Formex Essence Leggera Review


Formex Essence Leggera not fade away

The Formex Essence Leggera reminds me of the decade I spent as a resident alien in England. During my time in The Land Of Hope and Glory, I saw the sun exactly seven times. On one of those occasions, I had to point at the sky and explain to my toddler “that’s the sun.” Otherwise, the British sky was so gray, so pale and washed out I called it “the dome” . . .

A friend and I devised a game. We’d sit in the window of a Windsor department store cafe and watch gray-faced pensioners parade past.

Two points for a gray jackets, three points for gray trousers, four points for gray accessories (handbag, scarf, belt, etc.), five points for gray shoes. The 50-point game reset every 15 minutes or so.

The Formex Essence Leggera’s dial isn’t OAP grumpy gray, or penny-pinching battleship gray. In the right light, it’s a lot bluer than that. But it’s still gray.

With a gray rehaut marking the endless passage of gray seconds. Like the moment you abandon all hope of leading an interesting life and start collecting animal-shaped teapots, muttering “mustn’t grumble” as you prepare to shuffle off this mortal coil. Just sayin’ . . .

Formex Leggera blue dial

Good news! You don’t have to buy a gray dial Formex Essence Leggera on a gray strap (10 points!). Unless the government replaces the defunct health care mandate with a watch buying directive, you’re free to spend your money on something else.

The better play: a Leggera with an elegant black dial or a cheerful blue-to-black sunray dial (held fast by your choice of leather, rubber or nylon). highly recommends either alternative.

Formex Leggera money shot 2

And I highly recommend the Formex Essence Leggera for anyone looking for a sports/dress/field/swimming/sleeping watch.

Leggera by name, Leggera by nature. So much so that wearing this watch is a deeply forgettable experience – in a good way. As in “Honey! Do you know where did I put my watch? Oh wait, never mind. I’m wearing it. I said, I’m wearing it! Yeah well, you’re getting old too.”

Formex Leggera weight

Yeah it’s light. The Leggera’s scratch and ding-proof carbon fiber case and metal-and-plastic automatic movement weigh 50 grams. The nylon strap and carbon fiber folding clasp add 15 grams. The resulting 65g (2.29 oz.) watch is nothing to sneeze at – lest it blow away.

That’s insane. But, to borrow a page from John Lennon, it’s not the only one. The Formex Essence Leggera faces stiff competition in the Swiss watch flyweight class. Imagine that . . .

Breitling Endurance Pro

For example, the recently released ceramic Breitling Endurance Pro also weighs 65 grams. The titanium OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra Ultra-Light tips the scales at a scant 55 grams. Wait a second. It’s not all about weight.

The quartz-powered Endurance Pro costs $3k. OMEGA’s self-winding titanium AT sucks $48,600 from someone’s wallet. The automatic Formex Essence Leggera sets you back just $1650, including taxes, duties and shipping.

Ba-bam! Gravity-wise, the Formex Essence Leggera offers the least amount of watch for the least amount of money.

Formex Essence Leggera Timegrapher

It’s even more of a bargain if you factor-in the Leggera’s STP1-11 Chronometer grade automatic movement. Lashed to the Timegrapher, the COSC-certified engine delivered -2 seconds a day accuracy.

The Swiss engine beavers away at 28,800 bph. Built by robots, safeguarded by Incabloc shock protection, boasting a 44-hour power reserve, the windable, hackable movement is both durable and reliable.

Formex caseback

You can admire the Fossil Group movement – complete with perlaged bits and thermally blued screws – through its transparent caseback. Helpfully enough, the Formex-branded rotor reminds you that the Leggera is “Swiss Made.” So not all the parts are Chinese.

Formex Leggera dial 4

Aesthetically, the Leggera’s a remarkably restrained affair (especially in gray). A black, brushed-effect zirconium oxide ceramic bezel perches atop a black high polish case ring, perched atop a matte black forged carbon fiber case.

The high polish hexagonal crown matches the four exposed case screws, while the glossy dial text matches the polished ring. The dial waterfalls into the date window’s white-on-black date display (a boon for the date window averse).

