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Formex Element Watch Review

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The latest timepiece from the recently revived Formex watch brand is the Formex Element. The Swiss brand boastfully refers to the Element as “the most affordable high-end watch in the world.” I might not join them in applying such poetic license to the description of their product, but I do agree that for under $1,500 USD, there is a lot of timepiece in the Element collection.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex began life as one of the many mechanical watchmakers inspired by the world of professional motor sports. Unlike most other racing-inspired watch brands, Formex timepieces up the ante a bit by not just dressing their watches for the role, but also including a bit of unique technology. They call it “case suspension,” and the idea is actually as practical as it is fitting for car-themed timepieces. I’ve had other Formex watches with a case suspension system, but I have to say that it works particularly well in the Element.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The idea is that the inner case and bezel are attached to the outer case/lugs via four little shocks – each with a small spring inside. If your wrist experiences a jolt, extreme vibration, or other form of shock, the suspension system is designed to absorb it. This way you can keep your jack-hammering job and wear the “world’s most affordable high-end watch” a bit longer until something goes wrong. OK, perhaps the constant vibrational abuse of jack-hammering is a bit too much for any mechanical timepiece, but the logic remains that the Formex Element might just survive where other mechanical watches won’t. Without any particular scenario to consider when I’d wear the watch, the “technical story” alone is enough to get myself (and likely many of you) just that much more emotionally and intellectually interested in this timepiece. Hey, it’s a very competitive mechanical watch market out there, and smaller brands like Formex typically don’t amount to much without interesting extras like the case suspension system – and similar technical or design stories behind their products. At the end of the day, it is really about consumers being in search of originality in the luxury brands they back.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Formex Element case is in steel (with brushed and polished surfaces), with either a black ceramic or matching steel bezel. You pay about $200 more for the ceramic bezel, which is probably worth it since it is a big part of the case’s value proposition in my opinion. Size is on the heftier side of things, with a diameter of 46mm wide and a thickness of 14.5mm with 100m of water resistance. The crystal is covered with a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal, and over the movement Formex opted to go with a tinted sapphire crystal, whose tint is perhaps just a bit darker than it needs to be.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Underneath the crystal is a standard-grade Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph watch. This isn’t perhaps the cheapest watch out there with a 7750, but it certainly is among the more complicated watches in terms of design and construction to offer this really reasonable price point. Formex emphasizes that the case alone has 38 parts. While the outer case is steel, apparently the inner case (movement container as they call is) is in titanium.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex uses the full functionality of the 7750, which means that you get to see the full 12 hour chronograph, time, and date/day complication of the durable and dependable 4Hz, 42 hour power reserve mechanical movement. Formex even added a touch that I find particularly impressive, which is the use of custom day and date discs. Rather than going with a stock black or white-colored disc for the calendar information, the discs are in a brushed steel tone, which harmoniously matches the aesthetic of the hands, hour markers, and sub-dial rings.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The black ceramic bezel is also contrast-finished with the upper section being brushed while the beveled side is polished. Ceramic is much more scratch-resistant than steel, which is the primary reason you want it. There is also the added benefit of its style thanks to the black color. Again, if you prefer a more uniform look to the case, a steel bezel is offered as well for the Element.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let’s talk about the design of the watch overall, and then go into details about the dial. Formex seems to have specifically intended for the Element watches to look familiar (in a modern, macho, sports watch kinda way), with just enough originality so that it didn’t actually look like anything else. The result is a design which I think a lot of newer watch lovers are going to be interested in, but devotees of bigger name watches are likely going to want a bit more originality out of the design. At best, the Formex offers a “baby Hublot” look, with a lot of the same visual themes, at no more than about 10% of the cost of a Hublot.

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Formex Element Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Very little from a design perspective of the Element is original. While the watch itself does not pay homage to any one specific timepiece, you can see little bits and pieces borrowed from a range of brands and models. This isn’t really a sin, given that to be truly original is often deleterious to business interests. However, it means that with the Element, Formex is mainly targeting people who are aspirational. These folks really want the much more expensive “X” model watch, but given the good value and sensibility of the Element, they find it hard to resist. One brand whose watches the Element sort of reminds me of (not so much in specific design, but some of the finishing, and parts) is Ball.

