Introducing Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer

Introducing Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer - Updated June 23

Richard Brown




Watch News

The new Formex Essence ThirtyNine confirms it: Size really does matter.

Formex has launched a reduced size 39 mm version of their popular 43mm Essence watch. The ThirtyNine (written as one word) comes with the same detail as the original model, such as a COSC-certified movement and the unique construction characteristics which are a trademark of Formex. The new watch is the second offering from the brand (following the REEF) to bear the new more sophisticated logo and reformatted brand name design.

The Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer (left), 43mm model (right) - Image Credit: Formex

Although in a more contemporary reduced package the ThirtyNine has an identical finish as its larger sibling. As best we know there are no immediate plans to discontinue the 43mm, the two watches are different choices in the same family. The new model has the same brushed finish on both the case and bezel which is accented with hand-finished polished areas. The horizontal lines on the dial are one of the watch's most defining features. These are standard on the ThirtyNine and were available on only some of the 43mm. To achieve the crisp lines and sharp angles, each line has been CNC machined into the dial individually.

The Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer - Image Credit: Formex

The watch is powered by a Sellita SW200-1, Chronometer certified, self-winding movement with a power reserve of 38 hours. This movement comes with a Glucydur balance wheel which is resistant to deformation, magnetic forces, and corrosion. The movement is embellished with thermally blued screws and Formex’s propriety skeletonized rotor, all visible through the Sapphire Crystal case back.

As found on the Essence, and Essence Leggera (reviewed on 7 August 2020), Formex have retained on the 39mm their patented anti-shock suspension system and carbon fibre composite folding strap clasp with ultra-fine adjustment system. The steel bracelet option also features screwed links and a different micro-extension system. Interestingly Formex has decided to retain their bespoke curved spring bars for the new model which will make strap changes a little restricted.

The Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer - Image Credit: Formex

Formex CEO, Raphael Granito, said, “… we didn’t just want to make (the Essence) smaller, we wanted to make it better. We added the new logic and now match the colour of the date wheel to the dial and increased the filling depth of the Super-LumiNova to ensure even better legibility at night. Also, we’ve experimented with different dial colours…. by popular demand, we now use the new deployment clasp with the patented gradual fine adjustment for the leather straps.”

2023 Mother-of-Sky Special Edition

The Mother-of-Sky dial is made from a single piece of the inner layer of a Pinctada maxima shell. To achieve the sky blue colour, a thin layer of lacquer is applied before the cutting of the Essence’s signature horizontal deck lines.

Formex 39 Mother of SkyFormex 39 Mother of Sky Special Edition - Credit Formex

The magical iridescent and pearlescent appearance of the dial is apparent when light hits it. Due to the mineral nature of the shell, each dial will be unique in its appearance. Rose gold accents add to the superior appearance of this model. The date at 6 o’clock gives symmetry and is colour matched. The brush finish on the applied indices and hands are rounded off with hand-finished mirror polished bevels.

The stunning blue dial of the Mother-of-Sky is soft and elegant yet it is most definitely a unisex watch which should appear to a very wide demographic of buyers given its contemporary size. As always high end engineering and cutting edge design are the overwhelming themes attached to yet another impressive release from Formex.

Technical Specifications:

Movement - Swiss Made Sellita SW200-1 (self-winding) Automatic (Chronometer grade), officially certified by COSC. 26 jewels and Glucydur balance wheel. Date display. Custom-built skeleton rotor with thermally blued screws. 38 hours power reserve.
Diameter- 39mm
Height- 10mm
Lug width- 20mm
Lug-to-lug- 45mm
Water resistance- 10 bar (100 metres / 330 feet)
Weight- 65g (case only)
Bezel- Stainless steel 316L
Case- Stainless steel 316L
Glass- Sapphire crystal (front and back) with anti-reflection treatment
Strap – 20mm Italian calf leather straps with curved spring bars, Quick Release function and carbon fibre composite folding clasp with patented Micro-Adjustment System.
Stainless steel bracelet with Quick Release and Micro-extension function.
Dial - Vertical brush finish with horizontally cut lines which are CNC machined into the dial base one by one. BGW9 Super-LumiNova on hands and indexes.
Price - £1150 Pre-order for February 2021 delivery

The Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer

The Formex Essence ThirtyNine Automatic Chronometer - Image Credit: Formex

There is no doubt that watch dimensions are reducing. Thankfully, the era of excessive 46mm behemoths is behind us. Many years ago, I was lucky to find one of my “must-have” watches, a 1999 39mm Breitling Blackbird Serie Special Chronomat. A few years ago, I became conscious it looked rather small on my wrist and people even began to comment on it. For all the wrong reasons, the Blackbird found itself flightless in the drawer, superseded by more fashionable 40mm+ models. However, through 2020 I rekindled my love of the watch and only last week a respected member of the watch community commented positively on that very same design characteristic.

Formex has listened to public demand. When you compare the standard 43mm Essence to the 39mm it is amazing the visual difference 4mm can make. The new model appears substantially smaller, but the compressed dial gives the watch an even greater sense of functionality. It is yet another winning design from a brand that continues to demand your attention. Check it out for yourself here.

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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