From the first time I handled the pre-production prototype of the Formex Essence, I knew that it was a special watch. As the most elegant incorporation of Formex’s proprietary case suspension system, it offered the most affordable chronometer rated movement on the market. However, this Swiss brand, fascinated with innovation for a better tool watch, has done it again with the Essence LEGGERA.
“…the LEGGERA turns its understatedly technical approach on its head.”
Conceived as a ‘big brother’ to the standard Essence, the LEGGERA turns its understatedly technical approach on its head. Where the standard watch uses its elegant case to conceal its true abilities, the LEGGERA uses them to enhance its pursuit of light weight. The dimensions of this watch remain the same at 43mm in diameter and the only 10mm in thickness whilst water resistance is also unaffected at 100m.
The Remarkable Case
“This is no coating…”
This is largely where the similarities end; as is immediately apparent from the photos, almost nothing has been carried over. The case retains its sculptural shape but gains crownguards to survive an even greater battering. The most obvious change is that of colour: from silver to black. This is no coating, though, as Formex has used two ultra-modern materials to suit each component.
Firstly, we have the bezel and the crown. As the portions of the watch liable to suffering the most punishment, Formex have used zirconia (zirconium dioxide). This black ceramic bezel is able to offer extremely sharp finishing which will not wear over time due to its impressive hardness — up to 5 times that of steel. Contrasting the glassy hardness of zirconia, the case has a soft, mottled appearance from its injected carbon fibre composite construction. Whilst not as phenomenally hard as zirconia, this material has an extremely high strength-to-weight ratio thus allowing the case to weigh 40% less than steel. The result is a watch case weighing a scarcely-believable 50g. It should also be noted that the deployant clasp for these watches is also carbon fibre to further exploit its brilliant properties.
Three dial options are available: two are conventional metal dials, and the third is really rather different. The conventional dials are available in a rich sunburst blue, or muted matte grey. Of the two, I love the utterly utilitarian nature of the grey in conjunction with the case. The third option provides, for a price, a unique forged carbon dial to match the general theme of the watch. I can only assume that this reduces the weight even further. The luminescent hands and markers remain largely the same design as the standard Essence with the date at 6 o’clock — a wise choice considering their looks. The only significant change is black colouration on the grey version’s hands to increase visual contrast.
“…a superb choice…”See Also
Mechanically, we have a half-new movement for Formex: The STP1-11 produced by the Fossil Group. This movement is based upon the ETA 2824-2 architecture which we all know. However, it is perhaps the most advanced version of this design if one compares it to the original and the Sellita SW200-1 as is used in other Essence models. The STP movement is chronometer-grade as standard and has been COSC-certified for this watch. The power reserve is also increased from 38 to 44 hours whilst the 4Hz beat rate is retained. In addition to 26 jewels, it is well decorated with thermally blued screws and a bespoke skeletonised rotor. All in all, it is a superb choice for this watch.
The price for this watch will be £1,650 for the standard dials and £1,850 for the forged carbon dial. This places them a rung further up than the standard chronometer Essence which is priced from £1,095. In the current market, these are prices which compared very favourably with brands such as Monta and also larger Swiss competitors. All things considered, I think that I speak for many a watch lover when I say that this may be a very serious milestone for Formex and one to keep a very close eye on.
Pricing: Forged Carbon Dial: £1,850 / Electric Blue & Cool Grey Dials: £1,650
- Dimensions: 43mm x 10mm
- Material: Zirconia ceramic crown and bezel / Carbon fibre case / Titanium movement holder
- Weight: 50g (case only)
- Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment
- Dial: Applied markers and date at 6 o’clock. Available in Cool Grey, Electric Blue or Forged Carbon
- Watch Resistance: 10 ATM / 100m
- Movement: STP 1-11: Automatic / COSC chronometer tested & rated / date & time / 26 jewels / 44-hour power reserve / 4Hz, 28,800 vph, or 8 tick-per-second beat rate / fully decorated & given thermally blued screws & a bespoke skeletonised rotor
For further information, head over to the Formex website.