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A brand's story : Formex by Extropian

Brand's story
Essence Malachite
Reef GMT
GMT watch
A brand's story : Formex by Extropian

Alerte New Release : the Essence 39mm MALCHITE

Formex Essence Thirty Nine Malachite Automatic Chronometer   Wrist Shot on Stainless Steel Bracelet   on 6.25  Wrist

There are brands which have evolved quite a bit. They become different and somehow, they are still the same. Longines is a great example of this, and while many of us (the watch enthusiasts) don’t enjoy so much what they have to offer nowadays, we still enjoy their designs and aesthetics. After all they are part of big conglomerate.

In the world of independent brands, we really enjoy Formex. It is a house that has always focus on toughness and reliability. They haven’t been around as long as Longines (actually not many brands have) but they had several evolutions without disrupting their DNA. Join me to discover in depth what for us is, a brand to be followed.

How it all begins?

Formex begins in 1999, specifically in Biel, Switzerland. Not a bad place to start with brands like Tissot and Swatch around in the neighbourhood, but Formex approach was a bit different: a brand that is inspired by extreme sports. Easy to say but, we have seen many brands taking inspiration on vintage, aviation and sometimes even the automotive crossover styles , but only a few in this extreme category.

Being a Swiss brand, Formex mantra is offer great quality but at via an online presence. This means that the prices are more competitive, offering more for less. It is not easy to obtain this standard of quality at the price point, but the constant push from the team has made it happen and now they are approaching 23 years since its inception.

Who made it happen?

The vision from 2 brothers is what inspired to create the brand. A passion for motorsport and watchmaking has crafted Formex DNA. Raphael Granito is the CEO and his vision keeps being present from the distribution model to the designs. As a family own company, the flexibility and decision making is much faster than a traditional brand. This translates into more exciting products that come intto market faster, sure they still depend on third party suppliers but designs do not stay in the board room for years.

Formex could also be considered a lifestyle brand. Raphael is the personification of how the brand is perceived. He seeks adventure and takes his watches with him while doing it. This is also a plus as the watches have been put to test while surfing, skating, car racing, freediving and well you get the idea.

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What is the brand philosophy?

Formex is a sports brand at heart. We are not only referring to their founders but also the business model. As mentioned previously, they have an online presence only, allowing the buyer to enjoy a luxury product at a non-luxury final price. But really, what is luxury? To us is not only high price brackets, for us true luxury is also to have more than you need. This is what the brand gives us, better finishing, new anti-shock technologies and unique materials, all the previous engineered at Swiss standards.

It is true that none of these capabilities will exist without the brands vision, which makes Formex feels like an organic growth brand. It is not trying to occupy a place in the market that doesn’t exist, what is doing is being truth to what they always wanted to offer.

Precision is also one of the pillars for this brand. Their COSC certification puts their watches into another category. Each and one of them pass a rigorous testing ensuring their reliability. This should have an impact on the price, but we did not see this process inflate their RRP.

Style and design

Formex has a unique style of their own. The watches do not look like any other current brand. We believe that this is due to their approach which is that function follows form.

The cases are the base of the watches, weather they are made of titanium, carbon or steel, they are well manufactured, and they include features such as their patented shock case. These unique designs add not only protection to the movement, but it is also more comfortable to the wearer. The case is usually bold and wide but not overwhelming.

We saw some of the earliest design and they do include similar ideas, but we feel that at the moment they found a more refined execution.

On their divers and GMTs, we also have the snap on bezel capability, which can be classified as an aesthetic change but also changes the capability of the watch, for example in seconds, you can convert a GMT watch into a Diver.

Another part that we need to mention is the bracelet, all of them include on the fly adjustment to avoid tools and cumbersome methods. But what really stands out is their deployment clasp for the rubber or leather straps. They include 2 side buttons which allow you to increase or decrease the length after the clasp is set on the strap. I enjoy also how they offer it in steel or carbon fibre to match the case, attention to detail.

The dials are also something to highlight. Glossy, matte, and brushed are the ones chosen and they are well executed. There has been several revisions of the logo and we believe that the latest iteration suits the brand more.

Who is the target audience?

Formex has always catered to the sport enthusiast. Mostly the kind of collector that know about watches and what they need to have in terms of technology to perform well. The appreciation for new materials is also key. These specifications give the user a lighter and stronger watch, a piece that won’t come off out of the wrist very often. Formex watches are not reserved for special occasions, they are made to create them.

We often draw parallels between price ranges and watch technology. Formex will provide you with a similar experience than watches costing 8 times the price. Take for example the weight and premium materials used to create a Richard Mile. We are talking about a watch that is out of the budget for most of us. I am not saying that Formex is an alternative as it does not have the research and development used for the movements but in terms of feel, it is very comparable, with their watches can wight as little of 50 grams and achieving similar numbers of hardness at the Vickers’s scale.

Putting the materials a side, these are watches that are created for outdoors. They do feel at home when they are being used and not only shown. Biking? no problem as the shock system will take those hits. Perhaps you want to go running or play tennis? Well, the lightweight nature will bring comfort forgetting what you have strapped on. These are watches that perform.

Their current line up

Formex catalogue it is very simple and that is part of their strength too, it is divided in 3 categories: Essence, Reef and Field. Let us have a closer look.


In this line up you can find one of the core models. It holds their patented shock case technology and comes in different variations: Steel and forged carbon. They also come in 39, 41 and 43 milometers. They can also come with their steel bracelet, rubber, leather or canvas straps, they all perform well.

Formex -Essence Malachite

Formex Essence Thirty Nine Malachite Automatic Chronometer   Styled Shot on Leather Strap

Formex -Essence x COCAB Limited Edition

Img 2723

Formex - Reef

As the name might suggest, this is their aquatic range. It is one of the latest additions and includes a GMT version. They all have an array of dials colours and combinations. Their snap on bezel technology also allows to change the look in seconds. All the watches are COSC certified and perform admirably.

Img 2719

Formex - Field

The Field line up is simple but powerful. A GADA watch with screw down crown, a very thin profile and sandwich dials which are easy to read. They are all made of titanium, a grey look that not only is light way but utilitarian. The colours are also a standout with purple, green and royal blue.

Formex - Field Charcoal

Img 2716

What is coming?

We can safely say that this ‘’second’’ evolution of the brand has been well received. The quality is outstanding, and the amount of innovative technology is something that we do not see often. How many micro brands have their own patent? Well, Formex owns quite a few.

We have seen some of the works that Formex is doing in the near future, we cannot comment as they are under embargo but really enjoy the direction and continuity of design language.

We have seen the new Leggera EISENKIESEL with its new stone dial which proves that the brand is not ready to stop on trying different approaches. What we enjoy about the Formex is that they take innovation seriously, as a challenge.

We are looking forward to their new developments. Everything seems very different from other brands in this space and we hope it continues to develop further. As  watch enthusiasts we really enjoy sports watches when they are done right, not copying or ‘’taking’ ’inspiration from other designs out there.  They are creating watches that would last no matter what you decided to put them through. This to me it is true luxury.

Alerte New Release : the Essence 39mm MALACHITE

Formex Essence Thirty Nine Malachite Automatic Chronometer   Wrist Shot on Rubber Strap   on 6.25  Wrist

Article written by Robbie and Watches

Created the 2023-12-01

Modified the 2023-12-01

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