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

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  • Mikita

    “The result is a design which I think a lot of newer watch lovers are going to be interested in, but devotees of bigger name watches are likely going to want a bit more originality out of the design. At best, the Formex offers a “baby Hublot” look, with a lot of the same visual themes, at no more than about 10% of the cost of a Hublot.”

    Surprisingly, “baby Hublot” looks far more original than almost any Hublot. How can a fake AP RO be a “father” watch for some other design? All in all, the Formex looks fine for $1,260: just enough attention to details and some interesting features such as the buckle. However, I hate a typical 7750 layout and at 46 x 15 mm thewatch is simply too big IMO.

    • ProJ

      Agree. It’s ugly and big, and it’s (relatively) well priced for what it offers.

  • Jeffrey Miles

    very boring looking thing – nothing original or new, and its not the prettiest watch either. reasonably priced, but you can get a great Seiko at this price point.

  • SuperStrapper

    Much like pretty much every formex watch ever, the over engineered case trades all aesthetic value for questionably relevant “suspension”.

  • PollyO

    Not my cup of tea. But I don’t mind the watch for what it is, being a brash motor sport inspired piece.

    However, and i’m not sure why they aggravate me so much, this falls right in the category of crap watch brand names. Formex just sounds like a brand of plumbing insulation. Not a high end luxury brand.

    I know that there is no real objective way of assessing this. But some names out there just inexplicably cheapen the thing they are applied to.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Formex?…….Seriously.

    • Lash LaRue de Bayou

      I think does sound like a condom brand to English speakers

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Ribbed for extra pleasure.

        • Raphael Granito

          French: Forme Extrème

          • Raphael Granito

            I’d name a condom brand Forsex. Pretty self-explanatory and you’d only have to change one letter

  • Whenever I see a product so clearly created for the whims of the company owner, rather than for the prevailing market direction, I always wonder how such a company manages to stay in business for as long as it does. Formex has been around for almost 20 years – has anyone owned one? No. Ever meet someone that has? No. Ever read a spirited discussion among Formex owners on a watch blog? No.

    I suppose when your father owns Dexel SA – the company that manufactures cases, bracelets and clasps for Hublot, Graham, and Girard Perregaux – you have enough cash in your trust fund to be a dilettante watch designer. And I’m using the term ‘designer’ rather loosely, as every element (pardon the pun) of this piece is objectively terrible. From the name (which sounds like a topical herpes medication) to the strap to everything in between. It’s a big, ugly, chunky, inelegant, half-assed conglomeration of cast-off design cues abandoned by the houses that do business with Daddy.

    • Raphael Granito

      I agree, what a douche move to create a watch that you like and stand behind rather than busting out something that is easy to produce and easy to sell. I’d rather spend my day posting dickhead comments about somebody I don’t know while hiding behind a cute pseudonym.

      • Greetings, and welcome to the internet. Where people don’t always nod their heads in agreement, the comments are occasionally ascerbic, sometimes the truth hits too close to home, and money can’t buy class.

        • Raphael Granito

          Thanks. Would love to discuss that over some drinks. As you are probably from the region, why don’t you join us at the monthly members meeting of Watch Industry Connected, an association I’m a part of, founded for people working in the industry and passionate about watches. It’s next Monday 6:30pm at Restaurant Autrement in Biel. We’re hosting Cyrano Devanthey & Dominique Buser, both engineers at Urwerk, and they will share a presentation on Urwerk and OSCiLLON.

          We host these events once a month and it’s usually pretty interesting. We’d love to have you with us.

          https://www.facebook.com/events/217852605439766/

          • Sheez Gagoo

            I am from the region. And I love drinks. And I like your watches. But I seriously love drinks.

          • Good Gene 42K18

            If Raphael calls you a dickhead or a shithead or something, it’s (probably) just the alcohol talking.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            could live with it.

          • Raphael Granito

            Not calling anyone anything here. The meeting has been moved to Restaurant Merkur in Bienne though, in case you’re still interested in that drink and the ensuing horological discussion with the Urwerk dudes…

          • Sheez Gagoo

            I’m deeply sorry, the cold weather caused a massive flu. I would be pleased to come next time. Sorry.

          • Raphael Granito

            Sorry to hear mate, get well. There are more meetings ahead, just check on facebook to see what’s next.

