The Formex Baby Reef is smaller, but just as mighty

The Formex Baby Reef is smaller, but just as mighty

Time+Tide

It’s always a good sign when a watch brand shrinks one of its most popular models so that it can fit smaller wrists. Formex did just that to their successful Reef diver, giving us the Baby Reef we’re looking at today. The new kid on the block has a diameter of 39.5mm, also shrinking in lug-to-lug, so that the Baby Reef is not just a smaller version of the original, but something new entirely. If you’ve heard of Formex before, you know that the brand went through the same procedure when downsizing the Essence, the model with which the brand was reborn a few years back.

The case

formex baby reef white dial case profile

First and foremost, the Formex Reef is a proper dive watch and a true piece of equipment. Dimension-wise, it measures 39.5mm in diameter, 45.5mm lug-to-lug, 11mm thick, and has a 22mm lug width. That is compared to its older sibling which comes with a lug-to-lug of 47mm and a thickness of 11.4mm. Therefore, the Baby Reef is indeed a smaller version of the original yet it was re-proportioned in a way that makes it sit very comfortably on my 6.25”/16cm wrist. I could sport the 42mm Reef, however, I’m glad Formex decided to create a smaller version which I can confidently say will fit many wrists. Despite its smaller dimensions, the Baby Reef boasts the same impressive water resistance of 300 meters.

formex baby reef white dial wrist 2

It feels necessary to get back to the case design for a second to highlight one key future of the Baby Reef: the fact that the case is perfectly symmetrical. Typically, brands do not match the look created by the crown guards found on one side of the case. Formex added what I would describe as being a “shoulder” on the left side of the case that matches the right side. Not only does it look better but it also contributes to making the Baby Reef sit more comfortably on the wrist. Note that the models photographed are prototypes and that the crown, even when screwed down, protrudes out a little bit. This will be fixed in production. Lastly, Formex also patented its removable bezels where one has to simply pull on the bezel to snap it out of the case to replace it with one of a different color.

The dial

formex baby reef green dial close up

Moving onto the dial of the Baby Reef we find the same design language used on its bigger brother – a stubby hour hand and long minute hand, a seconds hand that comes with a lollipop element at its tip, all of this blending harmoniously with the triangular applied hour markers. Doubled at the 12 o’clock, the markers, just like the hands, are multifaceted and showcase an alternation of brushed and polished surfaces. The latter makes it easier to see the hands at different angles, making the dial therefore very legible. The 120-click bezel, for its part, is made of scratch-resistant zirconium oxide ceramic and has a relief construction, a full graduation between 0 and 15 minutes, and a lumed pip at the 12.

formex baby reef white dial lume

Aiding in making it a capable tool watch is the superb application of SuperLuminova BGW9 on the hands and hour markers, as well as the flat piece of sapphire crystal which comes with several layers of anti-reflective coating. So what we have here so far is this: a solid diver, well-made, with a reliable movement that is easy to service.

The bracelet/strap

formex baby reef bracelet clasp wrist

Formex patented its own tool-less micro-adjust clasp which is one of the best-engineered of this type I’ve seen thus far. A small and simple button controls the adjustment of the length of the bracelet up to 10mm, while straps come with a carbon-fibre clasp complete with a built-in fine adjustment system of 7mm.

formex baby reef bracelet clasp adjustment system

Furthermore, Formex also patented its own quick-release system where, once again, one has to simply push a little button to attach or detach the bracelet or strap from the case. It is ridiculously easy and genius. This confers the Baby Reef with a versatile nature as one can swap between a bracelet and a strap in a matter of seconds.

The movement

Inside the new Formex beats the COSC-certified Sellita SW300-1 calibre which has a beat rate of 28,800vph (4Hz) and 56 hours of power reserve. This movement is solid and, being a clone of the ever so popular and ultra widespread ETA 2892, means it can easily be serviced by any decent watchmaker – a plus in my book, especially when you are diving in exotic locations.

The verdict

formex baby reef white dial wrist

Watches are, for many of us, more than just specs. One has to like the way a watch looks in order to be tempted to pull the trigger. I won’t lie, I’m a big fan of Formex (as you might have noticed), and the Reef is my type of diver. And it is so for one simple reason – its design is 100% unique and original. There is nothing on the market that looks like the Reef and to me that’s an enormous plus. Furthermore, I would say that the star of the show here is the case design that comes with superb angles, a flat profile, which occupies a minimum footprint on the wrist given its short and stubby lugs that turn down. The angular case design can also be found on the stainless steel bracelet where the multi-faceted links flow seamlessly within the case. While the Baby Reef looks like its older and larger sibling, I would argue that it is a whole different watch given its smaller dimensions which contribute to creating a different wearing experience. At least, that’s how it came across to me having tried both versions of this diver.

Formex Baby Reef pricing and availability

formex baby reef green dial wrist

The Formex Baby Reef will be available for direct purchase on Formex’s website starting December 7, 2023. It will be available on either a bracelet, rubber strap, or a NATO-style strap (for a total of seven options) and one can choose between four dial and bezel colors. Price: starting from US$1,670

Brand Formex
Model Baby Reef
Case Dimensions 39.9mm (D) x 11mm (T) x 45.5mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 300 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Green, blue, grey, white
Lug Width 22mm
Strap Stainless steel bracelet, rubber, leather or nylon
Movement Sellita SW300-1 COSC, automatic
Power Reserve 56 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price Starting from US$1,650