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Taking off with the Formex Pilot

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In our last Formex review we were looking at the Formex Essence, which took the established Formex design DNA and slimmed things down, while still keeping the case suspension system. Today, we’re going to have a hands-on look at something that more in line with what you’re familiar with from the company, in the form of the Formex Pilot.

If you read my review of the Formex Essence – and paid attention to the photos, particularly of the case – you’ll see how that case design definitely looks like it’s bigger brother, the Formex Pilot. While the Formex Essence was a watch that I called a “dress watch that had hit the weights”, the Formex Pilot is one that’s been power lifting since it was old enough to get into the gym. Visually, this is just a large watch. Yes, at 46.5mm (and 14mm thick) it’s big, but the case shape and fasteners just make it look larger than you’d expect. Some of the details in the design are bolder as well, just enhancing the effect.

Suffice to say, the Formex Pilot is a watch that will have a lot of presence on your wrist. Some of the size is of course due to a design decision, but some of it is due to the inclusion of the case suspension system. It’s most visible from the sides, where the columns housing the springs are exposed, and set off in a high polish against the matte black and carbon fiber pattern on the inner case sides. Now, for all of it’s size, Formex wisely made the lugs angle down sharply, into which they’ve fitted a 7-link bracelet that drapes down and curves around your wrist quite comfortably.

There is much writ large on the dial of the Formex Pilot as well. First and foremost, you’ve got the big Flinger-Style hands that are set over the carbon fiber dial, and definitely reinforce the idea of a pilot’s watch along with the dotted triangle up at 12 o’clock. Past that, however, the watch takes off in more of an automotive direction. While carbon fiber (CF) is something that can be used in aerospace applications, it’s something more associated with cars. Add in the “Formex Speed” verbiage above the day/date display, and the checkered flag on the exhibition caseback, and the racing vibes are established. Though, be it cars or planes, both can go fast, and the chapter ring is ready to help you try and figure out how fast you’re going.

If you’re timing something longer range than mile time (and speed), the Formex Pilot has an ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph movement with the attendant – and expected – subdials. Chrono seconds are of course on the central pinion, minutes recorded on the upper subdial, and then hours on the lower subdial. That leaves the one over at 9 o’clock, which gives you the main time running seconds (and just a visual cue that your watch is running). Then again, with that venerable movement ticking away (and visible through the caseback) you shouldn’t have any worries that it’ll work and keep you on time.

Compared with the Formex Essence that I reviewed prior, the $1,585 Formex Pilot takes things in a decided bolder, and themed, design direction. The mashup of planes and automobiles (but no trains) works surprisingly well in the various influences, and no doubt will please many gear heads. Yes, it’s in entry-level luxury range, so perhaps not what you’d be wrenching with, but it’ll be ready to accompany you when you head down Main Street for the summertime cruise nights. formexwatch.com

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Formex Pilot Chronograph (Ref 1100.9.8199.110)
  • Price: $1,585
  • Who’s it for? Whether it’s in a car or in the air, you like going fast, and want to figure out for yourself how fast fast is, exactly
  • Would I wear it? Again, chronographs aren’t my thing. Combine that with the overall size of the watch, and this is just not a watch that fits my current tastes.
  • What I’d change: Play with the day/date discs, perhaps to bring in some more of the red accents that the watch features
  • The best thing about it: Of all the various bits, the bracelet is what I really liked off of this piece

Tech Specs from Formex

  • Movement: ETA Valjoux 7750 (13¼”’) Automatic, Chronograph with weekday and date display
  • Case
    • Diameter: 46.5mm
    • Material: Stainless Steel / Titanium
    • Height: 14mm
    • Specials: Patented case suspension
    • Waterproofness: 10ATM (100 m)
  • Dial/Glass
    • Carbon-fiber
    • Top and bottom sapphire crystal anti-reflective and hard-coated
  • Bracelet: Stainless Steel, Titanium, Black
  • Reference number: 1100.9.8199.110
  • Limited edition: 999 pcs.

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