If you were reading GP last year, you may recall our review of the Astor & Banks Sea Ranger, somewhat of a cross between a field watch and a dive watch. The company, founded by Andrew Perez and based in Chicago, is a another young American upstart making affordable tool watches and assembling them Stateside. Perez, a military veteran, has a great eye for design and manages to mix classic horological tropes with modern nuances to give his watches a unique flavor.
Perez's latest creation, the Fortitude, is a field watch through and through, and it's certainly among the most compelling affordable options of the year. Measuring a perfect 38.5mm in diameter, the Fortitude is somewhat reminiscent of a classic Rolex Explorer, but certainly not in a fashion that screams "homage," by any means. Its handsome dial with 6 o'clock date, applied indices and sword hands is available in several colors — navy blue, silver, mother-of-pearl, mint green, and a special limited edition for BLVDier Custom Clothier in Chicago of 50 pieces in navy blue gilt —and is sparse, legible, and just plain good-lookin'. Super-LumiNova C3 coats the hands and indices for nighttime visibility.
New for this model is an anti-magnetic rating of 20,000A/m, achieved through the use of two soft iron plates that sandwich the movement. Viton gaskets and a screw-down crown ensure 660 feet of water resistance, while a flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating ensures solid visibility and scratch-resistance.
Powering the Fortitude is the automatic Miyota 9015, adjusted by Astor & Banks and featuring 42 hours of power reserve. Each watch ships on a stainless steel bracelet as well as a suede strap with quick-release spring bars and a strap-changing tool.
On the hunt for an affordable, automatic field watch for yourself or someone special? The Fortitude looks like a great option. It lists for $650 for the navy, silver and mint green dials, and $695 for the mother-of-pearl. However, the watches are currently in pre-order, and you can nab one for just $525 (or $550 for the mother-of-pearl). Each watch includes a five-year warranty and is expected to ship in December, 2020 or January, 2021.