I once heard from collectors that your first time handling a Ressence timepiece can actually be quite a polarising experience, and I can personally attest to that. When I first held a Ressence Type 3 several years ago, I vividly recall experiencing a blend of bewilderment, enthusiasm, and awe. This was due to the Type 3's unprecedented design that diverged from conventional watchmaking. In fact, I even momentarily pondered at some point during that first encounter whether this mechanical work of art was actually a collaborative design with Apple given its remarkably minimal and intuitive interface, but I digress.
In case you're not familiar with Ressence, they are an acclaimed design studio based out of Antwerp, Belgium, known for their highly sought-after watch designs that boast an incredibly futuristic and visually captivating aesthetic. Led by industrial designer Benoît Mintiens, Ressence reimagined the conventional way in which a mechanical timepiece would typically operate and function. You might wonder how they achieved this. Well, prepare to abandon any preconceived notions you have about conventional watch dial configurations as we delve further into the fascinating features that make the Ressence Type 1², the watch we're highlighting today, truly captivating.
Let's begin with the 41mm x 11.5mm case of the Type 1², which is crafted entirely from high-polished grade 5 titanium, resulting in a lightweight construction that contributes to its overall comfort when worn. The case has an interesting multi-faceted appearance, it features a combination of curves and angular surfaces that adds a sense of dimensional depth and finesse to the watch. This design choice not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also contributes to its versatility. In fact, the Type 1² is among the slimmest and most versatile. Additionally, the lug design also bears a slight resemblance to the wired lugs seen on the Panerai Radiomir, but this is not the case here (no pun intended). These short lugs are thoughtfully designed to complement rather than disrupt the already complex and intricate geometry of the case.
Moving onto the Type 1²’s super clean and crisp regulator-style dial layout, you can see that the indications are neatly and orderly isolated, creating a visually satisfying display. While the Type 1²’s may appear seemingly avant-garde to some, it is actually quite simple to read and understand. Alongside the minute scale on the outer periphery and the hour indicator (referring to the sub-dial specifically with the Ressence 'hand' logo), there are two additional sub-dials for a running-seconds and a day indication which uses two hollowed-out batons to signify the weekend. Together, these indications can be conveniently operated via a flip-out lever that cleverly folds back into the caseback when not in use. To set the watch, all that is required for the user to do is to just pop out the lever and literally turn it like a key. As you engage the lever to set the time, you'll notice that the individual sub-dials rotate in a planetary/orbital fashion, creating an engaging and intriguing visual experience.
Powering this planetary/orbital display is a self-winding, ETA-based Cal. 2894/2 that has been extensively customized with an in-house patented Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) 1 Module. Due to the demanding torque required by the Type 1²’s planetary display, it only holds a modest but solid power reserve of 36 hours at 28,800 vph.
The Type 1²'s dial layout is not only visually captivating but also reflects Ressence's design philosophy and their commitment to pushing the boundaries of independent watchmaking. Whether it's the elegant simplicity or the incorporation of cutting-edge technical innovation into a Ressence design, there's a distinct charm to the timepieces they make, such as this Type 1². It serves as a testament to Ressence's adventurous design ethos and their unwavering belief in their vision. In terms of ‘wild card’ watch designs, the Type 1² undoubtedly ranks high on my list. Personally, I wholeheartedly welcome and embrace this approach, as it adds an exciting dimension to the vast world of independent watchmaking.