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Formex Essence

Formex Essence

Manufacturer: Formex | Price: from £710 GBP ($945 USD, €849 EUR approx)

I’ve had my eye on the Formex Essence for quite some time after seeing the initial pics that Formex released quite a few months ago. I reached out to them, probably too early as I think the Essence was still in the design and prototype stage. Anyway, the Essence finally arrived at the tail end of Novemeber and it has got quite a lot of wrist time in the last couple of weeks. *Spolier Alert* It’s a fantastic watch with quite a few unique features, but is it perfect? Let’s find out shall we…

Specifications

  • Dimensions: Case Diameter – 42.6mm, Thickness – 10.4mm, Lug to Lug – 49.2mm, Lug Width – 22mm
  • Movement: Swiss ETA 2824-2 (Elaboré), 28,800vph (4Hz), Hackable, Self Winding, 38hr Power Reserve
  • Case Material: Brushed 316L Stainless Steel with Polished Accents
  • Bracelet: 316L Stainless Steel, Solid End Links, Screw Pins, Signed Butterfly Clasp  
  • Crystal: Flat Sapphire, Underside & Outer AR Coating
  • Bezel: Fixed, Brushed (Top), Polished (Side)
  • Water Resistance: 100m / 10ATM / 330ft
  • Lume: Swiss Super Luminova® BGW9
  • Caseback: Screw Down, Exhibition Display
  • Warranty: 3 Years     Where to Buy: Formex
  • Options: Automatic, Chronometer | Dial Colour – Black, Blue, Brown, Silver
  • Strap Options: Black Leather, Blue Leather, Brown Leather, Black Rubber, Stainless Steel Bracelet
  • Formex Essence Leggera: Dial Options – Forged Carbon, Cool Grey, Electric Blue (Available to Preorder)

Formex - The Company

"Formex Swiss Watches, established in 1999, is an independent family-owned watch manufacturer based in Biel/Bienne - known as the cradle of Swiss watchmaking. With our roots in high-end watch manufacturing, we develop and produce watches that meet the highest quality standards in the industry, and equip them with unique engineered features to add more functionality and comfort. Through an innovative distribution model, Formex offers an affordable luxury watchmaking experience for those who appreciate fine timepieces and exceptional craftsmanship. The Formex history goes back 20 years when two Swiss brothers, both watchmakers and enthusiasts alike, wanted to combine their passion for watches with their love for motorsports. "Formex = forme extrème, French for ‘extreme shape’". Inspired by the engineering and mechanics of high performance racing cars and bikes, the two brothers developed the brand’s signature patented Case Suspension System. This cushion-like system protects the watch’s movement and considerably adds to the comfort on the wrist, while giving every Formex a very distinctive, robust and sporty look."
Raphael Granito
Raphael Granito
CEO, Formex

Case & Crown

The case of the Essence has a diameter of 42.6mm. The lug to lug is 49.2mm and the overall thickness, including the sapphire crystal, I measured in at a very svelte 10.4mm. The entire case, caseback, bezel, crown and bracelet are all 316L stainless steel. The finish of the watch is mostly brushed with a rather slim polished edge that runs along the side of the case and down over the edge of the lugs. An excellent detail that gives the watch that extra little premium touch.

The Essence has a water resistance rating of 100m, which is perfectly acceptable for a dressy style sports watch. The proportions of the watch, in my opinion, are great for my 7″ wrist, even if I thought it would initially be a little big at a claimed diameter of 43mm. However, due to the other dimensions of the watch it actually wears smaller than the size would suggest. Although I would state that the lug to lug is pretty much at the maximum size for my personal taste.

The Formex Essence case suspension system is something I’ve never actually seen before. Is it a bit of a gimmick? Yes & No! I find the suspension system is something I could personally do without as I wear all my watches below the wrist bone. However, if you wear your watch above the wrist bone then the suspension system does actually give the watch that little bit of flex/movement and seems to work really well.

