The natural evolution of the Ressence Type 1 collection.
When Benoît Mintiens founded Ressence in 2010 and a year later launched the SeriesOne, it was as if he had launched a burning match into a fireworks store. What was that strange timepiece with the discs of the counters rotating on their own axis and alongside a dial, on a single plane? It took little to answer this question: it was one of the few, true revolutions of modern watchmaking, as evidenced by the second place and the special mention of the jury awarded in 2011 at the Super Watch Awards organized by Geneva Time Exhibition.
From then on, Mintiens developed and improved the technical solutions inspiring his watchmaking vision, presenting new collections and collecting numerous awards, one for all the first place in the Horological Revelation category at the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for the TYPE 3 watch. Up to, in 2014, the watch that in our opinion embodies the true essence of Ressence: the TYPE 1. Beautiful, modern, brazenly cool, impossible not to love.
TYPE 1 – THE NATURE WATCH
Impossible not to love, because it is pure Ressence philosophy: no hands protruding from the dial, no winding crown, the best readability as the only goal. But also no straight lines, only soft and sinuous, “organic” shapes, as Mintiens imagines when he is inspired by nature to create his own timepiece; shapes that, unlike the cut and clean lines, can be found in nature. Soft is the design of the case and of the organically curved sapphire crystal flowing right down to the case rather than sitting on top of a bezel. The dial itself is also curved, as are the indication discs within, requiring inclined axels for each disc. Soft are the lines of the 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.
At the center of the nature inspiring Benoît Mintiens and his watches stands the man, with his abilities, his intuitions, his feelings which are mainly expressed by his face. In Mintiens’ vision, rigorous but poetic, the face of the TYPE 1 is constantly changing, just as a human face changes with each passing emotion. And when emotions make change the expression of our face, do we concentrate on it or do we think about the muscles shaping the eyes, the forehead, the mouth? Similarly, when we look at the changing dial of TYPE 1, we are enraptured by the dance of the counters and not by the mechanism that moves them. Traditional hands protruding above the dial are the 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. You admire rotating discs within discs, no matter how it works. And you love it.
In the Ressence TYPE 1 collection, the mechanics is synonymous with ROCS, an acronym for Ressence Orbital Convex System, a state-of-the-art horological complication module including the main and sub discs. The result is a three-dimensional dial entirely in motion and ever changing: each of the hour, second and day indication discs rotates on their own axis, while simultaneously rotating 360 degrees every 60 minutes inside the complete dial which rotates to display the minutes.
The mechanics in TYPE 1 also disappear in its most obvious object, the winding crown. Defeated by the purity of the lines that does not allow extrusions, tamed by the sinuous and delicate lines of the grade 5 titanium case, it becomes the sapphire caseback, which can rotate within a ball-bearing cage. The automatic winding movement can be hand wound by turning the caseback clockwise, the time set by rotating the back anticlockwise then setting in either direction. The curved sapphire crystal on the back complements and reinforce the fluid and soft shape of top sapphire crystal. Simple, natural.
TYPE 12 SQUARED – PURITY SQUARED
Just as nature is never the same as itself, even a watch that is inspired by nature according to its designer’s mind can only evolve, can transform itself. And it does so by changing its most sensual feature, the case. In 2017, Mintiens shaped the TYPE 1 giving it a square case, characteristic of the TYPE 12 Squared.
But how is it? Didn’t we say that cut and straight lines are not a signature of nature? In fact, the TYPE 12 Squared case is square in pure Ressence style, becoming a cushion case born from the intersection of 6 spheres and distinguished by its integrated lugs and an interchangeable bracelet system inherited from the TYPE 3. A harmony of shapes and natural colors, such as Champagne, Night Blue, Silver and Ruthenium.
Sensual forms speak of technology but also of love for beauty, always looking at the state of the art of materials and technical solutions. Unlike for TYPE 1 and for other Ressence watches, the TYPE 12 is not made of Grade 5 Titanium. Its case is in polished stainless steel, with a satin finish back. The case is thinner, due to the absence of the sapphire case back acting as a crown. Instead, there is a small retractable lever, the handling of which adds a new visual and physical effect: when setting the time, the rotation of the lever corresponds exactly to the movement of the discs on the dial in a ratio of 1 to 1. Moreover, talking about new technical solutions, the complication ROCS 1 animating this timepiece has been updated with a user-friendly quick day setting, also available on the original TYPE 1 models.
TYPE 1 SLIM – ELEGANCE
But could Benoît Mintiens leave TYPE 1 without further evolution? Once changed the shape of the case and retouched the movement just a little bit, what could he still work on to make the watch more seductive and natural? On the proportions, of course.
Ressence’s original TYPE 1 can count on a nice little optical effect: wrapping the sapphire crystal down to the caseband tricks the eye into seeing the watch as even slimmer than it is. But the optical effect is not enough, the case can become even thinner. So here, in 2019, the Type 1 Slim, a new thinner version of the original Type 1. The case thickness is now 11 mm compared to the previous 13 mm, 2 mm less which, however, make a huge difference on the wearer’s wrist.
The new case design is not a revolution, Mintiens says, but rather an evolution. Not only it is slimmer compared to the previous generation, but also resolutely more modern with its seemingly integrated strap. As it was in the first TYPE 1, lugs and case are milled in one action from the same grade 5 titanium block. The centre of the case back touches the wrist between the bones, making the watch very comfortable watch to wear. It is as satisfying on the wrist as in the hand as for the eyes, just as an object inspired by harmony and nature should be.
After all, if Ressence comes from “Renaissance of the Essential”, what better than TYPE 1 embodies this ideal of essentiality? For entusiasts who easily fall in love with fine watchmaking, nothing. And how is it possible not to love this watch, which dematerialises itself to express time in its most total and natural purity?