Fortis Has Created the First Watch Movement Tested in Space

Photo: Fortis

Watches have been going to space since the dawn of manned missions. Everyone knows about the Omega Speedmaster being worn on the moon in 1969, but nearly a decade prior in 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin wore a Provenance Sturmanskie on the first-ever space flight. A year later, Swiss watchmaker Fortis gave a fledgling NASA program the Spacematic AR to be its official space watch. The final frontier has been part of Fortis’ identity ever since, however, the brand’s latest outer space mission may be its most interesting.

Fortis has just unveiled the first-ever watch movement designed specifically for use in outer space, with testing performed outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Partnering with the Swedish Space Corporation, Fortis has researched and developed a new manufacture caliber with partner Manufacture La Joux-Perret; a column-wheel chronograph dubbed WERK 17 that has 60 hours of power reserve. The movement will be sent 30km into space so as to see if it will resist harsh conditions such as microgravity, extreme temperatures, and radiation.

To conduct the field test, Fortis and SSC placed thirteen watches naked on a gondola mount attached to a balloon which was then propelled through the stratosphere with helium gas. Data was then recorded on a device underneath it. Of course, withstanding the conditions of space itself was not the end goal. Rather, it was having these timepieces returned back to Earth still intact and rebounding from the stress they had experienced to be as accurate as when they were first sent up. Upon initial tests, 11 of the 13 watches worked perfectly fine as expected, with only one or two experiencing minor issues.

This is only the beginning for Fortis’ space testing. The next step is to send the watches into space in an actual rocket, with further tests being conducted even after that. Fortis has yet to announce the watch that will be so lucky to boast this new movement, but stay tuned on its website for when that information gets announced.

Learn More: Fortis

Photo: Fortis