An unaltered customer review by Robert Block, California USA – Software executive and passionate watch nerd
My watch collection, like most I suspect, covers all the bases – the chronograph, dress watch, sports watch, the watches for work and weekends as well as some vintage pieces. For me, each watch tells more than just the time. They are my personal style, statement and represent craftsmanship, tradition and passion. Each addition has been chosen with care and there is a story and a reason behind each timepiece I collect. As a software executive in Silicon Valley California, I spend a large part of my time solving problems with the latest hardware and software technology. I also love the user experience in my new car, the latest model of carbon fiber mountain bike, the latest cellphone. But in watches, I am old school and committed to analog only.
I was looking for something unique, something not everybody has
I have been looking to add to my collection, because as any watch aficionado knows, there is always room for something unique and different and a small Swiss brand has caught my eye. Formex Swiss Watches have been around since twenty years but they have been in the news recently for shaking things up in the normally traditional world of watchmaking. Their new, young CEO Raphael Granito took the brand in a radical new direction by moving the company from the bricks and mortar retail model of old to an innovative direct to customer approach. I know, they’re by far not to only watch brand realizing that by jumping over the middle men, they can offer better prices (look at all the countless new Kickstarter brands). However, they’re the first established Swiss watch brand to switch completely online and pass on these saving on to the consumer.
What sealed the deal for me
I do have a sports watch in my collection but I am drawn to their Automatic three-hand Pilot limited edition model with carbon fiber elements, clear readability, date window and sapphire crystal exhibition case back. This watch is rugged and sporty, mixing traditional watchmaking with modern cutting-edge design and material. Besides its obvious visual appeal, the unique and unusual case is what caught my attention. Formex’s approach was to look to the engineering and design of high performance bikes and racing cars and integrated four little springs in between the lower and upper watch case. This cushion concept is a clever mechanism that provides shock absorption to protect the mechanical movement. It might sound like a gimmick, but in fact makes this rather rugged watch wear surprisingly comfortable, as the case adapts to my wrist’s motion. With the four hexagon screws on top of the watch and the visible springs on the side, the suspension system gives a distinctive and incredibly sporty look to every of their timepieces.
Formex’s unique Case Suspension System absorbs shocks and adapts to the wrist’s motion
Formex is not stuck in the past
Besides being an avid mountain and road biker, paddle boarder and airplane pilot, I’m not sure if I engage in any activities that would seriously test my watches; Formex, however, most certainly do. CEO, Raphael Granito, is an avid sportsman who pursues many high-octane pursuits, from motor sports to surfing, skydiving and snow sports. And to showcase his watches’ credentials he has partnered with some exciting athletes all of whom put their Formex Watches and the case suspension system through their paces across a variety of adrenaline fueled sports. That such talented sportsmen have embraced these watches speaks to the success of the case and the protection it provides for the watch movement and the comfort it offers to the wearer. I met Granito in person when he and his team were exhibiting at a watch fair in San Francisco in May 2018. I guess I was expecting a suited up stiff Swiss boardroom executive and was all the more surprised to see a young ambitious dude with trucker hat and beard. At the latest when he showed me his App that lets you try on their watches in AR with your smartphone, I knew this brand is not stuck in the past but focused on innovation and able to shake up pinned down principles in the industry. Same applies to their newest development, the Essence Automatic Chronometer, which I saw in prototype form in San Francisco. It’s a slightly smaller and beautifully designed COSC-certified Chronometer. They integrated the Suspension System into the case to make it look more sleek, and added a nifty carbon fiber composite folding clasp that allows for fine-adjustment of the strap length on the go. Talking about the price tag, I can’t think of anything comparable on the market that’d be able to match up. In line with their new and innovative business model, they will release this model on Kickstarter in late summer, which I think is a great idea.
My next timepiece
My Formex became one of my top wrist-choices for basically every occasion, it’s bold and sporty but doesn’t feel oversized nor tacky. However, what really sealed the deal for me is the unique case and suspension system and whilst I will probably not be taking up skydiving or test my biking skills on the next cliff to prove its resilience, it’s reassuring to know that I don’t have to treat my latest acquisition with kid gloves. All my watches have something interesting or unusual about them and this clever mechanism is a great talking point and a very valid reason to add this striking watch to my collection.
I know this might sound unreal, but in fact it was me offering to Raphael that I write down and share my Formex experience. Formex doesn’t sponsor me in any way nor did they offer me any discounts or vouchers (come on Formex :)), I genuinely love their watches, their business model and appreciate the direction their team is taking the brand. I secured myself the Kickstarter Early Bird Special for the Essence Chronometer by putting down a small deposit on their website. I truly believe that if you don’t have to shine with a flashy brand name but look for a unique and high-quality everyday watch that looks elegant and casual at the same time, that’s probably the best deal you can land these days.