Formex is a Swiss brand that until very recently I was totally unaware of.
Started in 1999 by H.P.Gradel and partners, the company had no prior history of making watches. As a result, they were not motivated to fall back on any watch designs from the past. The two areas of interest to the company, motorsports and diving/water related activities, are the primary inspiration for the watches they have decided to produce. Currently the company has three series of watches available; AS1100, DS2100 and TS3100. For this review I evaluating the DS2100 model 7020.
This watch model caught my attention because it is a dive watch with a design unlike any other. The watch is 46.5 mm x 14 mm and is made out of titanium and 316L stainless steel. I believe the titanium is considered to be grade 2. Titanium is available in many grades and in this case, it is primarily used in the construction of the case and the bracelet. The watch case (and all other Formex watch cases) is suspended in a vertically sliding patented suspension system which connects the case back of the watch to the lower part of the suspension and the bracelet and lugs to the upper part of the suspension system. I don’t know exactly where this system has an advantage, but I suspect it is worthwhile for activities where there is considerable motion or vibration transmitted through the wearer’s arm.
What really matters to me (and probably most of the people that purchase this watch) is all the components are carefully assembled and finished, resulting in one of the coolest looking dive watches out there. The real standouts for me, are the watch case and bracelet, both of which defy conventional watch design, but work beautifully. The case is carefully polished (or chromed?) and brushed along with the case back, lugs and bracelet. The beefy billet like watch lugs are turned downward at an approximately 45 degree angle that keeps the watch close to the wrist. The large 3 o’clock crown is easy to grip, well finished and looks like it is sliding in a track on the side of the case, created by the suspension system. The case back is the exhibition type with very clear engraving, nicely brushed finish, neatly finished screw heads and suspension mounts. The automatic movement, an ETA 2823-2, is very well protected.
The bracelet used on this watch model is designed for it alone and is not used by any other watch company. The quality, feel and precision of the bracelet’s seven rows of solid titanium links as well as the polished (or possibly chromed?) deployment buckle and brushed clasp are absolute perfection, in my book. In addition, once properly sized, this watch is extremely comfortable to wear, even for long periods of time. I want to thank Formex for sizing the bracelet perfectly for my seven inch wrist.
The black face of this particular watch model combined with the black, brushed and polished bezel really completes the look of this watch. This watch is also offered with a blue or red face with matching straps as well as with a black titanium bracelet, black leather/white stitched strap or a black silicone strap with black stainless folding clasp. The face has nice round and rectangular chrome surrounding white hourly indices. White second markings and 1/5 second markings are incorporated into a flat black background, all slightly raised from the rest of the watch face. The rest of the face has a gloss black background. Lume is excellent, but isn’t specified as to type or grade. There is no lume on the 120 click unidirectional black bezel and it is very nicely finished with a slightly tapered chrome gear edge. The wide black skeleton hour and minute hands are about 50% white lumed toward the tips as well. The three date calendar at 3 o’clock is a welcome change from the single date window used for most dive watches. There is quite a bit of white and red lettering on the face, but it all balances out perfectly with the red “DATE” to the left of the three date window.
Powering this Swiss made watch is a very popular Swiss workhorse, the ETA 2824-2. It has 25 jewels, 28,800 vph with 38 hour reserve. In ETA’s standard grade, it is adjusted in two positions to +/- 12 seconds per day. My example is about 10 seconds a day fast. I really like automatic movements to have an exhibition back, and this one is very nicely done. This watch is a wonderful dive watch, for my taste. Overall, it isn’t a homage to any other watch, but it still looks great and is extremely well made. The best part is, at least in the USA where I live, is your not likely to see anyone else wearing a dive watch from Formex or any other watch in the same design. I can’t wait to see what future Formex watch designs will be like! $859 USD www.formexwatch.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.