Formex Essence 39 Review

#formex #reviews

Birthday time is nearly here and so the perfect reason to pick a new watch. After a couple of recent purchases and a lucky call from my Rolex AD, funds are a bit lower as I look for a present for myself. However, with constraint comes creativity and in this case an awesome discovery. The Formex Essence 39mm was released in 2021. This smaller scale version from it's 43mm predecessor may be tinier but definitely comes with some big benefits in design and engineering. I made my purchase through Teddy Baldassare's website and contacted them directly. My sales rep Dan was phenomenal and provided me a small discount without even asking. With his recommendation (and using my purchase savings) I bought a Formex leather strap and custom clasp from their website. Formex immediately reconciled the watch and strap orders and included them in the same shipment. Both Teddy's team and Formex have great tracking and communication after the purchase.

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The Formex Essence 39mm comes in four different dial colors, but I was drawn to this understated denim blue as a versatile option. The obvious comparison is the Omega Aqua Terra 150 41mm with the "teak dial" and the 6 o'clock date window. That certainly gives this a first appeal but from there it takes a life of it's own. The COSC certified Sellita SW 200-1 top grade movement with custom finish and 42 hours of power reserve behind the sapphire crystal display case back is enjoyable to look at. The bezel, rectangular indices, and baton-style hands are highly polished and have an excellent sport-to-dress vibe. The indices and hands all have lume which I'll discuss later. The color matched date wheel with white numbering just flows with the dial. 

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The fit on wrist is phenomenal. It practically glides on and feels nearly weightless. This may be due in part to Formex's custom suspension systems which floats the watch dial and bezel within the larger case on a spring system. This is affixed from the four screws in each corner which are clear in the photos, but on wrist, are practically subdued in appearance within the brushed finish of the rest of the case. The push-pull crown is a bit small to grab ahold of, but works easily. As typical with the Sellita it hacks, hand winds, and has a quick set date. However, with only 100 meters of water resistance, it certainly is less than one would expect from this quality of a watch.

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The bracelet is amazing with screw links for easy adjustment. Each link is more in a half-link style with incredible articulation making the fit and adjustment easy to fine tune. The butterfly deployent clasp is a dream to operate with a hidden half link extension that can pop out from the segment with the Formex logo. The bracelet is designed with a quick release system that you can squeeze with your finger tips and it automatically retracts the spring bars to smoothly and easily release the bracelet for the 20mm strap change. Formex advertises that it is a do-it-all watch that can go from dress to sport with a simple strap change. Their custom quick release leather or rubber strap is closed with their proprietary Carbon Fiber Composite Folding Clasp. The clasp has a hidden sliding micro adjust that works when the clasp is closed to give an additional 4mm of play from the watch strap holes. When you purchase the strap, you are required to provide your wrist size to get the right fit.

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The indices and hands all have some form of blue lume that appears to be a Super Luminova product. I have to say, it is not a strong lume and does not appear to last for a great while especially compared to a Seiko or Tudor. Overall the 39mm case though is an incredible fit (and I included a comparison size photo of my 40mm Seiko Alpinist for a sense of scale)

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Now I mentioned this is a birthday present to myself. I bought this early and the big day still has not come yet. However, I couldn't wait and with this excellent watch on the wrist for a week now, it's been a joy to add to the collection. At roughly $1400 its well worth the expense and is probably undervalued compared to what you get. A highly speced-out watch with incredibly unique engineering and design in each aspect. It is definitely worth considering.

Formex Essence 39 Review

4.8
Yes No
5/5
4/5
5/5
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5/5
  • Bracelet and clasp system are awesome
  • This is a chameleon: work, weekend, sport. Good single watch collection
  • So comfortable, it's stealth on the wrist
  • Lume is a bit weaker than expected.
  • Slightly industrial look detracts from clean sports style
  • Only 100 meter of water resistance on the push-pull crown

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Dude!  That was like a full on blog review. Good job. Nice looking watch too!  I like it. I’ve kicked around the idea of Formex before. I think they are cool watches and a great value. 

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great review, congratulations on your birthday and the new watch, looking great👍. however im not really a fan with that screw in the front case, the other element is great though.

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Congrats and solid review. Really like the blue strap. 

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Happy birthday for whenever it is 🥳

You set the standard with your excellent reviews 👍

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Deeperblue

Happy birthday for whenever it is 🥳

You set the standard with your excellent reviews 👍

Thanks much. I do alot of professional writing on war and security so this is my creative outlet. Chance to help people make fun choices and hopefully learn more too. I'm a big believer in writing to learn and hopefully my camera skills will suck less over time, which is also my woodworking moto. Thanks for the support and encouragement! 😊 

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Thanks for the review. I looked at this watch before, but largely because of the industrial look. Especially the screws at the bottom of the case intrigued me. It really looks like a high-quality Swiss tool.

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I think this watch has some great specs, but I hate the look of the screws on the front holding down the case. Also seems like an Aqua Terra ripoff. You can get used or grey market Aqua Terras for not much more. If I wanted this type of watch, I would go with the Omega personally. 

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RandyC

I think this watch has some great specs, but I hate the look of the screws on the front holding down the case. Also seems like an Aqua Terra ripoff. You can get used or grey market Aqua Terras for not much more. If I wanted this type of watch, I would go with the Omega personally. 

Fair enough and certainly to each his own in this regard. I'm not sure what "not much more" implies here. The cheapest Aqua Terra 41mm with the horizontal teak dials aren't running less than $3500 in gray and secondary markets (Joma, Crown&Caliber, Chrono 24, Hodinkee, Ebay), so in the "value for money" category there is a definitive distinction here speaking objectively and empirically. Comparing a Sellita to an in-house caliber for all intents is a lost apples-to-oranges cause which, again, is reflected in the price. Yet, fit, and finish here are in their own category and I have never felt a more comfortable watch on wrist. The biggest disappointment compared to the Aqua Terra is the water resistance and for that reason alone, I'd certainly give the Aqua Terra it's due as the more versatile watch.

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CTReese

Fair enough and certainly to each his own in this regard. I'm not sure what "not much more" implies here. The cheapest Aqua Terra 41mm with the horizontal teak dials aren't running less than $3500 in gray and secondary markets (Joma, Crown&Caliber, Chrono 24, Hodinkee, Ebay), so in the "value for money" category there is a definitive distinction here speaking objectively and empirically. Comparing a Sellita to an in-house caliber for all intents is a lost apples-to-oranges cause which, again, is reflected in the price. Yet, fit, and finish here are in their own category and I have never felt a more comfortable watch on wrist. The biggest disappointment compared to the Aqua Terra is the water resistance and for that reason alone, I'd certainly give the Aqua Terra it's due as the more versatile watch.

I will say that the Aqua Terra bracelet is underwhelming for a luxury watch. Not sure how the Formex bracelet is, but if you are bracelet guy and like the Formex bracelet I can see why one might lean that way. The rubber bracelet on the Aqua Terra is amazing though. 
 

i don’t mind buying watches with quality third party movements. Makes them easier and cheaper to service. Might be nice to have one fancy dress watch with an exhibition case back and an amazing movement but can’t justify having all my watches have expensive in-house movements. Just not worth it to me (at least with my budget). 

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Awesome review. I picked up a Formex Reef and now I have definitely turned my attention to the Essence. I was pretty set on an AT until I got my Reef in hand, and now I am curious how much "better" the AT really is compared to the Essence and whether it's worth the premium required to get an Omega.