follow the same pattern. The overall form is a midpoint between classic diver and pilot designs, with a stark, angular sports watch case featuring long, tapering lugs and brushed slab case sides and a large unguarded crown. The 12-hour rotating bezel, on the other hand, trends more towards the diver side of the stylistic equation with a finely toothed coin edge. Like the F-43 Bicompax chronograph, the bezel insert for the Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 looks to be the real visual centerpiece of the design with a dramatic 45 degree inward slope that creates a bowl effect for the dial. This brushed insert also has the potential to be brightly reflective, so this bezel could become a real point of contention among enthusiasts. Both the Fortis Flieger F-39 and the Flieger F-41 are rated for a solid 200 meters of water resistance.
Like the cases, the dials of the Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 follow the template set by the Flieger F-43 Bicompax closely with a few major alterations. The black main dial, along with the raised outer minutes ring with Fortis’ signature applied Brixtrack lume blocks at the hours, is carried over more or less verbatim from the chronograph variant. Likewise, the angular lumed sword hands and contrasting fluorescent orange seconds hand are kept the same, but both the Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41 take a different approach than the chronograph when it comes to hour indices. While the rectangular lume blocks at the hours are maintained, Fortis supplements this on the new three-hand models with an inner printed hours scale in slim Arabic numerals. From initial images, this helps to keep the dial from feeling too empty, and especially in the smaller F-39 offers a sense of pleasing busyness that drives home the tool watch character of the design. Both variants also keep the gimmicky Synchroline highlight common to all Fortis Flieger designs. This livid orange outline running from 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock is intended to aid wearers in synchronizing with other watches, but in practice, this seems to be nothing that a hacking movement couldn’t handle.
Fortis powers both the Flieger F-39 and the Flieger F-41 with the UW-30 automatic movement. While the brand itself is quiet about the architecture of the UW-30, it is likely either an ETA 2824 or Sellita SW200 based movement with a relatively low 38-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
The blend between diver and pilot cues in the Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41’s designs continues through the brand’s strap offerings. Both models are available with a stainless steel three-link oyster style bracelet with a quickly adjustable sliding clasp. On the more traditional pilot side, Fortis also offers these models on a charcoal gray leather strap with bold rectangular stitching. Both options look to be solid and versatile companions to the overall design, with the leather feeling a bit more appropriate overall.
With the release of the Fortis Flieger F-39 and Flieger F-41, the brand continues to extend its next-generation interpretation of the utilitarian tool watch. Both the Fortis Flieger F-39 and the Fortis Flieger F-41 are available now through authorized dealers, wand both models carry a starting MSRP of 1,850 CHF. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.