In today’s watchmaking landscape of more dial colors, finishes, and variety than ever before, it can be difficult for smaller or younger marques to keep up with their rivals. It certainly helps, however, to have your own dial-making facility. This important fact has been responsible for Swiss Formex being able to quickly and competently come out with so many different colors and styles of dials for its timepieces. For Summer 2023, Formex offers an assortment of five “Color Splash” dials of various bright hues that are available in two different models, the 39mm versions of the steel Formex Essence and the 43mm version of the carbon and ceramic Formex Essence Leggera. In this article, I go hands-on with one color version of each watch, and you can view the Formex website to see the full collection.
According to Formex, while these are not limited-edition watches, “summer colors” will be produced in limited batches, and for the summer season only. Again, Formex has the ability to produce dials in-house and thus can engage in the production of many different types of dials. Given that these dials must be carefully produced, often with hand color-spraying and then CNC machining, and they must be made in controlled batches (as opposed to one at a time). The names of the colors for this summer are sunflower yellow, jungle green, sunset orange, baby blue, and lavender purple. For this article, I decided to shoot the lavender purple version of the Formex Essence Leggera 43 mm and the sunflower yellow dial version of the Essence 39 mm.
aBlogtoWatch has covered both of these base Formex Essence watches in many other articles. Readers can easily search for those past reviews on aBlogtoWatch to get more details and background about the Essence collection and the variety of versions that Formex produces. I will briefly explain the Essence model and how these two versions are different. At its core, the Essence is Formex’s “daily wear” sports watch that combines durability and performance, with a comfortable wearing experience and elegant sense of style.
All Essence cases feature a spring-mounted case middle which is designed to absorb forms of shock that would otherwise highly disrupt the operation of the mechanical movement inside of it. Inside both the 39mm and 43mm versions of the Essence are Swiss Made Sellita SW200-1 automatic movements. In high-grade decorated form, the movements can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback on the rear of the watch. Another flat AR-coated sapphire crystal is over the dial. The Movement is a very competent performer and is offered in each of these models in COSC Chronometer form. They operate at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. Both versions of the Essence are water resistant to 100 meters.
Given the different size and taste preferences out there, Formex has found success in creating an “Essence for everyone.” In steel, Formex offers the Essence in a 39mm or 43mm wide case. In Leggera (lightweight) form, the Essence is produced from carbon with a black ceramic bezel and is offered in 41mm and 43mm case sizes. In the future, it might be possible that more versions of the Essence will get summer dial colors, especially since it sounds like this concept will extend at least to summer 2024 (and probably beyond).
What fans tend to like about Essence watches is a combination of their aesthetic style (especially with all the variety), the high number of features in each watch, and the brand’s dedication to fair pricing. A great example of this is the bracelet offered with the steel version of the Essence. Comfortable and good-looking, the bracelet features a wide range of adjustability. This includes two link sizes, a proprietary deployant clasp, and a 4mm micro-adjustment feature. Formex offers the steel Essence watches available on either the strap or the matching steel bracelet, with the 43mm model now appearing to be available with an extra black NATO-style strap. Note that the watches include quick-release spring bars for tool-free changing of straps/bracelet. I also want to say that while I appreciate Formex for giving consumers choices in what straps to purchase, I wonder if most people would be willing to pay a bit more to have the watch automatically come with a few strap/bracelet options.
The straps Formex offers with the Essence Color Splash watches tend to match the dial colors, but a more conservative black strap option is also available. While it is true that bright-colored watches are trending, not all wearers are ready for the boldest possible wearing experience, which includes a watch with both a bright color dial and strap. Formex even produces the carbon buckles that go with the rubber or leather/fabric straps. These deployant clasps offer their own discreet micro-adjustment system.
Another excellent detail is in how Formex even matches the date disc color to that of the dial. This is quite rare to find in watches at this price point, and it does make a real difference when you wear these watches, as rather than the boring white date window, you have one that is matched to the dial color. Given that Formex symmetrically designed the date window at the 6 o’clock position on the face, the Essence has the appeal of a dateless dial, but actually with the date information available.
Other than the summer splash colors, the Essence dials with their horizontal lines remain unchanged. The applied hour markers and full-sized hands are legible and given Super-LumiNova lume. Formex really offers more than one reason to own an Essence with all the sizes, materials, colors, and strap options available. As a dressier timepiece, the Essence 39mm on the bracelet is excellent, and as a sportier watch with a lightweight case, the 43mm Essence Leggera is equally compelling. Prices remain fair, with the splash dial Essence watches starting at $1,480 USD for the Essence 39 mm on a strap. That goes up to $1,590 USD for the Essence 39 mm on the steel metal bracelet. The Formex Essence Leggera 43 mm costs $1,640 USD on a NATO-style strap and $1,790 USD for the leather or rubber strap that comes on a folding carbon Formex-made deployant buckle. Learn more at the Formex watches website.