Acquiring a wristwatch today is more of an emotional endeavour than something done for purely functional reasons. Ressence timepieces are discursive and emotive by design, offering a deviation from the conventional reading of time that is more intuitive through the “beyond hands” approach of the dial configurations. Minimalist design also reduces Ressence — a portmanteau of “Renaissance” and “essence” — timepieces to the most essential, sensual shapes.
My introduction to this truly innovative brand was through Belgian founder Benoît Mintiens at the 2017 edition of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (rebranded Watches and Wonders in 2020). Having been trained as an industrial designer, achieving the ultimate user experience was a priority for Mintiens. With no experience in traditional horology, he also approached watch design with no preconceived ideas, in a truly imaginative, futuristic way. The result was a refined but very wearable and ergonomic timepiece.
We read time by the position of the hands on a dial, in a fraction of a second, but he wanted to eliminate layers, “because the eye prefers flat surfaces, like when we read a newspaper”. According to Mintiens, “We don’t like three dimensions, it’s confusing for the eye.” Eliminating the “complexities” of conventional watches, the sub-dials of his watches are set seamlessly into a main disc in which they continuously revolve.
The original 42mm Zero Series introduced at BaselWorld in 2010 established a DNA featuring wire lugs that referenced vintage watch design and the patented ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System) in-house dial display module driven by a modified automatic Swiss ETA 2824 movement. While there was a crown on that first model, it was replaced on subsequent models by a gear system integrated into the case back, which is used to set time and wind the mechanical movement.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, a milestone for Ressence was the launch of the Type 3 in 2013. This was the first-ever oil-filled mechanical watch and was used as the base for the Type 5 diver’s watch in 2015. The oil-filled domed crystal also made it the first watch to be perfectly readable under water with zero reflections, no matter the viewing angle. The Type 1 launched in 2014 as an evolution of the Series Zero. The “ultimate travel watch”, the Type 2 eCrown was designed in consultation with Tony Fadell, who created the original Apple iPod, and was the world’s first self-setting mechanical watch when revealed in 2018.The new TYPE 1° Round (pictured) seamlessly merges the sapphire crystal with its new slimmer case profile in a pure radius that reinforces the tactile quality of this pebble-shaped creation.
The night-blue dial with its revolving discs displaying time in bi-dimensional format is set in motion by the patented ROCS 1.3 module, which is driven by the minute axle of a customised ETA 2892 base calibre. The dial has been graphically simplified with indexes every 10 minutes and a weekday sub-dial that presents the weekend with a touch of orange. Larger second and weekday hands improve legibility.
• From the July edition of Wanted, 2023.