I wanted to try how this system works so I decided to buy a model called Formex 4 Speed DS2100 diver watch. I decided to buy it out of curiosity - but to be quite honest, the main driver to make the purchase was at that time a very good price for a Swiss watch with ETA 2824 movement (in fact my watch was Selitta SW200 already).
The quality of the watch was quite OK, the suspension system interesting, but in reality and in practice it is only "activated" if you wear your watch too tight. What is in general not a normal situation. Like many of my watches this Formex was after a while sacrificed for other projects - it was sold :) But it left a good general impression and from that time on I followed new releases of Formex watches with great interest. Until the Essence Leggera Electric Blue was issued...
Even though we all know how problematic the black cases are, I like them very much. Then, I like blue dials. The combination of black case and dark blue dial is just my sweet spot. And yes, I admit, I am biased in this review! Essence Leggera Electric Blue is just the combination made for me!
If you know the fact that the watch was released and the end of 2020 you might ask yourself why I did not purchase it sooner. Well, the reason lies in the materials of which the watch is made of. Namely, black case is not a "regular" stainless steel black PVD coated, it is a full carbon fiber composite case. And on top of that, the bezel and the crown are made of Zirconium Oxide ceramic. Even though both are declared as hard materials, much harder than steel, both are "unproven" materials. We have probably all heard of cracked ceramic cases, carbon cases can also be delicate for the production and I was not sure if Formex is the company that you can trust to use the best ones. So, I decided to wait for a while to check the feedbacks from the market. Mark from Seriouswatches recently gave me a very honest opinion about the quality of carbon case watches in their offer and Formex was recognized by him as one of the best having no complains or any issues whatsoever from their clients. The time for the purchase has come.
It's hard to explain how impatient, anxious, nervous I was while waiting for the watch and while unpacking. "Will the watch meet my expectations?", knocked in my head. Well, it exceeded each any every one! I was simply astonished how good everything looked.
From one angle it is dark blue, then suddenly dark blue becomes light blue. Has the dial the same color all over the dial or is there a black ring around index marks? Really remarkable, no photo can display this marvelous play of the shades. I tried to do my best in the upper photos and also in the later wrist shot photos, but in real this really looks so much better than on my photos. Raised inner circle with the minute markings gives a light 3D feeling.
I also like the plain and simple general design of the dial. Just simple hour mark indexes, no numbers. The new Formex sign is now much cleaner than it used to be (compare it with the DS2100), not too much text on the dial, just "automatic chronometer". For my taste even this is not needed, but the fact that the watch has a chronometer certificate probably deserves to be exposed on the dial. I have to give an important remark here! If you check this watch on the web stores, you might find the same watch with different dial markings. Instead of word "automatic" you can find "Essence". And this is only on 43mm version of the watch in all dial colors. Check the pictures..
I was very confused about that so I contacted Mark from Seriouswatches.com to ask him when Formex changed the dial and if my watch is from and old stock since "automatic" is used instead of "Essence". He did not know the answer so he asked Formex, and received the following answer from the owner of the Formex directly: "All Electric Blue 43mm should have the "Automatic" text. It's not correct on our website render but on the real photos on the website, it's correct and it says "Automatic". It has nothing to do with the age of the watch and our stock thankfully turns over quite quickly, so we don't have any old watches or movements laying around. There are differences on the Essence and Automatic printing between the different Essence sizes but we'll be homogenizing everything while restocking dials in the future."
So - "Essence" version of the dial is just a render and not a real watch picture. If you like "Essence" dial more (as I do), you might be disappointed, this can not be bought. Quite a fail from Formex, to show a render of non existing watch, I must say.
Indexes and the hands have a very good BGW-9 SuperLuminova which offers an excellent and long lasting night visibility. Hands are just the way I like it. Simple, slightly curved, both hands of the right length and width so that they offer a clear reading of the time.
Now, let's move to the most interesting part of this watch - the carbon case with the suspension. I must admit I was a bit suspicious if the suspension is integrated also into the carbon case. But it is there and it works fine. So, what is this suspension? If I simplify, there are in fact two cases in one. The four screws in the outer case which can be seen from the top of the watch, hold the inner case with springs in-between. So basically the watch is placed in the inner case which sits within the outer case and the springs allow it to move slightly up. As said the idea of this construction is to give extra protection for the movement and to add comfort on the wrist. Four sprigs move independently so if needed just one corner is raised. Again, in reality within the normal wear of the watch and with proper tightness of the strap, the raise does not happen. But if you like to have strap tight than with the twist of your wrist suspension will activate (see the pictures below).
What I really like here is the fact that also the back plate of the watch is full carbon. I point out that simply because there is a lot of the watches in the market, which use carbon case but backplate is steel or titanium. As you can see there are no shortcuts here, everything is carbon. And in addition to all that, the deployant clasp is also carbon. No wonder that the weight of the total watch with the strap is astonishing 65 grams.
Speaking of deployant clasp, Formex here again showed it's innovativity. Namely, the clasp allows a micro regulation to six different position of the clasp while on the same teeth position. What gives almost one full hole size difference. And you basically don't have to take the watch of the wrist to change the position. For tightening you just push the clasp forward and that is it. For the release, you have to open the clasp and press the pusher which is on the down part of the clasp.
