In the Nantes region of France, a very interesting project is unfolding in an independent workshop run by William Suquet. Système Formel is a brand that puts visual art on the same footing as the art of watchmaking, combining the two in a truly artisanal way that has resulted in an aesthetically arresting run of watches. With a handsome, cushion-shaped case carrying hand-painted dials to market, the first two collections of watches are ready to make their way in the world.
The watches come with both a 22mm bracelet and a comfortable fabric strap that boasts an unusual button closure mechanism (as opposed to a more traditional ardillon buckle). The stainless steel cases measure 38mm across and 48.4mm from lug-to-lug. The total watch height, which is increased slightly by the domed mineral glass, comes in at 11.2mm.
Powered by the manual ETA 2801-2, which has been decorated with a deeply engraved hatching pattern, these watches are designed to be easily serviced whenever necessary, either by the Système Formel workshop or by a local watchmaker, whatever the customer’s preference. Thanks to a five-year warranty, peace of mind has been placed front and center in the list of purchase persuasions. The ETA 2801-2 has an operating frequency of 28,800vph, a hacking mechanism to enable time setting to the second, and a power reserve of 48 hours.
Interestingly, Système Formel has conceived its own in-house certified pre-owned program. Although the exact details of this are yet to be finalized, the basic concept will enable an owner to sell the watch back to the company so that any potential future owners that have registered their interest in the brand will be able to gain access to a unique piece (as all Système Formel watches are) through official channels. Following resale, the pre-loved watches will carry a further two-year warranty, courtesy of the brand.
To find out more about the concept behind the brand, we spoke to founder William Suquet about his motivations and plans for the development of the brand.
What compelled you to found Système Formel?
There is no doubt that the prime motivator of this project was my love of horology. The watch is the canvas for my art, but still, the watch itself must also be seen as art. I am endlessly fascinated by the intricate mechanics of watchmaking and really enjoyed the interplay between components in the same way that color and form intersect in my art. It is that correlation that led me to believe Système Formel had the foundations to be a cohesive and connective project.
What does the name actually mean?
I am very interested in mathematics and frequently use mathematical formulae in my work. “Formal system” is a term used in the discipline of mathematical logic and visual abstraction. It seemed to be a neat way to sum up the brand, and it also has a nice ring to it in my native tongue.
There are very clearly two series of watches available right now. What’s the story behind these?
The two series we have launched thus far are entitled Early Series 1: Triangle, and Early Series Two: Cercle. The initial series is the far more colorful of the two. The result is a bright and engaging run of 10 unique pieces.
The more somber follow-up uses white circles on a dark gray background, again, with a focus on expression for each unique dial. Both series are expressions of the Formel System that will define all subsequent collections and offer clear insight into the different styles and moods that can be achieved by exploring these mathematical principles further.
What’s next for Système Formel?
Although it is an ambitious goal, we hope to one day manufacture every component in-house so we can launch our own exclusive caliber. Before that, however, I have plans to explore the concepts of Système Formel through nine series of watches, each sporting visual variations of the dial. Each series will be comprised of 10 unique pieces, and a different mathematical theme will be exercised each time around. My interest in mathematics was sired by my engineering background but is something to which I am deeply attached on a personal level. Part of the beauty of mathematics, to me, is that they play such a huge part in everything around us and have at their root, in my opinion, the very essence of beauty. Capturing, manipulating, and expressing that is a long-term goal of Système Formel.
As yet, Système Formel watches are only available directly through the company’s website, but viewings can be arranged in Paris or abroad if necessary, and international shipping is available. To help potential customers stay on top of developments, a brand newsletter and active social media presence have been established. In the future, the plan is for Système Formel watches to be stocked in selected retail boutiques. The price for each unique piece will be €2,800, and delivery is ready to start right away. To find out more, visit systemeformel.com.