If you’re not familiar with Ressence watches then you are in for a treat as they’re one of those innovative watch brands that combines technology, surprises and elegance.
Before we talk about the Type 1, let us tell you a little more about the company. The company name ‘Ressence’ is an amalgam of two words – Renaissance and Essence. The most striking aspect of Ressence watches is the dial, the design of the dial is one of those “Wow! I haven’t seen that before” type of innovations. The origin of their dial concept was formed through their observations that reading time on hand dials, when trained, is faster than reading digits. The human brain has developed cognitive paterns that translate an image projected by the position of the hands into time conception. This knowledge has become universal.
The Ressence Type 1 features an automatic winding movement, with indications for hours, minutes, seconds and days of the week. All the time indications appear to be displayed by high contrast hands on subdials. So at first glance, the Ressence Type 1 looks like a fairly normal wristwatch, although one obviously well designed for maximum legibility. And maximum legibility is the first clue that there is more to the Type 1 than first meets the eye, much more. Nothing seemingly too far out of the ordinary there.
Except that absolutely everything about the Type 1 is extraordinary. There are no hands, there is no crown, nothing is flat and nothing is as it first appears. It’s the face of the Type 1 that keeps you staring as it is constantly changing, just as a human face changes with each passing emotion. What appear at first glance to be “hands” are in fact markings on orbiting discs, or, more accurately, rotating discs within discs. Each of the hour, second and day indication discs rotates on their own axis, while simultaneously rotating 360° every 60 minutes inside the complete dial which rotates to display the minutes.
With traditional hands replaced by discs providing a poetic abstract representation of time, all of the indications are on one curved surface and never overlap. Traditional hands protruding above the dial are obvious evidence on the mechanics beneath and Ressence founder Benoît Mintiens, an industrial designer by profession, chooses to focus on the user experience of reading the time rather than the distraction of the mechanics involved. That doesn’t mean an absence of complex mechanics, just that they are out of sight. No satisfied with disguising the mechanical nature of a wristwatch by dispensing with traditional hands protruding from the dial, Mintiens has further concealed evidence of being engineered-by-man in virtually eliminating straight lines in the architectural forms of the Type 1. Straight lines are rarely found in nature and even more rarely found on organic life forms.
The near biological look of the Type 1 is further highlighted by its lugs, which appear to have grown out of the caseband like branches from a tree, rather than have been simply added on as is usual. This effect was achieved by machining them from the same Grade 5 titanium block as the case, rather screwing or soldering them to the case. A crown sticking out from the side of a watch is blatant evidence of its mechanical nature, so naturally Benoît Mintiens has dispensed with the crown entirely. Instead of a crown, the whole sapphire caseback can rotate within a ball-bearing cage. The automatic winding movement can be hand wound by turning the caseback clockwise, the time set simply by rotating the back anticlockwise then setting in either direction. In keeping with the Ressence philosophy of concealing the mechanics, the automatic winding rotor is not immediately obvious. However, it can be seen turning under the sapphire crystal caseback.