          • Raphael Granito

            Join us Monday, the meetings are very relaxed and informal. After the presentation we usually have dinner and just chat

    • Former Formex owner here. They actually have original designs and custom made cases/hands/dials etc, at very reasonable prices. I enjoyed mine for a few years — which is more than I can say for many other brands that passed through my hands.

      • Tempvs Mortvvs

        I had one too and i liked it a lot. It was a 325GT, i think. With blue dial. The bracelet, dial, hands and case were really well made. The presentation box was very cool too. What i did not like were the silicon strap (dust catcher) and the crappy vynil, or something like iti, strap. Man, that thing looked so crappy and out of place with the rest of the watch.

        • I had the original run of the DS2000 automatic GMT. It was my first expensive watcha and I enjoyed the heck out of wearing it. Even with <7'' wrists.

          • Raphael Granito

            Thanks for sharing your experience! We still have some of the last production runs of the DS2000 on hand and they are classics.

        • I always wore it on a bracelet and custom made leather straps but never on the rubber/silicone straps provided. They looked great but when I put them on they didn’t feel right for some reason.

          However, when you consider that for the price you get a fully custom made swiss watch (w/out stock parts) on a custom bracelet + 2 custom OEM straps + the big case etc. that is A LOT OF WATCH of the money.

          And on a final note, I could care less if someone recognizes the brand of the watch I wear. In fact I PREFER not to wear recognizable watches.

          • Gokart Mozart

            I agree with you about not wearing a watch brand people do not recognise. I buy a watch / car / hi-fi because i like it not because people know what it is. But saying that a name that is slightly appropriate to the product would be a bit of an idea.

            Just google Formex and within the first 10 entries apart from the watch company there was,
            Flame Retardent Materials,
            Biannual Trade fair on interior design,
            Formex Archive services

            Saying that if i could afford to but a Patek, I would skip it and buy a Lamm amplifer.

    • Good Gene 42K18

      In my opinion FP Journe seems like a brand that exists more to satisfy the horological tastes of FP himself rather than the market. It just so happens that people other than him enjoy his watches too (including myself).
      FP Journe: great watches, kind of a dick.

  • Hai Nghiem

    with this design they will soon collect dust on the shelve waiting to be revived again. lol. The only brand which survives on large size watch is Panerai, and they are churning out 38mm and thinner size watch. The ROO is now mostly in 42mm size. The large size is not fashionable anymore, and less so with such a horrible design. A skeletonized case, really? Can anybody name one popular watch with skeletonized case please? It works for Hublot & Richard Mille because they have tons of money for marketing and they need to somehow justify their prices with non-functional complexity. For this kind of brand, it is just stupid.
    And the name Formex means nothing to the watch world so why bother keeping it? Something like Forme’ du Temps sounds way sexier (I dont know what it means lol)

  • Tempvs Mortvvs

    I like it. A lot. Except it is too large.

    • Raphael Granito

      stay tuned for smaller versions and other models that are going to come in smaller cases with different movements.
      https://www.formexwatch.com/en/#newsletter

      • ProJ

        Do you work for Formex, or are you just a fan?

        • Raphael Granito

          Both 🙂

          • ProJ

            Thanks for replying. I just finished browsing your website. Can’t say I am a fan of the case designs, but the overall value seems to be good. Good luck.

          • Raphael Granito

            Thanks for the visit ProJ, always good to hear feedback, even if the watches are not to your taste. We have a lot planned for the future, but we’re a small team making the best use of our resources. New models are in the pipeline and through our direct-to consumer model our value proposition will always remain good.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    It’s difficult to tell from these pictures, but it looks a little roughly constructed.
    I loved the review, Ariel will usually stick up for the little guy, so is very equivocal. But at the risk of misreading him, I really don’t get (like) this watch either. Sure it’s a tool watch, and it’s meant to represent value. But I associate this these looks with much, much cheaper watches.

  • johnwithanh

    Matching the finishing of the text on the day/date window to the finishing of the day/date window is a good look. Other than that it’s not really my thing.

  • PollyO

    . Neoprene Men’s Girdle
    . Corrugated Roof Sheeting
    . Fishing Boat Canopy
    . Caravan Trailer
    . Adult Sanitary Napkins

    Things that Formex makes me think of.

