If you follow my writing, you know that I am a bit of a Formex admirer. The Swiss brand offers specifications and value for money that are second to none. So when Formex teams up with a watch medium like Worn & Wound to create something special for enthusiasts, I pay attention. I was, however, completely unprepared for what these collaborators had concocted.

Join me to have a look at the Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer.

Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer

Imagine that you’re in an alternate universe

The premise of this collaboration is an imaginary trip to an alternate universe. Formex and Worn & Wound took inspiration from sci-fi films like Gattaca and Blade Runner. Essentially, the idea is that, in that alternate universe, technology evolved on a different timeline. If that sounds esoteric, hear me out; the watches actually reflect this concept quite clearly.

What we have here is a Formex Essence 39 in steel as we know and love it. However, the dials and handsets of the three limited editions are different. As a matter of fact, they are a huge style breach for Formex. The tech-forward, clinical, modern brand suddenly offers mid-century sector dials. The resulting aesthetic is jarringly anachronistic. What gives?

Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer white dial

But that’s where the underlying idea starts to click. What if technology and style had developed in different ways, in an alternate universe? What if 2024 tech coincided with 1950s aesthetics? Okay, I see what you did there, Formex and Worn & Wound!

Essence Sector 39 specifications

Technically, the Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer is identical to the regular model. It is still a GADA-style watch with a 39mm diameter, 45mm lug-to-lug, and 10mm thickness. It still offers a 100m water resistance rating and the signature suspended case for added comfort.

Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer bracelet

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Essence features a spring-loaded “case within a case.” As you move your hand, potentially tightening the watch, it has a little give. This relieves any pressure. To my surprise, it works as advertised! It is indeed remarkably comfortable, as I found when testing the carbon Essence Leggera some time ago.

Inside ticks an automatic, chronometer-grade Sellita SW200-1. You will find a date window at 6 o’clock and a customized, skeletonized rotor winding it on the back. The watch comes on a sturdy bracelet with toolless quick-release and toolless micro-adjustment, two features at which Formex excels.

Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer blue dial

The Essence Sector 39 dials

So, the changes are limited to the dials and hands, as I mentioned above. But, boy, do they impact the overall feel of the watches! You can choose between a white, blue, or gray dial, each with contrasting accent colors. The white and blue dials feature a red crosshair and details. The blue one comes with a red seconds hand, while the other two just have a red tip.

Speaking of the seconds hand, it comes with a super long counterweight. It reaches all the way to the sector ring, where it terminates in a subtle “T” shape. The hour and minute hands are pencil-style and look noticeably slender for watches as rugged as these.

Other cool details include a red date disc on the blue model and a curved “Chronometer” print above it. The numerals at 12, 3, and 9 o’clock are all center oriented, another mid-century touch. To me, the dials scream Worn & Wound. The use of color and the particular design choices have commonalities with earlier W&W specials.

Initial impressions of the Essence Sector 39

Now, when I first opened the press pack and was greeted by the artsy, cool, fashion-style photography by Chris Coe, it felt like a slap in the face. “Wait, this is Formex, right? What the hell are the designers doing all of a sudden?” Then I read the accompanying press release, and things start to fall into place. The subtle winks reveal themselves and combine to make a rather lighthearted and special project. This is Formex and Worn & Wound having a little fun, not taking themselves overly seriously. Kudos!

I strongly appreciate that the two companies have managed to pull each other out of their comfort zones. They seem to have landed somewhere alien to both of them, and that is the essence of collaborating if you ask me. Why get together if you are just going to do the same old thing? The Essence Sector 39 shows that some humor and imagination still have a place in the modern watch world.

Are the resulting watches beautiful? Well, no, not to me. Indeed, they are a bit jarring, as you would expect from an intentional style breach. However, I feel that Formex and W&W have sailed close to the edge without falling off. These are quite attractive, albeit from a place of oddity rather than beauty. I dig them!

Price and availability

The Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer is limited to 150 pieces, with 50 in each color. These watches are for sale now and are available for purchase here for US$1,590, the same price as the regular Essence 39. So yes, you still get the amazing value in terms of features and quality that you are used to from Formex. Now, let your hair down a little. Get a sector-dial version and pretend to be in an alternate universe. You just might like it there!

What do you think of the new Formex × Worn & Wound Essence Sector 39 Chronometer? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch specifications

Essence Sector 39 Chronometer
Blue, white, or gray sector dials
Case Material
316L stainless steel
Case Dimensions
39mm (diameter) × 45mm (length) × 10mm (thickness)
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire display
Sellita SW200-1 — COSC-certified chronometer, automatic and hand winding, 28,800vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve, 26 jewels
Water Resistance
Stainless steel three-row bracelet with toolless micro-adjustment and quick-release mechanism
Time (hours, minutes, central seconds) and date