Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Curious Case Of Formex

I have been covering this beat (watches) for a minute or two. And I've seen a lot of hype, a lot of bombast and a lot of hyperbole. And that can sell watches. At least for a little while. Usually, invariably, Goliath wins. There have been a few outliers. Plucky little brands with compelling stories, but when you are fighting it out in the $900 - $2,000 price category more often than not you are the grease that lubricates the wheels of the bigger brands.

But for every rule, there is an exception. And that exception is, in fact, the exceptional Formex -

Courtesy of Formex
And for me, as an impartial observer, the Essence embodies, well, the essence of why Formex has quietly become one of the most sought after watch brands (both micro and macro) in recent memory.

Now I know what you're probably thinking - 

  • Celebrity "Chums of the Brand"? 
  • "Manufacture" movement?
  • Shop at Home with "Value Pay" option?
  • Official Watch Partner of an F1 Team?
  • Readily available at retail partners near you?
The answer to all of those questions, as far as I can see, is no. The answer is not any one thing, but rather several small things that when taken on balance, 
have made Formex as sought after as it is.  

Think I'm full of it? Visit the Formex web shop and have a look at the availability of the Formex Essence. Out of 9 options, 7 are currently sold out. Think about that for a moment.
Courtesy of Formex
So what's the secret sauce? A great watch at a fair price? I'm sorry, but that is a bit too simplistic. No offense to Formex, but there are several brands that have trotted that idea out, and unfortunately it is not enough to move the needle. So how did Formex crack the code that so many other brands continue to be baffled by?

As mentioned above, a combination of things. Some that are quite familiar to me from my DOXA days.
  • Accessible - and by that I don't only mean price point, but also that the people selling you the watch are accessible. From what I've heard from Formex owners, communication is strong between Formex and its customers, and customers to be. That creates a pretty strong bond.
  • Quality - again, I've never owned or even handled a Formex, but the feedback out there is fairly unimpeachable.
  • Innovation - and I don't mean watch cases made of "unobtainium", but rather watch cases that have an extra bit of intelligent design thrown in -

Courtesy of Formex
The Formex suspension system is just one example.  In their own words -
  • absorbs shocks to protect the mechanical movement from heavy impacts
  • adds to the comfort on the wrist by adapting to the wearer’s movements

Now this might seem like overkill, but as someone who has had to field the repair/after service woes of customers who might have not understood that a dive watch is not designed to "dive" off of a desk onto a tiled floor. Life happens, and a COSC verified movement will only be accurate if it is protected.

Perhaps the last big piece of the puzzle is being nimble. Formex is a family owned brand with access to everything they need to move not only quickly, but smartly.

So while the now unimpeachable success of Formex is an anomaly in the current reality that is seeing many brands both mighty and small getting "choked out", if the enthusiasm of its customers is anything to go by, they will still be standing tall when we emerge on the other side of this pandemic.

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