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Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro

A Solid One-Watch Collection Option

What if you were the type of watch enthusiast who romanticizes the idea of a one-watch collection? What if, although you own multiple watches, you dream of only owning one that can do it all? I’m both types but I have yet to find that one watch that can do it all for me. (Everytime I think I did find it, another watch shows up and demands a greater amount of my attention.) Or, to be more honest with you all, I’m not ready to become a one-watch collector yet as I enjoy exploring the vast catalogs of watches available to us today. But, and  that’s a big but, I will one day most likely find “the one” and become faultlessly loyal to it. But that day hasn’t arrived but if you feel you’re getting close to it yourself, then this review is for you. 

Today we’re going to take a look at the Fortitude Pro, a key model from US-based micro/independent brand Astor+Banks, established in 2012 by Andrew Perez. A+B doesn’t release many models but when they do, we watch enthusiasts and collectors always hit the jackpot. And the Fortitude Pro is the perfect example of that. Visually, it looks classic and versatile. Technically, it operates and is built like a proper tool watch. The Fortitude Pro is therefore both a GADA watch (Go-Anywhere-Do-Anything) as well as an “everyday” watch. (To me, as a note, both are one and the same.) And, lastly, it is a model that is priced more than reasonably ($675 USD) given what’s inside. 


As it is now customary—and almost unavoidable—to do so, I like to first define the versatile nature of a watch by looking at its dimensions. Not that dimensions tell the whole story about it, quite the contrary, but they do give us—or at least me—a good idea of what a watch is capable of in terms of wearability and comfort. The Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro comes in with a diameter of 38.5mm, a lug-to-lug of 45.5mm, a total thickness of 11.9mm, and a lug width of 20mm. As you might imagine, given that you know my wrist size by heart, the Fortitude Pro looks amazing on my wrist. (6.50”/16.50cm if you did forget.) These are good dimensions to start with regardless of how much water resistance we can expect to see. Ok, I’ll tell you right away: it’s 200 meters thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back. 

Inside this well-proportioned case we find a regulated Japan Made Miyota 9015 caliber that beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 42 hours of power reserve. The movement is indeed regulated in-house to run at +/-10 seconds per day which is rather good. Moreover, the Miyota 9015 is protected by a soft-iron cage upping the resistance to magnetism from 4,800A/m (as required by ISO 764) to a whopping 20,000A/m, which is plenty to resist daily exposures to magnetic forces coming from our smartphones, computers, and typical household appliances. Furthermore, the case was given a hardening coating raising its scratch resistance to 1,200HV, which is eight times more than naked stainless steel (as far as I know.) 

You’re starting to see why it’s called the Fortitude Pro? 

But Astor + Banks didn’t stop there to make the Fortitude a capable, multi-purpose watch. Looking at the crystal we find a flat piece of sapphire complete with inner anti-reflective coating, ample applications of BGW9 lume on all three hands and all applied hour markers. The bracelet is quite superb as well, showing a modern “H-Link” construction where the links are held together with screws, the fold-over safety clasp is equipped with six holes of micro-adjustments, and the end-links are of the female variant. As you might have seen me write before, I don’t mind the absence of an on-the-fly micro-adjustment mechanism as they tend to make the clasps bulky. Here it is thin and narrow, therefore comfortable and lightweight. 


To ensure there is a Fortitude Pro for each and everyone of us, Astor + Banks gives us eight color options: Navy (as seen here,) Sand, Magenta, Polar, Mint Green, Silver, Powder Blue and Mother of Pearl. For each option the brand went through the trouble of color-matching the date disc to the dial, whilst giving the date aperture and Arabic numerals of the date the right proportions so that the complication doesn’t command too much visual presence and yet remains legible. This in itself doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do as many brands either don’t bother with it or don’t do it well. And the date aperture perfectly integrates with the classic and elegant dial layout, the latter further emphasizing the multi-purpose nature of this model. 

