Editor’s Note: Introducing the new Formex Field Automatic, the brand’s first foray into 2022. For our usual detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is NOT a sponsored post.
What Is It
Whether you do it by yourself or deploy a ‘military’ scale operation, whether you have the time to dig the ‘trenches’ of the internet to scavenge for another watch that offers so much for so little, you simply cannot deny that chances are you might return empty handed with an alternate to the new Formex Field Automatic.
Presenting the 41mm diameter and 10.6mm thick new Formex Field Automatic, one of the best value for money military-style, Swiss made and Swiss movement, entry-level luxury timepieces in the market (and with a date window and sans the 24-hour secondary layout).
With its grade-2 titanium case, a high contrast dial with plethora of colour options, 150m water-resistance, and low pricing starting from 795 USD, the new Formex Field Automatic is geared to tackle any other brands’ field watch offerings head on.
Basic Specs of The New Formex Field Automatic
There are basically two price points for this watch, 795 (1’200 AUD) and 945 USD (1’450 AUD). To get the best of the Formex experience, I would personally go for the higher priced offering, as instead of simply a nylon velcro strap, it offers the watch on a a leather strap and a carbon clasp featuring Formex’s patented fine adjustment system.
We have gone hands-on with the carbon fibre clasps from the brand with their Reef and Essence collections, and to put it straight, there is currently hardly any other brand that offers clasps this good at this price point.
Anyone looking at comparing this with other timepieces would definitely do its wrists a favour by keeping in mind that one of the factors that make Formex watches wear so well is their clasp and the fine adjustment system. Period.
Regardless of which strap option you go for, the new Formex Field Automatic offers a (150m water-resistant) case and a (screw-down) crown in sandblasted grade-2 titanium, with a sapphire crystal covering the dial protecting it from scratches. This case frames the options of Charcoal, Petrol Blue, Ash Grey, Mahogany Red, Ultra Violet, and Sage Green dial colour variations.
Inside the new Formex Field Automatic ticks the tried-and-tested Sellita SW200-1.
The SW200-1 measures 25.60mm in diameter and is 4.6mm in thickness. This self-winding movement features 26 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), and offers an okay 41-hour power reserve.
There are of course uncountable watches around the 1k mark for the watch enthusiasts to choose from, and I can’t list every comparison here.
But to briefly specify, at least the titanium ones, I reckon the new Formex Field Automatic best competes with the following.
For starters, there is the RZE Resolute that features similar case design elements and measurements. It features a solid titanium case with ULTRAHex Coating (up to ~1200Hv hardness while Formex Field features a special hardening treatment that increases the Field’s surface hardness from 145 Vickers to approximately 900 Vickers).
As for specs, the Resolute again is similar with 40.5mm case diameter with 11.5mm thickness and 46mm lug-to-lug spacing. There is also that same 20mm lug interhorn spacing and 65g weight. The Resolute however, features a non-Swiss NH35A movement, less dial colour options, non-Formex clasps, and a slightly lesser 100m water-resistance. An impressive offering though, it retails for ~650 AUD mark.
Some of the other watches besides Hamilton (in no particular order) that come to mind are: Longines Spirit L3.810.1.53.2 (4’000 AUD), Junghans Form A Titan (~1’600 AUD), Farer Exmoor (~1’650 AUD), Christopher Ward C63 Sealander Elite (1’850 AUD), and IWC XVIII Heritage Titanium Automatic IW327006 (7’100).
For those who want even smaller field watches, and are not fussed about a Swiss movement, there is the Boldr Venture Black Dawn in PVD-coated titanium and with a date window. It is much smaller with a 38mm diameter case and 44mm lug-to-lug spacing.
In a nutshell, the new Formex Field Automatic is definitely one of the most exciting recent releases, especially for those who love a bargain, unique case design, Swiss movements, exceptional clasps, crystal clear legibility, decent water-resistance, and/or bold timepieces that suit slim wrists.
How Does The New Formex Field Automatic Do
Formex has obviously done their research and the designers of the watch should get the credit for this. The watch pleases both the horological critic and the architect in me.
