A deep dive into Formex watches, the newest additions to the WatchGecko store...

At the end of each year the WatchGecko staff gather to pick their favourite watches from the previous 12 months. This list is traditionally published in the magazine. Previous choices have been eclectic, ranging from a £20K white gold 42mm Rolex Yacht Master to a fabulous retro £180 digital Yema LED. We think long and hard about our choices - yet despite a plethora of options I have now selected Formex twice.   

I didn’t consciously set out to duplicate a brand, it's just that in my personal and professional experience the Formex Essence, and then a year later the REEF, both resonated more with me than anything else I had seen. At WatchGecko we are fortunate to have access to a considerable number of superb watches and I remain convinced that Formex is, in every measurable way, an exceptional brand, making watches of the highest calibre and charging relatively low prices for technical gems.  

It is therefore with much excitement that we can announce that WatchGecko are now the exclusive UK retailer for Formex watches.  

Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer

The 42mm Formex REEF - Image credit: WatchGecko.

Welcome To The World Of Formex 

Established in 1999 by two Swiss brothers, Formex is a small independent watch manufacturer with its roots in high-end watch manufacturing. Early designs such as the Pilot and Motorsport were űber-bold 46.5mm statements, aimed at the extreme sport community where skydiving is a daily event. Uncompromising in design and reflective in the turn-of-the-millennium style, these models were well built and equipped with superior engineering. In the words of CEO and founder Raphael Granito, early Formex designs were “fuelled by both a passion for watches and a love for extreme motorsport. Indeed, the brand name derives from the unique shapes generated by all forms of such sport, whether on land or sea, FORMe EXtrème (extreme shape)”.

Granito himself is an accomplished extreme sportsman embracing the worlds of motor racing, skydiving, downhill skateboarding and surfing - so it is hardly a surprise that his creations corresponded to a defined culture. Before long, Formex watches were linked to serious sports such as the Le Mans 24hr and the legendary Cigarette power boat racing series in the USA.  

Latterly the watch designs have become less sport orientated but haven't lost their essential DNA. Collections continue to mature and now rival many of the premium Swiss manufacturers in terms of innovation, style and build quality. In 2020 the brand went through a major corporate re-design, resulting in more contemporary dials and a smart new logo. It was a brave move as the risk of alienating existing fans was a factor to consider, yet the transition was done with sophistication and careful thought.  

Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer

The 42mm Formex REEF - Image credit: WatchGecko.

The Essence of Formex 

Looking at the current portfolio in more detail, the Essence range changed the way that people viewed the brand. It was (and still is) a beautiful watch that forms the backbone of ‘new’ Formex. It retains the brand's signature patented Case Suspension System - a cushioning system protecting the movement and considerably adding to comfort. The latest Essence evolutions are available in both 39mm and 43mm, called the ThirtyNine and FortyThree, are two of the watches we are proud to offer.  

Formex Essence 43

The Formex Essence 43 - Image credit: WatchGecko

The external finish of both the FortyThree and ThirtyNine is of the highest standard.  The brushed-steel 100m water resistant cases are accented by hand-finished areas. Dials are available in multiple colours, including a Dégredé finish, and the striking horizontal lines are individually CNC machined to achieve the sharpest angles. Hands and indices offer superb legibility and are filled with BGW9 Super-LumiNova. 

Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer

The 42mm Formex REEF case back - Image credit: WatchGecko.

Dive deep into the Formex REEF 

The 42mm REEF checks all the critical design characteristics of a 300m diver, but gives them a healthy dose of reimagining. The design of the REEF is genuinely a step forward in the overall look of professional diving and outdoor watches in this price bracket (and beyond).  

Five hand applied dial options all have a real depth to them, with the green and blue being reminiscent of the colours seen on a deep ocean dive. The raised indices and new logo add to the three-dimensional feel.  The dials really play with the light, looking subtly different from every angle. The name REEF announces its presence under the hands in a bold font. Attention to detail has clearly been paramount to the Formex design team, even down to the stylish recessed date window. 

Stubby hands give the watch a purposeful look, blending functionality and legibility. BGW9 Super-LumiNova is generously applied on hands and indexes.   

Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer

The 42mm Formex REEF with BGW9 Super-LumiNova - Image credit: WatchGecko.

As we move out past the dial, the diving bezel is possibly the most striking element of the REEF. It's constructed from Zirconium oxide ceramic which is highly resistant to all elements. The graduations and numbers are engraved by femto-laser pulsations, with each bezel taking 60 minutes of precision engraving to manufacture. The recessed bezel base allows the numbers to stand proud making them highly legible. 

Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer

The 42mm Formex REEF diving bezel and double gasket crown - Image credit: WatchGecko.

A self-winding COSC-certified Sellita SW300 25 jewel movement, with a custom-built skeleton rotor and thermally blued screws (offering a 42-hour power reserve) are protected by a 300m pressure-tested case and a double gasket crown. This thin calibre allows the REEF to be just 11.4mm in thickness. 

Available now from WatchGecko 

Take some time to look in detail at Formex watches. They hail from a background of passion and excitement for the product, and this really shows in the design and innovation of these watches.  

The build quality and aesthetics have been a genuine surprise to many of my colleagues and I can safely speculate that many UK watch enthusiasts (and members of the WatchGecko team) will be wearing new Formex watches before the end of 2021.  

You can check out the full Formex range here.