Side on Leggera Formex

Looking for all the world like cream-filled hot dog buns, the Leggera’s applied indices circumnavigate a symmetrically balanced dial, patrolled by plain Jane hour and minute hands, and a second hand with a whiskey bottle on its butt.

Formex Essence Leggera Lume

The overall effect is entirely legible, day or night, when the Super-LumiNova BGW9 lumed indices and hands emit a perfectly practical and peaceful blue-green glow.

In between sunshine and darkness, not so much. In fact, the gray-faced Leggera is completely unreadable in the gloaming. This not the low-light watch you’re looking for.

Formex Essence Leggera side view 2

If you’re looking for a “check this out” feature to impress your watch buddies, Formex’s patented Case Suspension System will do the trick. Suspended on four springs, the Leggera’s entire movement – crown and all – pops up and down when you bend and unbend your wrist.

Assuming you wear the Leggera on the end of your wrist. Which I don’t. If you do and play golf or racquet sports, the Suspension System is a standout feature.

Formex strap

To ratchet-up the comfort quotient, Formex patented a Micro Adjustment System for their carbon fiber clasp, enabling on-the-fly embiggening.

Press the right (left for me) clasp release button and you can adjust the strap in or out a quarter inch or so. Loosening the nylon strap is easy. Press and pull. To tighten the nylon strap, you have to remove the watch from your wrist.

My wrist doesn’t expand in the Texas heat. So the MAS clasp is another innovation that isn’t really useful unless it is.

Formex carbon fiber clasp

The carbon fiber clasp snicks home with absolute security. I don’t know how the leather or rubber straps look or feel, but the nylon number is a delight – soft enough for pre-tourniquet tension, strong enough for full auto Friday.

The Formex Essence Leggera is water resistant to 100m – ready for snorkeling, swimming and other low-impact water sports (cliff divers need not apply).

The nylon strap is not. Scotchgarding might solve that issue (no watches were harmed in the making of this review). Formex’s $89 rubber strap is the better bet. The toolless quick change system makes a spare strap an appealing proposition.

Formex Essence Leggera on glass

The Formex Essence Leggera is a minimalist masterpiece. It’s rugged without looking rugged. Light without being quartz. Accurate without being delicate. Classy without being pretentious.

If I had one complaint – aside from low-light illegibility and a dial color that triggers Seasonal Affective Disorder – I’d share it with you. But I don’t.

Formex Angel

If you fancy a superlight, super-tough, super-accurate Swiss watch for a reasonable price, Formex’s Essence Legerra is guaranteed to brighten your day. Even if it’s gray.

Model: Formex Essence Leggera
Price: $1650 inc. tax, duties and shipping


Diameter: 43mm
Height: 10mm
Lug-to-lug: 49mm
Lug width: 22mm
Case: Injected carbon fiber composite
Bezel: Zirconium oxide ceramic
Crystal: front and back sapphire with anti-reflection coating
Dial: Faceted hour/minute hands with applied indexes
Lume: BGW9 Super-LumiNova
Movement: Self-winding STP1-11 COSC-certified chronometer
Functions: Seconds, minutes, hours, date
Power reserve: 44-hours
Weight: 65g (2.29 ounces)
Water resistance: 10 bar (100m)

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Design * * * *  
Combines carbon fiber with an accurate and reliable movement to create a minimalist masterpiece with perfectly judged textures and details.

Legibility * * *   
Lume-filled indices and hands are totally at-a-glanceable – except in low-light. Then, not at all.

Comfort * * * * *
Like wearing nothing at all. Seriously.

Overall * * * * *
A light, tough, reliable, accurate, elegant, versatile Swiss watch. Superb value-for-money.


TTAW is a fully independent watch website
Formex loaned us the watch for review.
No further considerations were provided.


  1. That’s an oddly monochromatic color scheme, but the date window really works for me. White on black in a gray dial is oddly inobtrusive. That beveling on the side of the window is a neat feature that I can’t say I’ve seen elsewhere.

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