FORTIS B-42 Pilot Professional Chronograph (ref. 635.10.11) was produced circa in 2002-2010 being the first model of this line that had been present in the brand catalog for around 20 years, till very recently, in several editions. This characteristic 3-subdial design was first presented by FORTIS in 1987, and later on was adopted by many other brands like IWC and SINN. Moreover, FORTIS at that times was among the brands (like SINN and TUTIMA) that supplied these watches to air-force pilots, thus intended for real action. This is my personal review in 08/2023 referring to a watch of 2005 (bought pre-owned one year later) that although used occasionally, has suffered a lot in my hands, and was serviced in 2016.
It is equipped with the automatic Cal.VALJOUX/ETA-7750 in elabore grade, with all the usual 8 functions, full time and chronograph indications, plus day and date. The expecting adequate performance of this movement is +/-10 seconds per day, even when has not been serviced for more than five years, given that has been properly oiled and its use remains occasional. This is a caliber of proven reliability, easily serviceable, among the very best mass production mechanisms of the last 50 years.
The open back case is circa 42 x 15 mm stainless steel with matt finish weighting 125gr with the leather bracelet. Its theoretical water resistance is 200m. Both front and back crystals are sapphire, with the front (very clear) supposed to be at least 2mm thick. The crown is push-in, very large with very thick stem, for easy use along with the large chronograph pushers. The screw back is easily unscrewed revealing a well hosted gasket on the case. The thick screw lugs are 20mm of good quality, and could easily host any kind of strap, but often replacements are not recommended, for avoiding excessive pressure on the bar screws. Overall, the case has a very good construction combining push-in crown with 20ATM water resistance, but it is not recommended for swimming in the sea, like it happens with all alike chronographs. In comparison with other brands (IWC and SINN) the design is not refined, intended for a tool watch, thick enough so it is not easily covered by any kind of sleeve. it requires wrists above 190mm and (relatively) tight binding for being wearable and comfortable. Finally, it is individually numbered (4 digits) for identification with the watch papers. Photos of the watch on 200mm wrist.
DIAL & HANDS (4/6)
Good overall quality. The dial although busy is very easily readable (even with short/long sightedness) for all functions thanks to the red chronograph hands. Additionally, the day/date triangle indications for adjustment are very much appreciated. Both indices and hands are coated with Superluminova (for long standing result), but luminosity of the dial is just good. The hour and minute “stick” hands are a great plus in comparison with the bigger “sword” hands used in most other models of the sane line (they hide the chronograph subdials), and they have excellent luminosity (better than the dial).
After 18 years the watch is still equipped with its original thick factory leather strap showing excellent stitching details. Besides occasional use, normally it should be taken apart, but still holds adequately well (my experience with other Fortis straps is negative). It could easily be changed with a top quality handmade leather strap, thus the highest score. The factory thick steel bracelet makes the watch too heavy (and uncomfortable) and it is not recommended.
FINAL EVALUATION (15/20)
This watch total rating is 15 meaning it is a GOOD casual-sport watch. I clarify that its rating is low considering its overall quality and wrist presence. Given the brand image, It is one of the “toolest” pilot chronographs available in the market, a “like it or hate it” timepiece, addressed exclusively to those who are associated with, or are inspired by the world of aviation.