The Ressence revolution – one of the strangest mechanical watches to date

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Ressence is an independent Belgian brand based in Antwerp, currently making two models, both of which are perhaps one of the most unusual concepts in the display of time. The dial is shaped like a flat circular pebble, and the indications seem to float magically, right on the top of the watch surface. The large minute hand dominates the dial, and three subdials, for hours, continuous seconds, and day of the week, progressively rotate around the dial as time progresses. The watch is constantly changing. Indications have a SuperLuminova coating so that they glow green and orange in the dark, adding to its practicality and sense of mystery.

The Type 3 watch is based on the ETA 2824-2 movement, but a vast amount of design and technology has been applied it to transform it into this piece. The movement itself lies at the base of the watch, sealed by a titanium membrane, above which there is a bubble in sapphire crystal glass. The top bubble contains a fluid chosen for its refractive index, similar to sapphire crystal, so that the indications seem to be right on the surface of the sapphire glass. The photos shown here are from the Ressence website and provide an indication, but this is a piece that you absolutely have to see in the flesh to appreciate just how different it is. The positions of the indicators themselves are relayed from the movement to another complex mechanism (28 wheels, 57 jewels) in which each subdial is tilted from the horizontal plane to achieve the desired visual appearance. Information is transmitted from the movement to the indicators by micro-magnetic fields. A thermal valve compensates for the expansion or contraction of the fluid caused by temperature variations.

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The date is shown on the perimeter of the dial, at 6 o’clock. There is no crown, reflecting designer Benoit Mintiens’ (born 1972) desire to maximize purity and minimalism. The watch is wound and adjusted using the caseback. After settings have been adjusted, the watch is returned to normal functioning just by turning it the right way up: a gravitational gearing system disconnects the time-setting mechanism.

The name Ressence is a combination of two words, renaissance and essence. The watches were first presented at Baselworld 2010. Type 3 has an automatic movement with a power reserve of 36 hours, and a total of 407 components. The watch is 44 mm in diameter and 15 mm thick at the centre. The watch costs €23,000. For information on boutiques stocking Ressence watches, follow this link.

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