What if you went against your love for watchmaking by creating rather than copying what you like? Would you do it?
The blank page syndrome, which I am experiencing while writing these words, is the natural reaction of a creativity that wants to express itself but is afraid that its creation will disappoint it.
Our love for watchmaking, as varied as it is, was triggered by watches, encounters. We know what we like and this comfort zone is reflected in our collection. And yet, when you are the head of a young brand like Formex, you have to go ahead and create.
You are aware that you’re writing the history of the brand. The same history that immobilizes many when it is more than a century old. Your infinite archives do not allow you to resurrect an old model from a more creative period. You seize your courage and decide to leave this immobility by seizing this opportunity to create.
This is what made us decide to leave Geneva for Bienne and find Formex.
Sitting comfortably in the car, the kilometers go by and the rain starts to fall. As it hits the windshield, it gives off a melody that drowns out the surrounding noises and helps me escape into my thoughts.
Today we have to be efficient because Raphaël has another appointment and the two designers are overloaded with work at this time. My desire to understand more and more about this brand, which is close to my heart, led me to suggest that we talk about design. I am fascinated by this discipline.
We all have ideas that pass through our heads but some people manage to give them a body, a form. What guides their gestures? What are the rules they give themselves and follow so this body, this form seduces our love for watchmaking?
I’ve worn Formex’s and even have one on my wrist for this trip. When I look at it, I admire its curves and I dive into its dial, but I know deep down that something is missing.
The eye is sharpened, the taste is worked on and the taste buds are educated. It is for these reasons that I need to return to see Formex. My education is not yet complete to finally fully appreciate their products.
The smile on my face, the excitement in my mind and the car that ends up in the parking lot: soon my passion for watchmaking will grow. As I open the office door, the sweet smell of hot coffee surrounds me and accentuates my joy. In addition to having a delicious coffee, the welcoming is always so warm. The faces are familiar and you feel like home.
As we sit around the table, the stress starts to get me. I know I won’t be able to remember everything, which is why I always record. But will I be able to grasp what they will say? Will they be able to answer my questions? Will their answers be as clear and precise as I hope?
It’s my turn to leave this immobility and move forward. My thirst for knowledge is stronger than stress.
Everyone is well settled, it’s time to jump into the unknown. The watches on the table have been pushed aside to make room for a number of sketches. Every square inch of the table is soon covered. The origin of the Formex watches is in front of me, let’s dive into it.
How would you define the brand’s DNA? This is the first question that opens the ball. Raphaël answers me: “In a sentence I would say that it is a modern and original design but also a technical one.”
The details are so numerous that I feel I am starting to lose my way. All I hear are words: bevel, bezel, thinness, comfort, crown, etc. I have to react quickly, so I interrupt the designer who’s talking to ask his colleague to take the example of the FIELD, to draw it for me and to indicate the important details.
Reassured, the words become sentences that my brain understands. My learning can resume.
Within the watch industry, there are several major families of watch styles, each with their own codes. Among them, we find the Dress Watch, the Sport Chic and the Military Watch aka the Field. The codes of the latter, in its classic version, are a round case with lugs and good readability.
Formex’s Field, which is part of this family, was inspired by these codes to reinterpret them. “We decided to keep the key elements of a Field watch, but the case had to look like a fighter plane with its matte aspect of titanium and being very angular. You get a military look on the case, but not the usual one.”
Created around the world of motorsports and being the contraction of Forme Extrême, the brand had, for the Field, to work on the slenderness and ergonomic curves of the case.
As the minutes go by, the more details and explanations come in and the more I begin to grasp the expression of the brand’s DNA through design. They don’t have rigid style codes that apply to each of their collections. They do, however, have the same wish that applies to each of their watches.
“We take the risk of creating something a little different. We look at the style codes and reshape it in a Formex way.”
They take a risk! Raphaël and his designers are passionate about watchmaking and for each of their creations they decide to leave their comfort zone. This comfort zone was created by their passion for watchmaking.
Now when I look at my Formex, I’ll see these designers chatting, refining their mood boards to reinterpret the style they set for themselves in the right way. All this while working methodically, starting with the case, then moving on to the dial to end with the hands.
In the end, this is what makes Formex’s design. It’s an exercise in style that requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone, but it’s done in a group and in dialogue.
I get out of there, the rain hasn’t stopped. As soon as I sit down, I go back into my thoughts to try to put them in order. During the journey I think aloud with Alix to share with her what I understood.
Few days later, I find myself at my desk with the mission of sharing this moment with you. So leave your immobility and accept that your creative attempts do not match the expectations of your watchmaking passion.
And you, which style would you like to see Formex reinterpret?