    I’m trying to move past this but I just can’t let it go…

    • Raphael Granito

      The name stems from the french words: forme extrème

      • Lash LaRue de Bayou

        I like your watch. The name, though, sounds awkward to me. It also makes me think of a concrete company or a maker of industrial fasteners.

  • Mikita

    So many people ranting about how the “Formex” sounds.. May I ask, what do you guys think of “Rolex”? Does it sound like a haute horlogerie brand? Or more like a cough syrup?

    • PollyO

      Cough syrup. But whenever i did something stupid in my youth and justified it by saying that my friends did it also, my father would ask “If they jumped off a bridge would you do that too?”

      • Mikita

        My father would tell me exactly same thing, except that he would change a bridge with a roof 🙂

    • Marius

      You are raising a very valid point. However, I wouldn’t describe Rolex as a haute horologerie brand. To me, Rolex as well as Omega are essentially two mid-tier brands offering mass-produced and machine-made watches. Rolex and Omega are charging very similar prices to higher-end brands such as JLC, Blancpain or Glashütte Original, but that’s not because they offer the same level of fit & finish, but mostly because of the huge marketing budgets intended to hype up these two brands. Personally, $3,000 – $4,000 is about the maximum amount I would pay for a Rolex/Omega.

    • Lash LaRue de Bayou

      It always made me think of a Rolodex, even though, I know, Rolex came first. Rolex to me conjures up images of finely made (but mass produced) gear. I also think of Rolo chocolate but I’m a strange animal.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I think of Polo the car.

      • DanW94

        Strange LaRue, kill what’s inside of you.

        • Lash LaRue de Bayou

          Now whatchu gonna do?

          • DanW94

            When Hulkamania runs wild on you?!?!

    • Actually Rolex would indicate some roll-forming company ( garage door panels, building panels, roll-formed profiles… stuff like that). Formex is a bit more general, I would imagine all kinds of forming, cold and warm, maybe even extrusion?

      • Mikita

        Rolex – roll-to-roll coaters, Formex – some kind of evaporating equipment, forming layers. What about Kentex? 🙂

        • Kentex is Goretex’s competition, no?

          • Mikita

            I’ve just had a brilliant hypothesis: Rolex may be some premium line of Durex.

          • Gokart Mozart

            Probably because all the extra text will give you a ribbed for pleasure effect. plus its Swiss cheese flavoured.

  • Marius

    In my view, this is a very decent offering. Personally, I would never wear a watch costing less than £/€/$7,000, but I have to say that this is not a terrible watch.

    Granted, the Formex name has no connection whatsoever with a watch brand, and to me, this name would be more apt for a manufacturer of power drills. However, the components appear to be of a good quality. The dial (hands and hour markers) are nicely-finished, and the case is quite complex and well-made considering this price point. The day/date disks produced in brushed steel is a nice touch, and the detailing of the case is quite complex. Also, the 7750 is a very good choice at this level. Some people might find this watch too big and chunky, but personally, I find it quite cool-looking.

    Overall, at under $1,500, this is not a bad watch. If I were poor and destitute, I would much rather spend $1,500 on a Formex (or whatever it’s called) than on a Sevenfriday produced in China. At this price point, there are few decent alternatives, two of them being the Seiko Presage with the urushi dial ($1,100), and the Oris Aquis ($1,800), but you have to keep in mind that these are all three-handers.

    • BNABOD

      I suppose so but I would have gone with sledge hammer rather than power drill.
      1500 bucks can get you plenty of “swiss made” chronos from Chr ward, to Steinhart, to a crap load of other brands. granted they cannot all be used as WMDs but there are options.

      • Mikita

        Steinhart can’t match Chr. Ward or Formex quality-wise IMO. First of all, they order their cases in China. I’ve also seen some quality issues like fingerprints on the dial, sharp edges of the cases. Steinhart are solid players $600.

        • BNABOD

          True about stein but plenty others can be found for around 1500. Even a ML Pontos chrono can be had around that price with in house case made

          • Mikita

            Indeed, I think that major competitors in the 1k – 2k range will be Oris, ML and column-wheel Seikos (Brightz, Presage, etc.).

