Hands On: Spoiled For Choice And Style With The Formex Reef GMT

You’re sitting outside your favorite cafe, coffee in one hand and your phone in the other. As you’re scrolling through and catching up on the timeline, a finely tuned sports car hugs the corner from across the way. You give it a glance as it drives by, but that glance immediately turns into a full-on gaze until the car disappears into the distance. We’ve all been there before. It’s easy to ogle at something that’s distinct and beautifully made. In most cases for a sports car, vintage or modern depending on the model, they don’t look like your average vehicle on the road, so when one does pass by, the natural reaction is to acknowledge and appreciate.

In a way, the Formex Reef GMT elicits that same exact feeling. Its case profile is not the common round shape you see on a regular basis, so naturally it immediately grabs your attention. And once you’re locked in, it’s the meticulous details and innovative design touches that’ll keep you there. The foundation of Formex’s design is inspired by Raphael Granito’s (CEO & Co-founder) enthusiasm for motorsports and high performance racing cars. His passion for both watchmaking and automotive engineering are clearly apparent throughout the entire collection and more specifically with the Formex Reef GMT.


The name Formex is actually derived from the two French words, forme extréme, which translates to “extreme shape”. Now I wouldn’t call the shape of the Formex Reef GMT “extreme”, but it is most certainly distinguishable when you compare it against your run of the mill wrist watch. The case design is a continuous dance between its sharp edges and soft curves. The top and bottom of the case angle around the bezel and slope downwards towards a set of flat-tipped lugs. The sides however, bow outwards, giving the case its distinct wide-body silhouette.

On paper, the Formex Reef GMT isn’t a small watch. From its shortest distance, the case comes in at a shade over 42mm. The longest distance, starting from the one protruded case side at nine o’clock to the tip of the crown, measures 48mm. Lug to lug is a manageable 47mm and the dial width is 29mm, which seems to be the standard since I’ve started keeping track of the measurement. On wrist however, these larger specs are irrelevant. The multiple facets that angle down and away from the bezel give the appearance of a slimmer case. And surprisingly from top to bottom, the Reef GMT is only 11.5mm thick. Akin to a high performance sports car, the Reef GMT case build is sleek, aerodynamic, and sits very low on the wrist while balancing out its broader case profile.

Its angular case and fine brushed finish has this unique ability to catch all sorts of lighting. Combined with a steel bezel with a similar finish, the Reef GMT has this dynamic look to it as light bounces off the different surfaces of the case. As it’s designed, the bezel turns more efficiently when gripping at twelve and six o’clock. The bezel is more accessible at these touch points as opposed to the rest of the bezel which gets shrouded by the wide case.

This is where it gets fun. If you’re in the mood to change up the look of the bezel, Formex makes it seamless to do so without the need for a tool. Right beneath those touch points at twelve and six o’clock that I mentioned above are where you can access and remove the bezel. There are five other interchangeable 24-hour bezel options available that are fashioned out of Zirconium oxide ceramic. If tracking a third time zone via the bezel doesn’t appeal to you, then it’s worth noting that you can also throw on a Reef dive bezel. Yup, that’s right, a Reef Dive-GMT (hold for applause). Not only does the laser engraved bezel completely change the look, it totally adds a different function to the watch. The type of engineering used here is quite interesting. On the underside of each bezel are a set of grooves that work in tandem with a piston ratcheting system. So when the 24-hour bezel is secured into place, it makes its full revolution bidirectionally in 48 clicks. And when the count-up Reef diver bezel is attached, it changes to a 120-click bezel and accurately tracks elapsed time.

The Reef GMT dial is detailed and well thought out. The sunburst gray dial on this particular model is subtle. It’s almost black in low lighting and a faint charcoal gray in direct sunlight. The applied markers resemble the angular nature of the case. They each have beveled sides and a brushed finish that catches light in similar fashion as the case and bezel. An additional 24-hour ring is displayed around the center of the dial which comes in handy if you elect to use a dive bezel. The date window positioned at six o’clock is framed uniquely by a portion of the dial that angles downwards on each side. Other subtle dial design choices that I appreciate here are the red tipped arrow on the GMT hand and the expanded “REEF” text that aligns with the “Formex” and “Chronometer” text.

The type of movement, customizable options, and Formex’s ingenuity with their straps and bracelets are where things really start to stack up for the Formex Reef GMT. Powered by the COSC-certified Sellita SW330-2, accuracy is ensured to be within -4/+6 seconds daily. Formex offers up a plethora of options, including 6 different bezels and dials, as well as 7 different straps, to build the Reef GMT that’s tailored for you. If my math serves me correctly, that’s 252 unique combinations you’re able to put together before you hit the complete purchase button.

The textured rubber and mesh strap seen throughout are equipped with a quick-release button that makes changing the strap out a cinch. The rubber strap uses a folding mechanism made out of a lightweight carbon fiber composite and is secured by a stainless steel clasp. Built into the carbon fiber portion of the clasp is a nifty ratchet quick-adjust that fine-tunes the strap across 7 different positions. Formex prides itself on not using big marketing campaigns or investing in big-name brand ambassadors. Instead, they double-down on how they can further innovate their product, and that’s demonstrated through their strap offerings.

The Formex Reef GMT truly feels like a sports car on the wrist. It’s visually stylish and designed so that the watch feels like a bucket seat, but for your wrist. Every detail of the case and dial feels intentional, and there’s no shortage of personality. From its angular case, to its detailed dial design and COSC-certified movement, the Reef GMT has this over-spec nature to it.

The route I’d go here is exactly how Formex had sent the watch to me – a black dial with red accents, a steel 24-hour bezel and the waffle rubber strap. I’d also throw in a steel dive bezel. I’m partial to a GMT capable watch with a dive bezel, so the ability to have that set up on this particular model really speaks to my taste and also adds to a sparse list of Dive-GMTs out there. Combining all of these features together, the Formex Reef GMT is certainly a lot of watch for the starting price of $1,835. Compared to their peers offering a GMT within the same price range, it certainly feels like you’re getting a “fully-loaded” option here without paying a premium.

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Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.