The stratosphere is part of the atmosphere surrounding the Earth. It is located between 15 and 50 kilometers above sea level. In contrast to the surrounding troposphere (0 – 15 km), the temperature increases from -60° C to 0° C due to the ozone-absorbed UV radiation, which converts electromagnetic radiation into heat. Already in the 60s, pilots of reconnaissance flights, such as the US with the “Lockheed U-2”, needed a reliable technique for flights over 20,000 meters. The “U” stands for “utility” and was used as a camouflage, so that Russia did not suspect. Since these aircraft literally vanish from the radar, Fortis has assigned the model Stratoliner to the space watches.
The first watches, marketed under the name of Stratoliner, were launched on the market as early as 1962, due to the fact that they were being used for these reconnaissance flights. In northern Sweden on Esrange near Kiruna, the rockets MAXUS and TEXUS launched and offered research conditions like in space. The acceleration of the MAXUS rocket with 3,500 m / sec acts with up to 13 g and catapults the missile vertically up to 715 km. This is followed by a phase of about 12 minutes of free fall. On a parachute the payload lands safely on the ground. In the TEXUS program, a Brazilian VSB-30 rocket provided about six minutes of experimentation. The FORTIS chronographs, including the Stratoliner from 2012, have successfully passed these extreme tests. Due to the absence of the hour numerals, this particular clarity emerges, which already made the watch a perfect companion for aviation challenges. Of course all the components of the timepiece have been modernized. The 42mm case is framed either by a steel or ceramic bezel, which shows the tachymetry. The case consists of partly brushed, partly polished stainless steel and a glass base, which gives view onto the beating heart. The crown is a classic pusher crown while the pushers of the chronograph are securely screwed. The sapphire glass has been treated with an antireflective coating on both sides, which in the sunlight takes on this distinctive violet-blue tint. The Stratoliner appears in two steel and two ceramic versions. One in matt white – the other in matte black. Both have square indices at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock, whilest the remaining hours do have rectangular indices. Hours and minute markers as well as the hour and minute hands are colored in beige while the second hand was designed red as a highlight. The counter of the chronograph are flat and fit seamlessly into the dial.
In addition to the four models, there are 2 limited special editions of 200 pieces each. The Stratoliner “Parabola” stands for the courageous scientists who always face extraordinary challenges in their work doing parabolic flights and thus make an immense contribution to society. The second limited edition, also with 200 pieces, is the Stratoliner “All Black”, which symbolizes the outlook into the exosphere and open space, and herewith the gigantic achievements of mankind, which, on April 12, 1961 with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, has been proven with a 108-minute around-the-world-trip.
NB: the piece shown in the main image is on metal bracelet – other band options are available
Movement: automatic Swiss movement, Valjoux 7750, 48 h power reserve, 25 jewels
Case: 42mm diameter, bi-finished case (partly brushed, partly polished), glass base, double antireflective coated sapphire glass, steel bezel, water resistant to 10 atm/bar
Dial/Hands: White dial with raised olive colored indices, matte black chronograph counters, hands coloured in olive, second hand in red
Functions: Chronograph, hour, minute and permanent second, 12-hours- and 30-minutes counter, day-date display (english), tachymetre
Packaging: Box, manual, international warranty, certificate of limitation
Limited Edition: 200 pieces worldwide
NB: Small parts and movement components may vary depending upon construction parameters.