Hands-on – Biotic Formicidae

During the last few days I had the chance to spend some time with the new BIOTIC Formicidae which is currently on Kickstarter.

I’ll be totally honest, at first I didn’t understand why Ryan Lee (Founder of the brand) had chosen a name like this one. In France, we know the Biotic Phocea laboratories, which is known as the reference on the French market for pigments for medical dermo-pigmentation and permanent make-up.

Suffice to say it has nothing to do with it… Biotic means “pertaining to life”. A biotic factor is any living thing that has an effect on an ecosystem.

Biotic Watches has been co-founded by Stitches & Buckles in 2021, and is based in Singapore.

There vision : Biotic Watches aims to study Nature and bring the beauty and wonder of Nature into the design and function of bespoke watch pieces.

Ok for the name of the brand… Now the name of the model : « Formicidae » ? From where a name like this is from ? First of all, I wondered why they had chosen such a complicated name…

Then I understood. The founder loves ants. Alright, why not. But how do you translate this into the design of a watch ? Well that’s what we’re going to see right now.

biotic-formicidae

The Case

First thing to notice in the whole design, and you have to keep in mind that the is inspired by ants, the lugs are the mandibles and the crowns are like the eyes.

The 39mm stainless steel case is really well sculpted. I like how they cutout the lugs and more than this, that the fact that they are plunging gives the piece a kind of universality that allows all types of wrists to wear the watch.

Also, in terms of finishes they used both the vertical and sandblast techniques to showcase the contours of the Ant’s body. I really like the attention to detail…

biotic-formicidae

They go one step further with the screw down crowns. They are big and thanks to the grip, extremely easy to use.

But here again there are some subtleties.

First of all they are not round but octagonal. Then, each crown has a different engraved element. At 3 o’clock, the crown with which you set the time, has the logo of the brand. While at 9 o’clock, the crown that you will use for the compass, has a star.

Quite honestly, we often see very simple crowns without any engravings, so I must say that they do well on this point.

biotic-formicidae-crown

Concerning the back of the watch there are 2 options. The first, and the one I have here in review, there is “The adventurer”. A little ant, straight out of a cartoon, which takes its shovel to dig and seeks its way on a map… Frankly, I easily imagine the scenario of a small movie which would highlight this ant.

This little work of art is printed on a plastic and just above you have a sapphire crystal. It’s clever although I would have preferred the colors to be a little lighter in order to better see all the details of this adventurous little ant.

The second option is a full display caseback thanks to which you can see the movement.

Well, no more to say about this, and I really prefer the option 1.

biotic-formicidae-artwork

The Movement

Before presenting the movement to you, you should know that option 1 and 2 are at the same price. In one case, of course, we don’t see the movement very well, but instead you have an artwork with the future star of Pixar, and in the other case the view on the movement which is completely devoid of finishes. Make your choice but mine is made 😉

Powered by the Miyota 9015 automatic movement which beats at 28,800bph (4Hz), the Biotic Formicidae offers a 42 hours of power reserve. Hacking and hand winding functions enables one to synchronize the time with extreme precision. A quickset date complication keeps it practical for everyday wear. 

Miyota-9015

For the record… Citizen Watch, sure you know this name? Indeed, today the two giants of Japanese watchmaking are Seiko and Citizen Watch Miyota.

It was in 1959 that the Citizen Watch factory moved to the city of Miyota in Japan and it was 20 years later that sales operations began, with in particular the introduction of the caliber 2035, its iconic model.

Subsequently, different models arrived, and it was finally in 2009 that the Miyota 9015 automatic movement, a revolutionary development of the caliber 8215, was introduced on the market.

This movement is used by tons of watches brands like Laco, Dufa, Zeppelin or Beaubleu.

The Dial

Here is, in my opinion, one of the main attraction of this Formicidae watch.

Directly below the sapphire crystal glass we find the inner bezel which serves as a compass. So even if it’s something we don’t use often, I find it interesting to have used this “complication” because it fits well with the life of the ant which works like an outstanding navigator.

How it works ?

Let me try to explain. First imagine you are in the northern hemisphere. Point the hour hands towards the sun, holding the watch horizontaly to the Earth. The point between the hour hand and 12 o’clock is the South. So you can then turn the compass bezel to indicate where the South is.

Now if you’re in Southern hemisphere, it’s exactly the same to do, but this time the point between the hour hand and 12 o’clock is the North. And so, just turn the compass bezel to indicate where the North is.

If you like hiking this is a really interesting feature but keep in mind that these determinations are approximate as there is some discrepancy at different latitudes and in different seasons.

Just below this bezel is the hours and minutes track. The hour indices literally fit into the center of the dial which is shaped like an inverted pie pan.

This central dial is very interesting because it gives a real 3D impression to the watch, as if you could dive into it.

biotic-formicidae-close-up

In terms of color, I tested the green one, but I think all the other combinations will give you the same feeling. In addition, this dial is smoked, we start from green in the center to go to a much darker color at the ends. Personally I love it, because it gives a real depth effect.

To finish, the date window is positioned at 6 o’clock and Swiss Superluminova (C3+BGW9) is used for the hands, indexes, minutes track and even on the compass bezel.

Strap

All Biotic Formicidae come with a solid stainless steel H-link bracelet with quick release springbar, and folding clasp with the name of the brand engraved on it. The whole with brushed and polished finishes.

Well, I don’t really like steel bracelets and I much prefer leather or all other kinds of bracelets. During the kickstarter campaign you have the possibility to add to your cart a brown or black calf leather strap.

biotic-stainless-steel-bracelet

And even more interesting, you can add an Eco Friendly Coconut Straps. They have built a collaboration with Singapore-based bespoke strap maker YI LEATHER, and this Coconut strap comes in 3 sizes and 4 unique colors (Madder Red, Dark Indigo, Light Indigo and Khaki Green).

I’ve never tried this kind of straps, and since I love changing them on my watches, I absolutely have to test them. In the photos of this review I used straps from Strapbandits and a FKM rubber strap from Feynman Timekeepers.

yi-leather-coconut-strap

The watch comes with a Waxed Canvas Watch Roll which is really well made. It looks a bit military, but let’s admit that this kind of pouch is really practical when you go on a trip.

After Thoughts

I don’t know if I forgot to mention something in this review, but in any case I must say that I am quite amazed by this piece.

The first time I saw it in a photo I thought “oh shit you need a big wrist for this watch”. And in fact no… The design is really well executed, and even if on the production watches there will be some changes, this prototype made a very good impression on me.

I love the dial and even the overall design of the piece.

biotic-formicidae-and-his-pouch

You can pre-order the watch on their kickstarter campaign at the price of $399 USD (around 378 € / This is at the currency rate of mid-june 2022).

Specification

Case

Diameter: 39mm

Lug to Lug: 47mm

Thickness: 12mm

Lug width: 20mm

Water Resistance: 20ATM/200M/660Feet

Crowns: Dual Screw down crowns with Logo Engraved

Material: 316L Stainless Steel

Crystal

Flat Sapphire crystal with inside AR-coating

Movement

Calibre: Miyota 9015 (24 Jewels)

Bracelet (Included)

Material: 316L Stainless steel

Spring bars: Double sided quick-release

Finishing: Brushed with chamfered and polished edge

Width: 20mm

Taper: 20/18mm

No more to add… you can follow Biotic Watches on their social networks profile :

Instagram

If you’re interested to buy one of them just click HERE.

biotic-formicidae-wristshot

Jonathan Kopp

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