Benoît Mintiens—founder and designer of Ressence—released today the Type 3. Yet another reason to get excited for Baselworld, we're blown away by the visual appeal and remarkable mechanics that Mintiens and team have given to the growing community of craft watchmaking. Ressence balances Dieter Rams level aesthetic simplicity with Max Büsser inspired genius in engineering to deliver watches that are simultaneously crisp and whimsical.
On the face of a traditional watch, the mechanics are represented by hands and a crown, explains Mintiens. Naturally, he wanted to remove both from the equation. "The basic idea of Ressence is to 'dematerialize' the watch as a product and to take away the technical aspect," says the industrial designer. "Our starting point is always the user. I wanted to create with the dial system another way to look at the watch from the user point of view, but not necessarily a technical point of view."
Domed in crystal and filled with refractive liquid, the face of the Ressence Type 3 appears to live directly on the surface. The visual trick is dramatized by the absence of a crown, which draws attention to the arrangement of dials. While not obvious at first glance, winding the watch reveals that the three satellite dials—for hour, second and AM/PM—float above the main minute disc. As the face rotates, the other dials remain upright and easy to read through a system of magnets. Like a constellation, the independent dials orbit together in a display of invisible engineering.
Faced with the issue of suspending liquid within the case, Ressence developed a titanium divider to keep the lower case of gears separate from the display. The upper case is also equipped with a thermostatic valve, ensuring that expansion and contraction of the materials won't impair the movement over time.
"It works a bit like a safe," says Mintiens in an attempt to characterize the winding and time change mechanism. Rotating the crystal back when facing the watch will change the time; turn it over, and spinning it will wind the watch and change the date. Simple enough from a user experience point of view, but how does it work? As it turns out there's a gravitational gear system in place to enable this functionality, but Mintiens would rather keep the technicalities under the hood.
The Ressence Type 3 is priced at €23,000. Find out more about the watch at the Ressence website.
Images courtesy of Ressence