This solution also raises the question, which is the best teeth position. Due to the micro adjustment system two extreme positions are possible - either to have the clasp on the most tight position either on the lightest one. I decided to go for the position where the normal wear is on the tightest clasp position and then in case of swollen wrist I release the clasp a bit.
As already seen, watch has a glass on a backplate, which is sapphire as well as the main glass is. The total construction of the watch allows 100m water resistance.
A few words about the movement. As it was already said in between the lines, watch uses a Swiss movement with the chronometer certificate. When this watch was released, Formex announced that STP 1-11 will be used, nowadays in the watch description a SelittaSW200-1 is mentioned. Both movements are ETA 2824-2 clones, both uses 26j. So, just by looking through the back plate it is almost impossible to identify. But as far as I know STP 1-11 was used only at the very beginning so I am quite sure that I am a Selitta version owner.
I of course checked how chronometer shows in practice. First I measured the positional error and movement works really as it should. Very small positional errors ranging between -2 to +3 sec daily (my results did not fit into the original measured values...). Even better results were obtained in 7 days constant day&night wear. First I fully winded the watch and after 24h watch showed +1 sec. After that it lost every day up to 1 sec, after 5 days it was in -1 sec and after 7 days watch was -4 second behind the atomic clock. I must also point out that I was very inactive during those 7 day (I participated on the conference with minimal daily movements). So winding was not extensive. I assume that on the day 7 power reserve was near the end and that drop of three seconds in last two days is the consequence of that. While there was enough power, the declinations were minimal.
Let me go on to the straps. Formex offers, that each customer can decide among 12 different straps. From NATO WatchGecko, to different colors of leather, then different colors of nylon and a black rubber strap. I opted for leather black strap with blue stitches. When watch arrived I was very satisfied with the choice. The strap made a great first impression, it is very soft, gentle, colors are just right to fit with the case and the dial. But the inlay of the strap and such a softness made me worry, how durable this strap can be. Constant wear on my wrist for one week made my suspicions even bigger. The strap already shows first signs of wear without any serious sweating.
All straps have a curved quick release lugs. Quick release lug is placed also on a clasp part of the strap. So changing the strap really requires just one minute of your time and no additional tool at all. Playing around with different straps can not be easier!
If you order a nylon or leather strap, you receive two fix parts of the strap. One long and one extremely long. With my 19,4 cm wrist size I still use shorter one where the two pins of the clasp are placed in the holes somewhere in the middle (depending on the clasp position, as explained before). So still plenty of place for a bigger wrist. I can just use the larger strap but in this case I have to place pins to the first holes and I have to tighten the clasp to maximum.
The rubber strap unfortunately is designed differently and you receive just one large fixed part which is prepared to be cut to the shorter dimension. At the time being I have decided not to do that, I will try to wear it without that cut.
Both additional straps are again very soft, but both seems more durable than the leather one. Rubber one is a bit too thin for my taste, I would rather have a slightly thicker rubber than this is. After checking all three - if you have to pick just one, go for a nylon one. It is the best combination of softness, durability, elegance, yet sporty. Color match with the watch is great (strap it is not so bright as it seems). But I will gladly and often change straps according to the mood and situation.
So, how does everything together feels on the wrist? Tough question. Wearing this watch is so different to anything I have ever had that it is hard to explain the feeling. Just for the sake of comparability, diameter of the watch is 43mm, thickness is 11mm, L2L is 49mm, lugs are 22mm. All those dimensions are just made for my wrist. Watch fits perfectly, the total package is so light that sometimes I ask myself subconsciously where my watch is because I don't feel it. Formex made a great job to release the same model also in 41mm dimension. So, if you believe 43 is too big for you, you can take 41 with L2L of just 46,5 mm.
If you are sceptic about the carbon case as I was, then you can also choose standard Essence (not Leggera), which is stainless steel version of this watch. Standard Essence is released not just in 41mm and 43mm but also in 39mm case size. I must worn you, dials for Leggera are not the same as for the standard Essence, standard's are more "boring". Yet standard has one important advantage - it can be also purchased on a bracelet while for the Leggera bracelet does not exist (it would be a great fun having a carbon bracelet as well, though).
Formex does not complicate about the box very much, which is positive comment! It uses a very standard leather box marked with a Formex sign. Attached is a chronometer certificate, and a booklet with a plenty of information about the Formex, suspension system and the watch itself. Just all you need, to be honest.
Price? For EU customers 1650 EUR with NATO strap and 1790 EUR with all other strap combinations. Additional straps used to be 65 EUR, now they are 85 EUR. Same prices are in Formex web shop or in Seriouswatches.com, where I bought the watch and the additional straps. Again, I know I really am biased here - but watch itself made me such! In my opinion it is simply hard to get a better watch within this price range. I don't dare to say the best, but I do dare to say one of the best p/q combinations I have ever encountered. For a decent price it simply offers everything you need from your everydays watch. This watch is a sure keeper for me.
At the end I have to give a big thanks to Mark from Seriouswatches.com, who helped me during the entire purchase process, reacted with great speed to all my whishes, answering my questions while preparing this review, checked the strap availability, shipped it at once, etc. I have no idea how responsive the Formex is but if you buy the watch directly but with Seriouswatches.com you just can't miss.