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REVIEW: Fortis Marinemaster M-40 and M-44

The Fortis Marinemaster M-44 in recycled steel case with black dial and olive green accents.

Seventy years on, Fortis’ most reliable collection has been thoroughly refreshed.

It’s been a minute since we heard about Fortis. Acquired by Jupp Philipp in 2018, the entire brand and its collections have been revamped by the private investor and lifelong fan. Starting with a partnership with movement maker Kenissi and giving designer Xavier Perrenoud the freedom to rework its products, today’s Fortis is a modernised and energised watchmaker.

Jupp Philipp, owner of Fortis Watches AG.
Jupp Philipp, owner of Fortis Watches AG.

Recently, the brand revived its Flieger collection with a great range of complications and options, but today, we’re going to discuss the Marinemaster (not to be confused with Seiko’s collection bearing the same name). The Marinemaster is one of Fortis’ oldest collections, celebrating its 70th anniversary last year, along with Fortis’ 110th.

An example of Fortis' Marinemaster before its redesign.
An example of the Fortis' Marinemaster before its redesign.

Designed previously as a robust and water-resistant watch, it’s been retooled into an outdoor adventure watch under Jupp’s watchful eye. Although the name might conjure up visions of a rugged diving watch (and you would be right), they’ve taken the practical route towards designing the watch for regular use.

The Fortis Marinemaster M-44 in black dial with rubber strap.
The Fortis Marinemaster M-44 with a black dial and rubber strap.

The Fortis Marinemaster

The Marinemaster today features two case sizes at 40mm and 44mm, and both are made from recycled steel, a nod towards more carbon-efficient production. (Recycled steel uses 80% less energy and reduces the amount of air pollution caused by various chemicals used in the process.) And while watchmaking is a small polluter by far compared with other industries, it is nevertheless a good move towards a circular economy.

The entire case is brushed, lending strength to its tool-watch design. The case is beautifully angular, with lugs that curve gently to fit most wrist types. The dial features a stamped pattern with an inner bezel ring featuring a minute track. Large bar-shaped hour markers and elongated hexagon hands are coated with luminous material to ensure the watch is highly legible in the dark. Different dial variations in several pop colours are available.

Fortis' Marinemaster M-44 in black dial with olive green accents and stainless steel bracelet.
The Fortis' Marinemaster M-44 with a black dial, olive green accents, and steel bracelet.

The Marinemaster features a diving-style bezel that is secured with a locking crown at 10 o’clock with a 15-minute countdown and a luminous bead at the 60-minute mark. For easy grip and adjustment, a black stainless steel ring that’s machined with grooves is incorporated into the design. A special edition with an 18K gold ring is available in the 44mm size.

The watch is water-resistant up to 500m (300m for the 40mm version), and this typically would incorporate a helium escape valve. But Fortis asks a valid question: how many people are diving down to 50 bars of pressure? So, it’s swapped out the valve for a patented bezel locking system, with a crown that needs to be turned in order to adjust the bezel.

The Fortis Marinemaster M-40 in coral blue.
The Fortis Marinemaster M-40 in coral blue.

The 44mm model features the COSC-certified Fortis WERK 11 Manufacture calibre, with a 70-power reserve that will last through the weekend. The movement features an escapement fixed to a traversing bridge secured at two points to the mainplate, ensuring shock resistance. The 40mm version features a UW-30 movement with a 38-hour power reserve and comes with fully coloured dials and matching rubber straps (the coral blue is particularly outstanding). Both sizes also have bracelet options.

All in all, the new Marinemaster is practical, stylish, and well-proportioned for outdoor use. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next on Philipp’s refresh for the brand. 



Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.

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