The crown is fantastic, looks good and there is zero wobble when the crown is pulled out to any position. I thought that the crown not being signed was a bit of a weird choice but it’s not exactly a deal breaker. The caseback is very nice with an exhibition glass showing off that Swiss ETA 2824-2 Elaboré grade movement and Formex rotor.

Bracelet & Strap Options

The bracelet that comes fitted to the Essence is one of the most comfortable bracelets I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing! It’s fitted to the watch head perfectly and the tolerances are fantastic. The bracelet itself is 22mm at the lugs, that tapers down to 20mm at the butterfly clasp. There are solid links throughout held together with good quality screw pins and there are zero rough or sharp edges to be found anywhere. The bracelet itself is mostly brushed aside from a polished chamfered edge on each of the links. I generally don’t like butterfly clasps, however the one on this bracelet is fantastic and very secure. Oh yeah, there is also a rather nice and unique microadjust feature integrated into the bracelet to ensure you get the perfect fit. You’ll also find a similar unique approach with the carbon deployment clasp that’s found on the calfskin leather and rubber straps. For me, personally, I’d stump up the extra cash for the bracelet. It’s worth it!

Movement

ETA Logo

The chosen movement for this version of the Essence is the Swiss ETA 2824-2, whilst the chronometer version uses a customised Selitta SW200-1. The 2824-2 here is self-winding, has 25 jewels and the oscillating weight spins up giving a 38 hr power reserve. The balance runs at 28,800vph (4Hz) and the movement is also hackable. Checking the accuracy after running the Essence for 2 weeks, both on wrist as well as in my winder, I was very pleased with the results, with the Formex Essence showing an average of just +4.8 seconds per day, which makes me wonder if stumping up the extra cash for the chronometer version is worth it.

Dial & Bezel

The Essence has a fixed bezel with vertical brushing on the top with a fully polished edge. I think it was a good choice brushing the top of the bezel, meaning it won’t be too easy to scratch. The text on the dial is printed, showing just the word AUTOMATIC with the usual SWISS MADE at either side of the 6 o’clock marker. The Formex logo and the model name is also very neatly printed, done at just under the 12 o’clock position. All in all, a very nice & clean dial.

The black version that I have here, sports a very clean & simple looking dial finished in matte black. Additionally, the hour markers are quite tall but rather slim giving the Essence that dress watch aesthetic. The hour and minute hands are done in silver, as is the seconds hand that reaches out all the way to the minute track. If you read my reviews regularly, then I think you know what is coming next… why didn’t Formex colour match the date wheel? It would have looked so much better, especially on this black dial version. Atleast Formex put the date wheel at my preferred position of 6 o’clock.

Lume

The lume on the Essence I can only describe as adequate, but I suppose that is inline with the desired dressy sports watch design. Atleast the lume has been evenly applied and looks very uniform as you can see in the lume shot below. The lume chosen by Formex is Swiss Super Luminova® BGW9 so I was expecting it to be a bit brighter, but then again, this isn’t a 300m dive watch where you’d expect a shed ton of lume. Maybe I’ve been spoilt lately with the amount of divers I’ve seen.

Conclusion

I’ve had the Formex Essence here for a good couple of weeks and to be honest, it’s had a fair amount of wrist time which speaks volumes to just how much I like this watch. It is a fantastic sports watch, although if I had to change anything apart from colour matching the date wheel, is I’d make it in a slightly smaller size of maybe around 39-40mm, which I think would appeal to a larger customer base as well as a much larger range of potential wrist sizes. As previously mentioned in the review, the Essence is pretty much at the maximum size watch that I’d comfortably wear. I’m sure others would agree with me when I say, fine fair enough if this was a diver, but as a dressy sports watch I generally like them just a little bit smaller.

FormexAn absolutely excellent quality sports watch that anyone would be proud to have on their wrist. Great job!

Design
9/10
Quality
9.5/10
Value
7.5/10
TOTAL
8.5/10
8.5/10 - RECOMMENDED! (For those with a wrist size of 7" and above)
A massive thank you to Markus at Formex for sending the Essence out for review.
 
To view the Formex website, or join their mailing list to be informed of new models etc, visit Formex.
 
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