  • Pete L

    Ridiculous negativity in the comments aside I quite like this. I know many will say it is too big (some of us still like larger watches regardless of ‘fashion’ trends and this is a sports watch after all?) and the brand is relatively unknown but so what? A brand name is only a name (Formex/Durex/Rolex whatever) and the dislike of this shows only too well how much stupid snobbery there is in the watch blog world. If you want a high end brand name you will pay for it (and in some cases with questionable actual quality to show for it) and that is your choice but don’t beat up on the little guy.
    Personally I really like the open lugs and the suspension system is a nice idea. The dial is legible too and everything seems in proportion.
    A good movement in a well thought out package for a reasonable price. Agree with Ariel that it would benefit from a rubber strap option.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Personally Pete, however ridiculous my comments may seem i still reserve the right to say what i like about a watch up for comment without reproach. I’m far from a snob but a brand name is not just a brand name….get real. I wouldn’t be seen dead in a Formex. Just imagine the blank stares. Loads of names i would wear before strapping this on my wrist.

      • Kuroji

        I believe Durex makes something for your strap on.

  • DanW94

    A bit clunky in my estimation but not bad. Pricing puts it in the discussion with other 7750 based chronos from Hamilton, Fortis, Victorinox, etc…So if you’re looking for something from a brand off the beaten path, this might work for you. Variety is the spice of life.

  • Joe

    “Yes, especially in my younger days.” sounds like a polite way of saying “no” 🙂

    Not for me, especially from a size consideration.
    Is it the angle form which the photos are taken or are the hour markers slightly offset from where they should be?

    • Raymond Wilkie

      It’s very difficult to tell what with reflection and the like.

  • Yan Fin

    On an almost improbable occasion that this is a sponsored post: please make it 5-6 mm smaller and came back. Thank you.

    • Kuroji

      5-6mm thinner would be great.

  • Raymond Wilkie
    • Good Gene 42K18

      I ice-dance in that, only mine is more cyan.

  • BJ314

    Beautiful case
    Ugly bezel
    Ugly font
    Ugly hands
    Ugly dial
    Ugly subdials
    Ugly logo
    Ugly strap

    verdict = ugly watch

  • BJ314

    Formex sounds like the name for a technologically advanced tampon for the woman of the future.

  • Good Gene 42K18

    Close down the comments, Raphael. Pull a Nezumi.

    • Raphael Granito

      I wouldn’t If I could. This is quite entertaining

  • Raymond Wilkie

    So we’re all agreed, the name stinks.

  • Kuroji

    Formex name is appropriate , because this makes me think of ants spraying acid in my eyes.

  • Nathan Likes Watches

    There is some good and bad, In my honest humble opinion:

    BAD:
    – Case – 46mm too big for me. I understand this is a great fit for some (larger wrist, wrist presence etc.). Don’t really care for the hexagons visible at the corner, or the hexagon stamp on the crown.
    – Name – Someone asks what you’re wearing, “Formex”, sounds a bit like an industrial brand like some allude to. Most would not think you a wearing a $1500 watch, but rather something along the lines of a Timex?
    – Movement isn’t necessarily attractive, could maybe be better with a stamped case back instead of a window.

    GOOD:
    – Price – Swiss movement, Sapphire.
    – Raised Hour Markers.
    – Day of the week.

    Love the comments on this one lol.

    • Igor

      I would have to agree with your assessment, especially the oversized case and ‘Formex’ name negatives. I think the price may be a tad high as well, but not unreasonable.

  • Can the suspension be tweaked for better cornering? Can one get some aftrmarket coilovers/ Bilstein shocks?

  • Nicholas Barkly

    Ariel, you mention in your younger days you would wear this Formex Element .how old are you ?not very old .ridiculous comment.
    The case does not appear tonneau shaped at all also ?
    The Hublot’s you reference are so crazily overpriced .
    I’ve owned Vacheron, Glashutte,Patek,Rolex,Blancpain,and 10 other high end brands.
    All overpriced rip offs , 5-15K overpriced each.

  • Tea Hound

    A nice amount of watch for the money. And well done on the custom date wheel. I wish more would bother.

  • Nello Alexandri

    The dial looks dull. There is too much date window decoration and text for a sport watch. The case looks interesting, but almost like a reject from the RM design team.

  • sim chung keat

    suspension is similar to Wyler that is currently defunct.