While half of the watch industry is focusing on steel some other brands are focusing on different materials and finishing, to me this is what I would like to see in the next few years but again creating an entirely value proposition with different elements would require new machinery and processes, this will of course raise prices on the final product, here is the main reason why we see brands like Richard Mile or Ulysses Nardin at that high price bracket, these are houses that experiment all the time and although the quality is one of the best out there, the pieces are almost unreachable. Thankfully there is hope for us, here is where the Formex Essence Leggera comes to play, yes is it doesn’t have an in-house movement architecture like the other, but the materials, the finish product and specs are way above the price that the watch it's being offered. If we think about modern materials like forged carbon or titanium, the aim is to produce a very light case and extremely hard, to put things in
perspective the Richard Mile RM 27-03 which Rafael Nadal its only 34 grams versus the 50 grams that the Essence Leggera weights, yes the materials are different and one has a Tourbillon inside, but the result in both of them is lightness and hardness. We met Formex at an event last year here in the UK, the Switzerland based manufacturer had a very refreshing approach to watchmaking and we couldn’t be more excited to try on one of their pieces.
We could be here all day if I listed all the technical details that the Leggera has so I will try to not get carried away, the watch has a 43mm diameter but it wears more like a 40mm to 41mm because of the short lug to lug 49mm distance. The watch case has a big trick up its sleeve, is not only is made of injected carbon fiber composite (a process which has been developed in-house) but also has a patented case suspension system which gives the Formex Leggera shock protection and the ability to find a comfort position to the user while wearing the watch, basically it adapts to your wrist. On top of the case we continue to find more exotic materials such as zirconium oxide ceramic which makes the bezel virtually un-scratchable. At this point Formex could just throw the
towel, put any movement inside with a normal dial color and call it a day but this is not the case with the Leggera, inside we find a Swiss Made STP1-11 movement which has been COSC certified, decorated not only with a skeletonized rotor but also with heated blued screws, a great party which is visible through the case back. The dial is a beauty to behold, a blue fume dial with applied markers filled with super luminova BGW9 complete the package to be one of the most competitive field watches I've reviewed so far.
On the wrist:
Although the dial shines like nothing else, is the wearability of the Essence which really makes its stand out, very light and indestructible which is you ask me is not a combination that you see often, usually a light watch feels cheap and a tough watch feels heavy, neither is the case for this Swiss beauty, it has all the right notes. The case suspension system does wonders on the wrist and the nylon strap (which of course is very light) has a great quality feel, it's durable and visually very attractive. One of the reasons why the watch is so comfortable is because the watch has the best clasp at any price point period. The clasp has a patented micro adjustment system which allows you to find a perfect fit for the watch, I haven't seen anything like this before and of course the whole piece is made of carbon fibre, a perfect final touch to understand that they haven't cut corners, in fact I still don’t know how this watch exists at this price bracket.
Formex are doing some great technology firsts, they case design and patented clasp are proof that there is a re thinking on how a luxury sports watch should be, not everything needs to be steel and not everything needs to be 40mm. I've had a great time with the Leggera, even while I am writing this review I feel like I love this watch more and more, I have my eye on the cool grey and for some reason I cannot stop thinking about it, to be honest I have been on a grey dial quest for a bit now, so who know maybe in the future I will be adding one to the collection, but back to the review now, as always I digressed.
To me Formex with its Essence Leggera is bringing exotic material to the mases and that is a good thing, my initial comparison between the Richard Mile might seem out of place for some watch enthusiasts but, the 16 grams of weight that separate the two of them creates a very tight race for a tool watch that can be worn every day and not to be afraid that is going to get a scratch, and if it does, I am sure that it would look even better.
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