June 28, 2022
by Ariel Adams
Swiss Formex has recently announced an updated and expanded Essence Leggera watch collection that includes five dial variations, as well as two case sizes. The Formex Essence Leggera was originally debuted by aBlogtoWatch back in the summer of 2020. Now, in 2022, the Essence Leggera gets the full launch it was meant for with an updated product as well as the larger assortment of variations that Formex wanted to make available to its consumers. The launch of the updated Formex Essence Leggera also coincided with the fulfillment of an aBlogtoWatch & Formex giveaway experience that was delayed due to the pandemic. Better late than never — a lucky aBlogtoWatch audience member recently joined me and Formex here in California for a day of skydiving and received his choice of a new Essence Leggera watch. This article will both recap the Formex giveaway experience and demonstrate the larger 43mm-wide version of the new Formex Essence Leggera and its five current dial variations. In the near future, aBlogtoWatch will also offer a hands-on experience of the 41mm-wide version of the Formex Essence Leggera timepiece collection.
It was always intended for us to skydive wearing one of the new Essence Leggera watches, which are said to be about 40% lighter than their steel-cased cousins. I certainly did wearing a Formex Essence Leggera on one wrist and a Formex Field Titanium Automatic watch on the other wrist. In this video, you can see some shots of our wristwatch-wearing while we were experiencing free fall. The original Essence Leggera was produced in limited quantities around the time Formex was changing its logo. The original Essence Leggera that I linked to above is sold out but returns with the updated Formex logo and other detail enhancements, along with four new dial variations. The entire point of the watch is to create something lightweight that still enshrines the current values of a Formex watch, including the patented case suspension system that puts the inner in a spring-loaded shock system that can move a bit independently from the outer case. Not all Formex watches have this system now, but the Essence certainly does.
The outer case of the Leggera watch is produced from a proprietary black carbon blend, while the bezel is produced from polished black ceramic. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal and the case is water-resistant to 100 meters. Weight for these light watches (without the strap) is just 50 grams for the 43mm-wide model and 40 grams for the 41mm-wide model. Other than case diameter and lug-to-lug distance (49mm versus 46.5mm), the two versions of the Essence Leggera are the same including the 11mm-thick case size. Formex wanted to produce two versions of the Essence Leggera simply to satisfy broader consumer demand as case size preferences vary with tastes and anatomy.
Available on at least three different 22mm-wide strap options (including rubber, leather, or a new nylon NATO-style strap), the Essence Leggera watches have five rather different dial variants. I like that Formex didn’t just choose different colors, but different finishing and style options in addition to the various colors. For example, the “Cool Grey” dial is matte, while the “Electric Blue” is done with a shinier gradient effect. The “Mamba Green” and “Arctic White” dials are also given horizontal decorative lines, and the Forged Carbon (priced a bit more) is just a black piece of forged carbon material complete with that material’s signature texture. The dials are honestly all really cool, but it is hard not to love the white dial as a tool watch. I thought for a future model, it would be interesting to render this watch with a white ceramic case (and black ceramic bezel) in lieu of the black carbon case. Even though this article is about showing the 43mm-wide models, the 41mm-wide Essence Leggera watches will be available with the same dial options.
Note, as well, that while some of these are prototype models, the final crowns will have the new Formex logo etched into them. Inside the watches are Swiss Sellita SW-200 automatic movements (4Hz with two days of power reserve), which are also each sent to COSC for chronometer certification. You can view the movements through the sapphire crystal windows on the back of the cases. Note how all of the straps feature quick-release spring bars, and the deployant clasps (produced by Formex, as well) have handy micro-adjust systems that are neat and very uncommon to find on straps (versus, say, bracelets. At this time, a matching black bracelet doesn’t exist, but Formex reports working on ceramic bracelet options that will probably show up within the next few years. Formex is one of the smarter modern watch brands that sells its straps easily via the website so that you can purchase a watch on one of its straps and easily get more if you’d like to update your wearing experience.
Let’s get back to our Formex & aBlogtoWatch giveaway experience. Mr. Ryan H. from Florida was our aBlogtoWatch audience winner, and he traveled to California to meet me and the Formex management team, including CEO Raphael Granito and Markus Walchli, who runs Formex in the United States. Mr. Granito is a seasoned skydiver who is certified to jump solo; he arranged for the four of us to have custom Formex-branded jumpsuits, which made the entire experience far more satisfying. This wasn’t my first skydiving experience, but it was for our aBlogtoWatch winner, who was excited to jump and to receive an Essence Leggera watch. The venue was the famed Perris, CA Skydiving Center, which is equally used for civilian and military training.
We began with a few rounds in a wind tunnel, which puts you in a cylindrical room with air blowing upward, allowing you to simulate the experience of free fall. I’d never done that before, and it was a great study in learning to fly and getting us excited about flying up to 12,500 feet and then jumping out of the plane. What was really exciting for me is that everyone, save for myself, the aBlogtoWatch winner, and Formex’s Markus was jumping solo and not tandem. Only certified skydivers are allowed to jump solo, and it was much more interesting to be with a lot of experienced jumpers as opposed to a plane full of nervous novices. Even so, there is a typical level of “pre-jump” anxiety you can sense in the air, along with the various little rituals experienced jumpers perform each time prior to exiting the plane through the open hatch at the rear. For most people, jumping is less about adrenaline and appears to be a more zen-like experience. That is, unless you like to show off, performing various tricks while in free fall or after the parachute opens, a common fun activity for experienced skydivers. No spins or rolls for me, as it was only my third time experiencing skydiving.
Of course, I got a few chances to stare at the Formex watches on my wrists while descending. Not that viewing the time was particularly important, but I’m a nerd for seeing how legible tool watches are in extreme environments, be it the dark, underwater, or flying through the air at about 120 miles per hour. Having fun with your watches (and, for people like me, with watch brands) is a key part of the hobby these days. It isn’t assumed most people will adventure with their adventure watches, hence the applicability of the term “desk diver.” It is really important to me to go out and experience life’s active opportunities with the timepiece products designed for those activities. Otherwise, what is the larger point of this hobby?
I want to thank Formex and everyone involved in this skydiving experience for making it happen and look forward to meeting more aBlogtoWatch audience members at future events and experience opportunities.
Returning again to the Formex Essence Leggera collection — by the time you read this article, the 43mm-wide version should be fully available for sale, while the 41mm-wide Essence Leggera models will be arriving soon after. Cost for each watch depends on the dial, as well as the strap option you select. Prices start at $1,640 USD on the NATO-style strap and go up to $1,990 USD for the forged carbon dial with one of the straps that has the carbon deployant clasp options. Learn more or order at the Formex watches website here.