Fortis Marinemaster 8001 Blue (c1972)
Fortis Marinemaster Ref. 8001 ‘Blue’, Valjoux 72, 200m WR, c1972
Whilst browsing online, I spotted one of these and was instantly intrigued. It was a cool looking vintage sports chrono, so I delved a little deeper and liked what I saw – especially as it houses a valjoux 72 movement, features classic straight lugs and diver bezel – what’s not to like? It was actually the yellow-orange variant I was most taken by, so put out a ‘WTB’ on the Chronocentric forum, and collector JameyS in the US came to the rescue (yet again). But.. it was a ‘blue’ model. I went for it anyway, and I’m glad I did – the blue is better than I expected.
I tried it on a selection of straps (20mm).. and thankfully it seems to be an all-rounder, but the tan rally really set it off. Then I remembered that I had an old un-named Beads of Rice bracelet in a box somewhere.. I’d bought it on ebay a long while back for very little, hoping it would fit a Heuer. It didn’t, so was forgotten about… I dug it out, and it fits like a dream, and elevates the Marinemaster to a new level. The watch head is a great size too, having a 39mm case, but the bi-directional ‘slide’ bezel overhangs a little.. giving it a bigger look n feel.
The name Marinemaster, whether one word or two is usually associated with Seiko, but it seems that Fortis has been using this moniker since the 50’s. This model, dating from c1972 certainly deserves the name. Despite being a chronograph, it is rated to 200m, not bad for a ’70’s chrono.
I scoured the net looking for info, but found very little. The watch was available in two variants, one with blue accents and one with yellow/orange accents. As Fortis made a re-issue of this model recently (in blue and yellow-orange variants), I thought they could help, so fired off an email. They were good enough to get back to me in a few days, but despite the fast response and a scan of a spec sheet from the 70’s (see below), they too didn’t have any detailed information. They noted that the original MM’s were most probably from 1972, but had no production numbers. They stated that the yellow-orange model was ref. 8002.
Oddly, the only caseback photos I’ve seen of a vintage yellow-orange model had a 8001 code. The Spec Sheet that Fortis sent me states that the dial is dark grey with ‘coloured zones’, which suggests that ref. 8001 covers both yellow-orange and blue variants.. so who knows!? (If anyone knows better, please comment)
The story doesn’t end there.. whilst hunting around online for info on this watch, I stumbled upon a spare ‘yellow-orange’ dial being offered by a German watchmaker, so snapped it up… then I stumbled upon another ref 8001 blue, in mint condition located in Prague – I couldn’t believe my luck… can you see where I’m going here? Yep.. I plan to have the dial switched over on Marinemaster number 2, and I’ll have a yellow-orange variant too. Watch this space!