Formex AS1100 Chronograph
Things are changing in the watch world, and have been the past few years. There is a lot of competition in the marketplace with new brands popping up all the time, and along with a bad economy, and we have seen some brands have to close their doors or sell the company just to keep it afloat. Formex Watches saw the changes happening, and recently they have changed their sales strategy from using authorized dealers in brick and mortar stores, to selling exclusively online via their website. I have seen a few other brands take this approach and it is interesting to see how it plays out. Obviously doing it this way, there’s less overhead involved and they can sell the watches at a cheaper price because they do not need as much of a markup to compensate for dealer fees.
Formex AS1100 Chronograph Specifications:
- Movement ETA Valjoux 7750 (13¼”’) Automatic, Chronograph with weekday and date display
- Case Diameter: 46.5mm
- Case Thickness: 53mm
- Material: Titan G2 / Stainless steel 316L 1.044
- Height: 14mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Specials: Patented case suspension
- Water Resistnatce: 10ATM (100 m)
- Top and bottom sapphire crystal anti-reflective and hard-coated
- Bracelet: Titanium and Steel
Price $1350 USD
I have been a fan of Formex Watches for many years, so when I saw the change in marketing by Formex, I reached out to get one in hand for a review here. The Formex AS1100 being reviewed is similar to the older styles of Formex, and in some ways different as well. Their current crop of models can be had in many variations, but they are all based on the same case design. They have been able to take that one design and make 3 very different looking watches and with all the variations, which include different movements, dial colors, bracelets or straps and PVD coatings, looking at their website can be a little overwhelming to try and make a decision.
I chose the Formex AS1100 Chronograph with the blue dial and stainless/titanium bracelet because I wanted to see what their top tier watch was like. Priced at about $1,350, this is not an inexpensive watch, nor is it in the luxury watch category. Like many of you reading this, you know $1,350 can buy a lot of watch these days, and while Formex is not a new brand on the scene, they have not been at the forefront of many conversations the past few years. That might be due to marketing, or just so many other brands out there that catches our eye, but Formex is back in a new way, so let me show you what they are producing these days.
The Formex AS1100 Chronograph ( and all current Formex models) is a large watch. But written specs can be deceiving. I have been wearing many 42-44mm watches lately, so 46mm in a square style case was initially intimidating. After getting it in hand though and putting it on the wrist, it is still a large watch, but in width. In length, at 53mm, which I know is large for some, the way it sits on the wrist and with how the lugs curve down, makes it very wearable for me. It is not something that would be an everyday watch for me, but completely doable.
7 1/2 inch wrist
The case is constructed of steel and titanium, and is actually a multi-piece case, as it houses a patented suspension system, which I demonstrate in the video above. The suspension system, which acts a shock absorber of sorts, has been one of the identifying characteristics of Formex for many years, and it continues with the Formex AS1100 Chronograph. Many companies have tried to figure out how to reduce shock to the movement on a watch, especially automatic movements, which are a little more temperamental than your standard quartz. Some have used special movement holders, some have done molded rubber bumpers around the case, and Formex has their suspension system. On an older 4Speed model I had years ago, the suspension system was a little different, and did not have the piston/lug combination found on these new models. While that older Formex is long gone and I can not compare the two, I believe it functions very much the same way, but is different in appearance. How well does it really work? Well, I did not go purposely throwing this watch around to see if it is as advertises, but I did not have any issues in the past with the older model. Sorry, I wasn’t about to try and purposely damage the watch. All that said, I am not in love with the piston/screw system as it has never been an aesthetic I enjoy, but overall the case is well made and a little funky, which is not a bad thing.
As I just stated above, the the Formex AS1100 Chronograph is well made, I really did not find any issues with case or bracelet construction, though I wish the bracelet used screws instead of friction pins. The bracelet itself is constructed of titanium and stainless steel, like the case, and really wraps nicely around the wrist. A dual deployant clasp is used to secure it, and while the clasp functions just fine, it does not have any micro adjustments. The links are relatively small though, so getting a good fit should not be a problem. If you do not like the look or are just not a bracelet person, then there is a rubber strap with a deployant clasp and also many leather options. I show the rubber strap in the video. It is more of a silicone rubber, which I don’t care for, as I expected a natural rubber. It is also a cut to size, which means measure twice, cut once, or you will be on the phone with the company trying to get another strap.
I love a sunray dial. Not on all watches, but I do love how, especially if done right, it glimmers in the light and will change from a lighter to a darker hue. The Formex AS1100 Chronograph was done right. In this instance, the blue looks like a royal blue in certain light, and almost has a dark navy tint in others. It is a beautiful dial and overall not too cluttered for an ETA 7750 movement. Unfortunately the one area of the dial that is lacking is the lume. Not only is there just not enough lume compound applied, but I really was hoping the numbers would be lumed, and sadly as you can see below, they are not. While this is not a dive watch and really does not need to be lumed, I have always been a proponent of doing things right if you are going to do them at all. So, if you are going to apply lume compound to hands and markers, slather it on so that it will light up the room at night. If this watch was $200, I could forgive its lackluster lume, at $1,350, I expected much better.
The Formex AS1100 Chronograph uses an ETA 7750 automatic movement, which utilizes a chronograph and a day/date readout. This is a tried and true movement, and fits within the pricing of this model as well. Its power reserve is listed at 42 hours and of course when you give the watch a shake, it has that undeniable vibration from the rotor. As with most automatic chronographs, you get the instant reset of the chrono hand as well. While the decoration of the movement here is nothing spectacular, Formex did brand the rotor and you do get a sapphire crystal on the back.
As you can easily surmise, the Formex AS1100 Chronograph is not a winner for me. That does not mean it wouldn’t be for you, but that it just didn’t tickle me in all the right spots. I think the lack of lume and the piston screws is what really makes this not a winner for me, and in hindsight I would have probably liked Formex’s 3 hand diver over this chronograph, as I think the dive bezel would detract from the screws and from what I can see on the Formex website, has a larger surface area of lume applied as well.
The construction of the Formex AS1100 Chronograph is solid though and even though I pointed a few things out I would have liked executed differently, on the whole I think they have a watch that is a contender, and something that does not look like so many others as well. Face it, after awhile, so many watches have so many similar characteristics, Formex with this design and the patented suspension system do stand out, that is for sure. Ordering online is easy as well, and price on the website is all inclusive of taxes, customs fees and shipping. UPS was used for its travel into the US, which took just two days. While I have not fallen head over heels in love with this model, I am excited to see what the future holds for Formex, and applaud them for giving new marketing and sales strategy a try. These days selling online direct and using social media as way of getting it out there is the big thing, and it seems to work well for many. This can be a new chapter for Formex, and I hope that it is.