Today, we’re reviewing the Formex watch that many of you are most familiar with. Previously, we’ve looked at the Formex Pilot Chronograph and the Formex Essence Chronometer, which is their take on a dress watch. In terms of design, the Formex Element Chronograph sort of splits the difference between those two watches, and we got to spend some time with a loaner recently.

So, how exactly does the Formex Element split the difference? It’s obviously got the larger dimensions of the Formex Pilot, and they both house the same movement. In terms of the overall styling, however, it’s taken in a slightly more subtle direction, and we can see how that influenced what became the Formex Essence. This is most prevalent in the case suspension system. From the sides, it’s there and visible, but color-matched to the other materials around it (titanium and steel). On the front of the watch, the suspension system is made to look more like fasteners holding the bezel in place, rather than being outboard (and their own thing) – again, taking things in a subtler direction. So, while the Formex Pilot is maybe more akin to a muscle car bombing down the road with open headers, the Formex Element is more like a modern sports car – all the power, just not quite as noisy.

The dial design of the Formex Element is a bit more subdued as well, Gone is the carbon fiber and big, bold handset. In it’s place is something more akin to a “traditional” chronograph dial, with bezels surrounding the subdials that report out chronograph information, which gives the dial an nicely balanced look and feel. The handset here, while broad, is skeletonize, with lume only on the outer half of the hands (which sort of remind of a fountain pen nib). The indices on the dial – also lumed – then mimic (but don’t quite mirror) the shape of the end of the hour hand.

While the Formex Element has a few different strap and bracelet options available to it, we spent most of our time with the leather strap. As we say on the Formex Essence, this has a rather clever deployant buckle setup, complete with a carbon composite clasp. The buckle (which cleverly picks up the lines from the case lugs) has the first deployment buttons hidden on it’s side, with the second release revealed when the first part is opened up. It’s perhaps needlessly complex (especially compared to a plain old thumbnail buckle) but it was rather intriguing, and good fun to play with. Not to mention, it all locked securely into place and felt robust, unlike some that rely solely on friction that can pop open at random times.

This makes for a good fit, which is something you want when you’ve got a bulkier 46mm case on your wrist, which is what the Formex Element is. As with the Formex Pilot, the angles of lugs do help to snug the case in, and the suspension system gives you some, well, give when you’re buckling in for launch. On the wrist, I was struck most by the crisp contrast from the steel case to the black ceramic bezel (not of the shiny sort, good in my book) to the bright white of the dial. And while polished hands over a white dial could be difficult to view, I did not encounter any issues with reading the time – some points of that score need to go to the AR coating on the sapphire crystal.

Suffice to say, the Formex Element is an very easy-to-read, and surprisingly wearable (for it’s size) watch. And, if you’re in the market for a chronograph, and like the Formex suspension system, you’ve got a hard choice to make. Compared to the Formex Pilot, the Formex Element is only a few dollars more ($1,590) and available in a few different color combos, as well as strap / bracelet choices. Of the three watches I looked at from the brand, the Formex Essence is definitely more to liking, but I don’t think you would go wrong with any of them. Wear what makes you happy, and go forth into that brave new world.

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Formex Element Chronograph (Ref 1200.5.8017.713)
  • Price: $1,590
  • Who’s it for? You liked what you saw with the Formex Pilot, but want a design look that’s a little less “in your face”
  • Would I wear it? Again, it boils down to being a large chronograph not working it’s it’s favor for my preferences.
  • What I’d change: If the “daytime” look is more subtle, why not have some fun with luminous paint. Say, around the chronograph subdial rings?
  • The best thing about it: The interplay between the materials (and hues) as viewed from the front

Tech Specs from Formex

  • Movement
    • ETA Valjoux 7750 (13 1/4”) Automatic, Chronograph with weekday and date display.
    • 42 hour power reserve
  • Case
    • Diameter: 46mm
    • Height: 14.5mm
    • Specials: Patented case suspension
    • Waterproofness: 10ATM (100 m)
  • Material
    • Case: Stainless Steel 316L
    • Container: Titanium Grade 2
    • Bezel: Zirconium Oxide Ceramic
    • Glass: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment
    • Strap: Black Italian oiled calf leather with white stitching
    • Clasp: Folding clasp with carbon fibre composite frame with fine adjustment function and stainless steel 316L clasp
  • Dial: White polished base with machined indexes, 60 second scale on the flange and super luminova on hands and indexes
  • Reference number: 1200.5.8017.713

Last Update: July 19, 2019