Of the brands we saw at Basel World 2016, Fortis left one of the most lasting impressions. Under new, younger management, the storied brand is seeking to reestablish themselves, and they are doing exactly what a replica watch brand should do to get there; create great, unique time pieces and sell them through trusted channels. This year, we saw an expansion of one their four core lines, Aviatis, which encompasses their pilot and cosmonaut replica watches. There were several models that had us all excited, but the simply titled Cockpit replica watches, left a particular impression.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the Cockpit Two. The difference between One and Two is simply the use of color, with the One having a more vintage feel, and the Two having some aggressive highlights. Coming in at $1,170 on a strap, the Cockpits offer a solid value for a Swiss-made replica watch with an ETA 2836-2 and good build quality.
The Cockpit Two features a clean and classic case design. Measuring 41 x 47.3 x 11mm, it’s a medium size, verging on large territory. It’s a very dial focused replica watch, as most pilot/aviators are, so the 41mm diameter offers a nice wide aperture for the dial. The 47.3mm lug-to-lug is fairly modest though, which keeps the replica watch from feeling over sized, and the 11mm height keeps it feeling thin.
Broken into two models named Cockpit One and Cockpit Two, these 3-handers with day/date automatics manage to do something few other replica watches in recent memory have: offer a new aesthetic concept to the pilot/aviator replica watch. Pilots are so often slight riffs on a single theme that choosing between them comes down to tiny details, brand preference or perhaps just price. With the Cockpits, Fortis has really created something that looks like no other, yet still comes across clearly as an aviation inspired replica watch.
From above, the design is very focused on the lugs, crown and dial. Rather than the contoured lugs found on many pilots, the Cockpit has thick, near straight lugs with a 20mm width, giving the replica watch a more modern feel. The sides appear to be slab, but they actually taper in towards the crystal. As such, the replica watch is only 41mm near the case back and closer to 39 at the bezel.
Flipping the replica watch over, you have a very plain case back with a display window. Through the window, you can see the ETA 2836-2 movement, which is fairly undecorated, save the Fortis logo on the rotor. It’s not the most exciting movement to look at, though any movement has its charm… That said, had there been a sold case back with a cool engraving, I wouldn’t have missed seeing the movement.
The dial is really where the Cockpit Two comes to life. It’s broken into two areas, and inner hour track and an outer minute/second track, which are separated with a slight elevation change. The inner area is depressed down a bit and features an index of long lines per hour, save at 12, 6 and 9 which feature numerals, and 3, which features an altimeter style date window. This area hints at the classic aviation layout, that puts weight on 12, 3, 6 and 9 over the other hours. But, by placing inside of the minute/second index, they also refer to the “B-Type” flieger layout.
The outer index surface is then raised a bit, and features a full index of markings with lines for every minute/second getting heavier at intervals of 5. There are also double digit numerals at intervals of 5, save at 0/60 where there is a triangle. On the Cockpit Two, these numerals are all white, at there are color accents at 15, 30, 45 and 60, adding a bit of a cross-hair feel, as well as giving the design a more contemporary, aggressive look.
Looking from the side, the finishing becomes more apparent. The mid case is brushed horizontally with a fine grain while the bezel is fully polished. This bit of contrast is a surprising touch as pilots do tend to be brushed or matte. I think it was a nice choice as it adds to the overall look and feel, bringing a touch of elegance to the design.
On the right side is a large crown with a cool shape. It measures nearly 7.5 x 4.5mm, referencing the onion/diamond crowns of classic pilots. The actual shape, however, is quite different. It’s a cylinder with deep grooves that chamfers on the end, leading to a flat area that has the Fortis crown logo on it. It’s a very attractive design that despite the size, doesn’t bite into the wrist. The one thing that surprised me about it was that it’s not screw down. That doesn’t really effect things, and the replica watch has a healthy 100m WR, but with an automatic, you don’t need the pullout crown, and screw down just makes things feel more solid.
Perhaps the most divisive element of the replica watch is the altimeter-style date window. These arc-shaped windows show the day before and the day after the current date, while visually referring to elements of cockpit instrument panels. On this replica watch, they did a few interesting things with it. First off, they match white on black coloring of the dial, immediately making it more subtle, which is great as the larger window could have been distracting. Next, they use the day too, which aligns with the current date, creating a line for the eye to follow. Lastly, they clearly designed the sizing of the lower area so that the curve of circle would match with the arc of the window. This prevents anything from feeling like an after thought or forced element, integrating everything together. Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of altimeter-date windows, but it really does work on this replica watch.
The Cockpit features Fortis’ unique take on roman sword hands. The hour hand is short and wide, tapering out and then coming to a point towards its end, taking on an almost tie-shape. The lume doesn’t follow the exact same outline tough, tapering to a point instead, creating a diamond shape. The minute hand is then very long and thin with a more exaggerated point. They look good, feeling a bit more modern than other similar hands I’ve seen, and are very easy to read. The seconds hand is then a tapering stick in bright orange, corresponding to the highlights below.
The only drawback of the dial is the placement of the lume. The hour and minute hand both feature a decent amount, and glow well. The dial, however, only has lume on the triangle at twelve, which is unfortunately very weak. In fact, I didn’t really notice it the first time I charged it up. Giving the design of the replica watch, i figured the numerals, at least 12, 6 and 9 would have been lumed, or perhaps the index on the outer edge, so I was surprised when they weren’t. As far as day to day use in concerned, this wouldn’t effect my personal usage, but if you rely on lume it could be an issue.
My favorite aspect of the design is the typeface they used as it’s very atypical for a pilot. It’s thin, with quirky lines that have an almost hand drawn feel. That’s not to say they are sketchy, they are in fact very crisp and clear, but there is still something gestural about them. They also give the dial a bit of a field replica watch feel, which plays well against the more obvious pilot/aviator elements. Most importantly, it manages to give the replica watch a unique personality while maintaining the high legibility that defines the genre.
Straps and Wearability
The Cockpit Two features 20mm lugs and comes with either a strap or bracelet option, for an increased price. The strap pictured is a two-piece design made of a sort of rubberized leather, giving it a very technical, sporty feel. The matte black material is off set by contrasting off-white stitch, which also gives a slightly vintage style to the strap. It works well with the replica watch, playing off of the various aesthetic elements.
On the wrist, the Cockpit Two wears well. The dial is wide, giving it a lot of presence, but the lug-to-lug is fairly short, making it fit nicely. The 11mm thickness also keeps it close to the wrist and stops it from feeling clunky in any way. It looks great too. It’s very legible, and has a cool style that makes it feel different from other pilot/aviators. It’s a bit more graphic and design focused, rather than military or, to my eyes, overtly instrument inspired. The result is a really nice sporty casual replica watch that is good for day to day wear.
The Fortis Aviatis Cockpit Two is a cool replica watch that offers a new spin on a very classic concept. They took the idea of the pilot/aviator and gave it a unique personality that speaks to a brand that is redefining itself. A brand that has a rich history but isn’t going to rely solely on their archives to create great time pieces. With the Cockpit Two, they showed that there are still new ideas to be had around a theme that has been executed time and time again, which is hard to do. For fans of the genre, the Cockpit Two (and One, for that matter) might seem like a breath of fresh air.
Beyond unique style, it’s also a good value. At $1,170, the ETA 2836 powered, Swiss-made replica watch is very well priced and positioned, offering a very solid alternative to Swatch group brands, etc. Sure, it has some stiff competition too from various German companies and other Swiss ones as well, such as Sinn and Oris, but by offering a unique look will find its own customers.