Besides the watch’s placement alongside what’s available from the Swiss watch industry, I also appreciate that the case design of the new Formex Field Automatic takes hints from the lines of the case of the Formex Reef and the lugs of the Formex Essence. Albeit with differences, the design of the Formex Field Automatic manages to maintain a sense of homogenous continuity.
The Formex Field’s design hence ends up being both a completely new offering and yet offers a sense of visual conformity to the Formex family (and the design of the date aperture further adds to this).
The best design feature in my opinion is the incorporation of very small lugs that ensure that the dial real estate is there for full frontal exposure. This will hit a sweet spot for a lot of watch enthusiasts out there who like the field watch aesthetics but can’t seem to get the right combination.
Hamilton, a brand deservedly well known for its affordable watches, offers mechanical field watches with dates in different sizes.
For instance the ref. H70455553 in steel measures 38mm in diameter, 9.5mm in thickness, and 47mm lug-to-lug. Impressively, all these Hamilton Khaki Auto watches feature 80-hour power reserve. But the 38mm Khaki Field Auto also features only 50m water-resistance. It retails for 550 CHF or ~835 AUD.
- Size wise, smaller dial real-estate, but same lug-to-lug as that of the new Formex Field Automatic. Less expensive than the Formex Field but not in titanium.
Next up is the ref. H70305993 in steel that measures 40mm in diameter, is 11mm thick, and features a 49mm lug-to-lug spacing. Same 80-hour power reserve, and improved but still lower than Formex Khaki 100m water-resistance. It retails for 675 CHF or ~1’025 AUD.
- Size wise, similar dial real estate but bigger lug-to-lug compared to the new Formex Field Automatic.
Then there is the ref. H70555533 in steel that measures 42mm in diameter, is ~11.7mm thick, and features 52mm lug-to-lug spacing. Same 80-hour power reserve, and water-resistance. It retails for 550 CHF or ~830 AUD. A newer version of the 42mm diameter ref. H70605163 on a steel bracelet features a slightly different dial and retails for 795 CHF or ~1’200 CHF.
In terms of pricing and dial real-estate, and also the materials, the Hamilton 42mm range comes closet with the ref. H70545550. Same specs as above but this time in titanium. It retails for 950 CHF or ~1’450 AUD.
Now take the measurements of the new Formex Field Automatic retailing for the same 1’450 AUD: 41mm diameter case with 10.6mm thickness (8.8mm perceived) and only 47mm lug-to-lug spacing. It is also comparable in pricing to the Hamilton titanium offering, and perhaps the inclusion of a COSC-certified SW200-1 would have given it a definitive edge that could see more enthusiast converts.
For those with larger wrists sizes, those who prefer their watches to wear big, those looking for more power reserve, or those looking at steel options, any Hamilton Khaki Field Auto is also an amazing option.
- In short, essentially, where Formex strikes most is in presenting a watch with a large dial but shorter overall case, the use of titanium, the incorporation of multiple dial colour options, higher water-resistance and a screw-down crown, very adjustable clasps, and rather different than simply circular watch aesthetics.
It’s big and bold yet diminutive, and if it wears anything like the Formex Essence, those with slimmer wrists — including myself with ~16cm wrists — should rejoice.
This is the mechanical field watch many have been waiting for.
The new Formex Field Automatic also maintains that excellent legibility one expects from field watches, and I appreciate that — even though the movement being outsourced and generic is not specifically designed for the watch case and dial size — the brand has done an intelligent job of integrating the date window with the hour markers.
Add to these the rugged and rather raw appearance of the sandblasted titanium case treatment that adds a bit of military vibes and you get yourself a hell of a timepiece.
And firing on all engines, Formex also provides with a number of different dial colour options too (my favorite being the Mahogany Red). Not only are the colours pleasing, the additional use of stylised recessed numbers/hour markers filled with Old Radium Super LumiNova and a curved chapter ring section all ensure that no matter what lighting conditions, time telling should not be issue. Another detail I love is that the date wheel has been matched to the dial colour.
Adding zing to the simple military-style field watches and ushering in the modern era the age of trench watches with aplomb is the new Formex Field Automatic. Strap it on and be ready for any urban adventure the wild city life may throw at you.
To find out more about the new Formex Field Automatic and otherFormex watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy are Copyright 2022 © FORMEX Watch SA, all rights reserved.