Govberg Jewelers is excited to announce that they are an authorized retailer for Ressence. These watches can be seen in person in the Moreland Hills, Ohio store.
Few watch brands in recent years arrived on the scene with the buzz Ressence generated in 2010. Founded by Belgian industrial designer Benoît Mintiens, Ressence debuted with watches featuring dials that, while somewhat akin to historic nineteenth century pocket watch and clock regulators, presented that modular sub-dial layout in an entirely new, very contemporary package.
Mintiens indeed creates Ressence dials with the separated timekeeping and function indicator sub-dials like many regulator clocks and watches, but he then makes that layout distinctive by placing each hand on a single plane and then rotating the entire dial to follow the minute hand.
His design for Ressence Type 1 raised eyebrows on its debut, but he wasn’t done surprising watch enthusiasts. Three years later he did something else not seen previously in watchmaking: Mintiens poured oil into the top half of his Ressence Type 3 watch cases.
Oil in the Dial
Sure, you’ll find a few drops of oil inside almost every functioning timepiece, but Mintiens floods his Ressence Type 3 and, more recently, Ressence Type 5, with 35ml (nearly 2.4 tablespoons) of oil. He’s not trying to over-lubricate his watch’s movement, but instead is creating one of the visual effects that make his dials so different from anything else currently on the market.
The oil bends light, which effectively projects the dial image to the sapphire crystal. Mintiens explains that because oil and glass share very similar responses to refraction, the eye is tricked into momentarily losing its depth perception, thus the dial’s indications all appear on one level.
Beneath the oil-filled top half of the Type 3 and Type 5 cases lies yet another ingenious Mintiens invention called Ressence Orbital Convex System, or ROCS, the three-dimensional revolving bridge system that translates the power from the minute-hand axle of the customized self-winding ETA 2824/2 caliber below directly to the dial.
The ROCS system, transmitted via a set of shielded magnets, creates the planetary movement visible on the dial, whereby each timing hand and day-of-the-week indicator rotates independently while the larger main disc (with the minutes hand) rotates once per hour. Mintiens developed ROCS first for Ressence Type 1, which offers the same rotating, single-plane dial system, but without the oil refraction display he subsequently added to the newer designs. The movement is protected from the effects of any magnetism by a soft-iron Faraday cage.
These newer watches compensate for changes that might occur with the use of oil, as its volume in the watch will fluctuate with temperature. Ressence fits the Type 3 and Type 5 watches with a system of seven small bellows that compress when, with rising temperature, the oil volume increases, or expand if the temperature drops and the volume decreases. This system is directly connected to the fun and functional oil temperature gauge on the dial.
Setting & Reading the Time
To wind and set the time on all Ressence watches the wearer turns the watch over and rotates a special back-bezel that moves time forward or backward on the dial.
Mintiens says he created this clever, complicated gearing system, with its magnets and carefully angled dial display, so he could offer what he calls a more intuitive reading of the time. He adds that he wants his timepieces to be extensions of nature, all curves with only rounded shapes. Indeed, the company name comes from a contraction of the phrase “renaissance of the essential,” which Mintiens champions as a starting point to talk about how time is displayed.
Like a classic regulator dial, the minutes hand is larger than the other timekeeping indicators on a Ressence dial. It leads a one-hour rotation around the dial; the hours, running seconds and other indicators also slowly change their position.
Ressence Type 5BB
Just this year Ressence added an all-black case to its Type 5, renaming the new model Ressence Type 5BB ($35,800). As noted, Mintiens built the Type 5 in part to highlight the naturally strong visibility of his unique oil-filled system, but he also notes that the watch’s case design, gently domed sapphire crystal and convex dial are together meant to evoke a more naturalistic rounded shape that mimics the hydrodynamic profile of a sea turtle.
As a dive watch, the Ressence Type 5 ensures its 100-meter water-resistance with a new case-back made with a system called the Ressence Compression Lock System, or RCLS, which essentially locks and compressed the case gasket with two positions, ‘lock’ and ‘set.’ Like true dive watches, the Type 5 is designed to meet the ISO 6425 dive watch standards, including a seamlessly integrated uni-directional bezel. Because it’s made of titanium, the 46mm by 15.5mm watch remains lightweight, weighing eighty-seven grams, only eight grams more than the dressier Type 3.
As noted above, the titanium Type 5 and the DLC-blackened titanium Type 5BB are both powered by an ETA 2824/2 based movement configured with Ressence’s own ROCS system with magnetic-transmission planetary movement module. The automatic movement features a power reserve of approximately 36 hours, and its functions include an oil temperature gauge, hours, minutes and an unusual 90-second ‘runner’ subdial, which serves to indicate the automatic watch is operating.
Ressence Type 3
Winner of the Horological Revelation Prize at the 2013 GPHG Awards, Ressence’s Type 3, also made with titanium case, measures 44mm in diameter, just a bit smaller than the Type 5. The Type 3 features additional dial indications with day, date and AM/PM indicators in addition to the hours, minutes and 360-second runner dial.
To learn more about the technology behind Ressence or to experience how a Ressence dial shows the time, using an online ‘Interactive Time Simulator,’ visit ressencewatches.com.