5′ with Raphaël Granito – CEO of Formex
Getting to know a new watch is something we love, but what if you could discover a bit more about the history of that watch’s brand? Today we’ve spent 5 minutes with Raphaël Granito, CEO and co-owner of Formex Watch SA.
What triggered the creation of your own brand ?
Actually, Formex has been around since 1999. I’ve been working in the watch industry for about 10 years before the chance arose to get involved with the brand. Our family business which designs, develops and produces components for many different watch brands, was already working with the previous owner and founder of the brand, Mr. Grädel. I embarked on the adventure to revive and restructure the brand in 2016. At the time I was weighing the options of launching something new or transforming Formex, which in the end I opted for.
What are the most significant difficulties you encountered ?
I don’t think we have time to list all of them here… Joking aside, transforming the business to a B2C distribution is very interesting in terms of margin calculations and value proposition, as a big chunk of margin, meant for distributors and retail partners doesn’t have to be factored in anymore. But obviously, those partners receive their margin for a reason: they actively sell your product and help you gain exposure. In a D2C model, the sales have to be converted almost entirely by the activities the brand undertakes. After four years, I’ve learned a lot, but I would say that there is still a lot to learn.
Competing in an industry where the leaders can spend in a day what you spend in two years on marketing is not an easy task, but we’ve learned to make our proximity to the final customer one of our biggest assets when it comes to selling our watches.
I wouldn’t say creating a really good timepiece is easy, but since I come from a product development and manufacturing background, for me the hardest part is selling. Thankfully we have a great team and we’ve managed to divide the tasks in a way that benefits our individual talents and interests.
Where do you find your inspiration ?
If you’re open to it, I believe you can find inspiration everywhere. The most obvious answer would be: history’s great watch creators. But I think it’s important to get inspired by design that isn’t necessarily found in the watch environment. I happen to find inspiration in cars, architecture, nature, aviation… basically anywhere you find intelligent design or design that meets function.
Our main goal when creating a new model is always to come up with something unique and at the same time, we want to develop our own design language. It’s not easy to create a watch that doesn’t resemble the thousands of designs and hundreds of iconic designs out there. And it’s even harder to create a language that will be recognized down the line, without people having to look at the logo on the dial. But this is one of our goals when we’re developing new models.
How do you see the future of the brand ? Is there any confidential(ish) information you could disclose to us ?
We’ve seen more and more confirmation for a bright looking future in the past months. We had an extremely good start into the year, that got interrupted pretty abruptly by the whole pandemic situation. But I’m confident that we can make up for it, even this year. There are some major announcements and a new product launch which unfortunately I really can’t share about more at this time. But nice try, Brice 🙂
Which advice would you like to give to someone willing to follow your path ?
It’s a path that is not easy but can certainly be very pleasant and interesting if you are passionate enough. It’s very rewarding to create something as intricate as a timepiece that in the end can be successfully sold to the customers. Especially considering the fact that nobody really needs a watch to tell the time nowadays. It’s something the customer wants badly enough to spend his hard-earned money on, even though their phone could easily fulfill the function of telling the time. So, every watch we sell at Formex is a bit of an honor for us and we don’t take it for granted. This is also one of the reasons we’re really enthusiastic about our customer service. If you decide to get a Formex, you’ll automatically become a friend of the brand and will always be treated as such.
In case you’re seriously considering embarking on the adventure of making and selling watches, just be aware that the world is not necessarily waiting for your products and try to offer something that brings the customers a little piece of joy on their wrist.
Anything else you would like to share with AWDO ?
I’d like to thank you for your interest and for the engagement the group members show on a daily basis. It’s refreshing to see so many passionate members with such a diverse range of watches and a willingness to share their fascination for timepieces. I wish everyone to stay healthy and hope you’re all coming out of this challenging period stronger than before.
The review of the Formex Element is available here! Thank you Raphaël!