Indeed we find Dauphine-style hour and minute hands, bi-faceted and fully polished, a needle-style and fully-polished seconds hand, and applied hour markers that are mostly rectangular but with a rounded tip towards the center of the dial. On this version, the markers come with polished metal surrounds to match the finish of the hands. And on all models, the hour markers are doubled at the twelve to make it easier for our brains to find the midday or midnight point. Going back to the small details Astor + Banks worked hard on, note the atrophied applied hour marker at the six o’clock. A nice touch that demonstrates that legibility in all lighting conditions is key. 

The dial has a semi-matte finish and was made unboring by adding an engraved circle at its center, framing the brand name and logo as well as the model name printed in red and the words “20ATM//Automatic” located below the pinion. I particularly like the fact that this circle reaches the base of the applied hour markers, thereby creating visual harmony. Last but not least when looking at the dial, we find a fully-graduated minute track which indicates, once again, that the Fortitude Pro is indeed a practical watch in addition to being an elegant one. It reminds me a lot of the Formex Essence 39 which I reviewed a while back, but for half the price. 

The case too has a versatile design as it comes with horizontally brushed slab-sided flanks that perfectly flow into the lugs, the latter being tall, narrow, and drilled. The upper section of the lugs as well of the fixed bezel come with a vertical brushing, while the chamfer that runs all alongside the case is mirror-polished. I also appreciate the fact that the bracelet is mostly brushed, with the exception of the chamfers on the clasp, which puts the Fortitude Pro smack in the middle of toolishness and elegance. In other words, it’s a refined tool watch that also flies under the radar. (I hope I’m making some sort of sense here.) 

The Heart of the Matter 

At the heart of the matter is the fact that the Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro is an excellent everyday/GADA/one-watch collection option. And it is so for two main reasons. First, it’s endowed with the perfect visual balance of subtle elegance and legibility. Second, because it is built like a tank although you wouldn’t be able to say so judging by its appearance. Remember that the Fortitude Pro has a regulated Miyota 9015 caliber within, 200 meters of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, a hardened stainless steel case, and a soft-iron cage protecting the movement from typical, daily sources of magnetism. And when you put all of that in the context of its price—$675 USD—it is what we like to call a “no-brainer.” Indeed, it is. 

So the Fortitude Pro might not wow you aesthetically as it doesn’t offer anything particularly novel in terms of design. But it shines through its perfect balance of specs and dimensions, price and quality of finish, the latter I hadn’t touched upon before. I would say that for the asking $675 USD, you get what you pay for and more, given the high quality of components used in this model and the superior finish and construction, The polished surfaces are well done, the transitions between those and brushed surfaces are clean, and the overall watch has tight tolerances. In other words, the bracelet doesn’t jiggle, the end-links fit the case perfectly, and the crown is solid and responsive. 

Ah, the crown! I had yet to tell you about it, misery! The crown, like everything else on the watch,  looks simple and is well-made. The outter part is highly domed and polished whilst the main section (where we find the deep knurling) is slab-sided and the bottom is fully flat. This means, as it wasn’t perhaps clear thanks to my ultra scientific explanation, that the crown is easy to operate and sits flush against the case. Actually, the seal between the two is very tight as the right side of the case was machined in a way so that the space where the crown makes contact with it is recessed. I really need to learn how to better describe things but I think you got the gist of it. 


So, where does that leave us? It leaves us with many things to like about the Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro regardless of how you feel about its design. Between you and I, writing this review should have been completed many weeks ago but I wasn’t sure I would have enough to say about this model because, well, visually it’s not the most striking watch I’ve seen in the past many years. (And for me the latter is what I typically look for in a watch because I like those that fly under the radar; but that’s just me.) But look, I ended up saying much more than I originally thought because there is indeed a lot to be said about the Astor + Banks Fortitude Pro. Not only from a quality perspective but also–and mainly—from a technical one. It’s a darn good value and a robust do-it-all watch. 

And, as I mentioned a couple of times before, the asking price of $675 USD is reasonable, and actually more than reasonable I would say. So if you would like to know more about the Fortitude Pro and see all of the eight color variants it comes in, check out this link. To learn more about Astor + Banks the brand, check out that other link

Thanks for reading. 


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