Monochrome Watches
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Value Proposition

Formex Essence Leggera, a Complete COSC-Certified Carbon Watch for Less than 2K

Yes, you read right: chronometer certified and carbon case!

| By Gandor Bronkhorst | 3 min read |

You might not be very familiar with the brand Formex, but it’s been around for two decades now. Most of its creations are big, bold and sturdy, and some of its recent watches, with updated designs and more understated choices, turned out to be quite good-looking. Like this Formex Essence Leggera, which offers a very complete package for a decent price. Let’s have a closer look.

Formex was founded in the late 1990s, and its name is a combination of the words ‘Forme Extrême’ (“extreme shape” in French). That already gives away the goal: to manufacture rugged action watches. But Formex has shifted its business in recent years. In 2017, the company moved from the traditional business model to direct-to-consumer distribution. And about a year ago, it appeared again on our radar with its Kickstarter campaign for the Essence Automatic Chronometer, a truly interesting watch that showed that Formex was moving into a more modern, but also more restrained, design direction. The Essence is still big and sturdy but has a more understated, cooler design.

Formex Essence Leggera - Chronometer Certified Carbon Watch Value Proposition

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Carbon case, COSC movement, multiple patented systems (buckle and suspension device)… For less than EUR 2K.

The new Formex Essence Leggera is an updated version of that relatively successful piece. And this new name already shows what to expect: a lightweight version. Its main addition is the usage of carbon composite for the case, which was produced in-house. Thanks to this material, this new version wears very comfortably on the wrist. The use of carbon sheds about 40% of the weight of the watch while improving its scratch resistance. The case weighs only 50 grams. The bezel also got a similar upgrade and is now made of Zirconium oxide ceramic, which is five times harder than steel. The case is water-resistant to 100 metres.

Like all watches from Formex, this watch is also equipped with the patented Case Suspension system, which was inspired by the shock-absorbing systems of high-performance cars and bikes, and was designed to provide protection and better comfort. This system basically provides the case with a suspension on the four edges of the case so it adapts to the wearer and can absorb big shocks. The glass is made from anti-reflective sapphire crystal.

Formex Essence Leggera - Chronometer Certified Carbon Watch Value Proposition

Formex made an interesting choice of movement: instead of the better-known Sellita SW 200-1 found in previous watches, or even an ETA-2824, the choice was for the STP 1-11. This movement is also a 2824-clone but made by a relatively new company in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. To prove its accuracy, the movement was sent to COSC for chronometer certification. It has a Glucydur balance wheel and 44 hours of power reserve. It also has a date window at six o’clock. The movement can be seen through the caseback, which is always a nice touch.

Formex Essence Leggera - Chronometer Certified Carbon Watch Value Proposition

The Formex Essence Leggera comes in three different versions: black, blue and grey. The black version has a black carbon forged dial. The electric blue one has a sunburst gradient dial. All three versions offer three different straps. The standard choice is made of nylon, which gives a NATO-strap-like appearance. The other choices are Italian calf leather and rubber. All straps come with curved spring bars, a carbon fibre composite folding clasp with a patented micro-adjustment system. All watches come with a quick-release system, which means that straps can be changed without the use of tools. 

Formex Essence Leggera - Chronometer Certified Carbon Watch Value Proposition

Formex Essence Leggera - Chronometer Certified Carbon Watch Value Proposition

All in all, this is a very complete and robust watch that wears surprisingly well. Formex once again shows that a reliable, accurate, comfortable and sturdy watch doesn’t have to break the bank. Obviously, the COSC certification does imply a small markup in the price, but it also guarantees the accuracy of the watch. If you are looking for a masculine watch that will survive your active lifestyle, especially at this price point, then the Formex Essence Leggera is definitely a watch worth considering. The price for the model with the carbon dial is EUR 1,880 and the other two are EUR 1,680. The watch is available for pre-order now and delivery will start in 2020. 

More details on the brand’s website,

11 responses

  1. Not sure about the dial,love the case and crown.Cosc, you bet,love that too. The price is not scary so that is also a plus.Need to find a dealer to try one on, most buyers can only “pull off” plus 40mm on a tool watch , so maybe this will work, 16cm wrist and currently wearing my skx 42mm. So, maybe.

  2. The rubber strap looks so much like the one I found on ebay for $8 from china ,also quick release,not a slam, love the strap ,compliments my skx no end.Just not going to pay anything for that part of it, would they give you $100 going no strap ? Wonder about that (I mean on top of the 30% discount I would expect on brand like this ,now we would be talking sub $1500 otd . Now to a industry point, why can’t they in house certify the regulation plus/minus X and just leave it at that ? Save another couple of hundred, this is the type of thing that can democratize swiss watches going forward instead of becoming more and more Veblen goods. They want to reach a wider audiance, younger , make Swiss watches more relevant ? That’s how you do it, at least in part.
    Call Swiss confused watch producers ,we can make this happen ! (:

  3. This forum needs a edit feature so at least you can fix typos , my opinion.

  4. If you can’t afford it Ray, there are loads of cheaper watches.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t grab me. Looking through the Smiths website, I see this and that model which excites me. This doesn’t. No idea why.

  5. No Ray, I mean pieces like the Smith’s Everest watch. The PRS-25 and the military PRS-29. They are well-priced, have proper specs and they have a charm about them which I find more appealing than this, admittedly respectable, technically-superior modern watch.

  6. Thanks guy,I checked it out and yes the price is fair and, it is just a simple watch, I like those too. I just think this has more zing. It is bit too big for my 16cm wrist tho. Would have to try it on and see if zing can over come the bad marriage of sizes ! lol
    Are you British by chance ?

  7. I’m Scottish. Don’t really think of myself as “British”.
    I have a 19cm wrist and also prefer a smaller watch, although of late 41mm has begun to seem perfect. As we all know, it all depends on the individual watch. Perhaps the Formex could send you photographs of the watch on a 16cm wrist? Just tell them not to use a smartphone. 24/28mm lenses make the watch seem larger if taken from a close distance.

  8. I have to say it’s a descent looking watch but I feel the Everest is better.

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