Fortis Marinemaster Chronograph

Fortis Marinemaster Chronograph

Many would say that no matter how good a watch looks, the quality of the heart beating inside it is what really counts. As vintage watch collectors ourselves, we’ve come to recognize that the quality of construction is indeed a really important matter. The movement can make or break a watch (quite literally), and certain movements are known in watch collecting circles as watchwords for dependability and accuracy. 

In the world of chronographs, that movement is, for all intents and purposes, the Valjoux 72—a movement used by the luminaries of the watch world.

Rolex. Heuer. Breitling.

Rattle off a list of Valjoux’s clients who used the Valjoux 72 and you end up with a veritable who’s who of the Golden Age of horology.

To go into why is to go into the history of watchmaking itself. In the industry's infancy, certain watchmaking houses gained a reputation for constructing certain parts of a watch—dials, cases, or unfinished movements. Valjoux, which opened its doors in 1901, were known for the latter. They started with calibres for pocket watches, and then, once demand for wristwatches escalated after the First World War, shifted production to smaller calibres that could fit in the chic new cases.

Based on the earlier Calibre 23 movement, the Valjoux 72 came to life in the 1940s. Its robust and flexible construction allowed it to be adapted by each manufacture for their own specific purposes. For example, Rolex, when using it in the legendary Daytona, added a Breguet overcoil and a free-sprung balance.

Another remarkable factor is the sheer number of these movements that Valjoux cranked out. Estimates come to about 750,000 of the Valjoux 72 produced from the late 1940s to the 1970s, when the calibre was finally discontinued. With numbers like that, there’s no wonder that it’s become so renowned.

Fortis was yet another of the manufactures that relied on the redoubtable calibre to power its chronographs.

Established by Walter Vogt in 1912, Fortis is nearly as old as Valjoux itself. Along with Rolex, Fortis was an early, perhaps the earliest, adopter of John Harwood’s self-winding watch movements, manufacturing automatic wristwatches in the 1920s. Throughout the 20th century, Fortis claims a series of horological firsts, not least of all being the production of the first waterproof wrist alarm in 1956. 

The brand was also at the forefront of style, releasing brightly-colored watches in the 1960s and 1970s that could in many ways be considered forefathers of the Swatches of the 1980s.

This particular chronograph, being powered by the Valjoux 72, has the familiar subsidiary dial and pusher layout that lovers of manually-winding Autavias and Daytonas have come to know and love. Like those watches, the sharply-beveled, long-lugged case is surmounted by a black rotating bezel. But the most visually-arresting element of the watch is the dial, with bright splashes of color in the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock.

As part of the Marinemaster series of watches, this chronograph was initially rated to 200M or 600 feet. While we wouldn’t take it SCUBA diving now, its sturdy construction makes it the ideal daily driver. It's perfect for a collector who desires a Valjoux 72-powered watch that’s a little more off-beat and affordable -- and a hell of a lot more visually arresting -- than the Autavias or Daytonas of the era.


SKU: AS02186

Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown and pushers). Reference 8001. Valjoux 72 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.

Overall Condition: Case is in great condition overall with thick chamfered lugs showing only moderate signs of use and wear. Rotating bezel is likewise in very good condition. Dial is in superb condition with warm patina to the luminescent elements. Hands show some light wear. Unsigned crown. Case back shows some normal signs of wear .

Includes one 20mm black leather strap with cream contrast stitching.

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