It’s been a while since we’ve covered Astor+Banks here on aBlogtoWatch. Some brands simply fall off our radar, even if they’re absolutely killing it. I did review the Layer 2 from sister brand Sō Labs, but before that, the last thing we covered was in 2014, when A+B was making big pilot’s watches. The brand has come a long way since then, gradually shifting towards a more refined look that centers on its Fortitude line. I’ve been fortunate enough to handle every iteration of the Fortitude, and seeing its evolution from a too-thick-wearing model to something close to perfect has been incredible. The latest iteration is the Astor+Banks Fortitude Pro, which sees the model’s updated slim case refitted with a date display and offered in a slew of colors.

There’s a lot to love about the Fortitude Pro, but the first thing you notice on the wrist is how well it wears. The original Fortitude was a beautiful watch but was plagued on the wrist by the combination of a thin midcase and a thick caseback. That made it pop up on the wrist, unnecessarily tall. With the dateless Fortitude Lite, the midcase was expanded and the caseback reduced, eliminating this problem. The Fortitude Pro comes in at 11.9mm thick and continues the excellent wearability of the Lite. On the wrist, the 38.5mm case of the Pro is effortless, perfectly sized for almost everyone with a 45.5mm lug-to-lug. The 200m water resistance is too much and much appreciated, allowing this watch to be a true go-anywhere, do-anything model. That versatility and durability are reaffirmed with a hardness coating that significantly increases the steel’s scratch resistance.

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Most impressive, though, is the case finishing. Exceptionally crisp brushing yields to sharp, polished chamfers along the case, with well-defined transitions. The 20mm lugs are drilled, though the bracelet still lacks a quick-release mechanism. That said, the bracelet does have custom Y-links that deliver a great feeling on the wrist. The only shortcoming (perhaps of the entire watch) is the lack of a quick-adjust mechanism in the simple foldover clasp. As it is, the micro-adjustment holes are sufficient and I found the bracelet incredibly comfortable and attractive.

The Astor+Banks Fortitude Pro is offered in four colors: Sand, Polar (white), Viva Magenta, and Navy. The color of the Viva Magenta seen here is taken from Pantone’s 2023 color of the year, which shares the same name. While in person it lacks the purple-pink tinge I associate with magenta, it’s no less brilliant of a color. Bright and gleaming in its appearance, the dial is accented with gold-tone markers and hands. I’m not a huge fan of this color combo, but it’s inoffensive and has a warm vintage charm. I’d probably have preferred polished steel, and it should be noted that the Polar and Sand models have matte gunmetal-gray hands, which are killer.

The hands and indices are all coated in BGW9 Super-LumiNova, which shines brightly and evenly. Returning to the Pro after a hiatus, a date window is offered on all four models. In lieu of a frame, the window is dramatically beveled and the date wheel is color-matched. Note the position of the date window: The top perfectly aligns with the embossed ring that encircles the center of the dial. It’s great attention to detail and is one of the small things that pull the watch together.

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The Fortitude Pro has an unadorned caseback and is powered by the Japanese Miyota Cal 9015. The movement delivers a power reserve of 42 hours at 28,800 vph. Astor+Banks has gone further, though, regulating the movements in-house to -/+10 seconds per day, a significant improvement over the stock -10/+30 seconds per day.

When I reviewed the Fortitude when it debuted, I was excited but ultimately disappointed. The case design just didn’t work with how it sat on the wrist. When the Lite came around, I bought it immediately, knowing it would dominate my wrist on arrival. Sure enough, it was my most worn watch in 2022. The new Fortitude Pro continues the Lite’s superior design and versatility with new colors and added functionality, rounding out the Fortitude collection — for now. The Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro is priced at $675 USD, and the Viva Magenta colorway is limited to just 50 pieces. For more information, please visit the Astor + Banks website.

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