To say that Ressence has figured among the more compelling and different independent watchmakers of recent times feels like an understatement, because in truth, it’s been revolutionary. One struggles to think of a single brand that’s broken out in a bigger way over the last decade with such a brand-defining look and a technology.
Established by the Belgian industrial designer Benoit Mintiens in 2010, Ressence distinguished itself from the start not by following a playbook written by any previous watchmaker, independent or otherwise, but by rethinking what a fine wristwatch could be and reinterpreting the traditional watch display. For all of the creativity, in-house manufacturing, and proprietary movement design and construction one sees today in high-end watchmaking, it is worth considering the extent to which most analog watches share essentially the same display type. With the groundbreaking ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System), Ressence established early on that it would show the time in a completely different way, yet one that was also highly intuitive – no easy feat. And while Ressence has received widespread validation from watch collectors and the horological cognoscenti, it comes as little surprise that it has also established itself as a maker of design objects with a following in the art and design worlds.
To mark its first decade, Ressence has been reinterpreting the models that defined its first 10 years with the new Collection X limited editions. Each of these limited editions of 40 pieces has managed to evince the charm of the original Ressence that inspired it while providing a twist in terms of its design or feature set. For the newest timepiece in the Collection X, Ressence has teamed up with the award-winning Austrian-born, New York-based designer and Ressence client Stefan Sagmeister, whose previous design work has included clients such as The Rolling Stones, HBO, and the Guggenheim Museum. We’re thrilled to offer the latest model in the Ressence Collection X here in the HODINKEE Shop.
Sagmeister has reinterpreted the design of the 2013 Ressence Type 3 watch – the first mechanical timepiece ever to be filled with oil. Central to the new design is a theme from Sagmeister’s work that takes the form of three words stated right along the minutes chapter on the Type 3X dial: “Now Is Better.”
Recent events and a news cycle dominated by social media may have cast doubt on such optimistic declarations, but taking the long view, one can see that there have always been trying times throughout human history. And yet, for more and more people in the world, life really is better now than it was 50, 100, or 200 years ago. The perspective of the long-term view is what enables us to see this.
Taking a longer-term view of time and how it unfolds is central to the Type 3X. Take, for example, the unusual date indicator. Whereas the Type 3 showed the date in a familiar numbered format on the very periphery of the dial, the Type 3X has evolved this display to prioritize the gradual waxing and waning of months. Along the edge of the dial, one will see a series of small hash marks, 140 orange or 140 blue. And as each day comes and goes, these marks shift from blue to orange and back to blue, so that there are blue days and orange days. This constant change from day to day serves as a reminder of the continuous passage of time. There is always one hash mark among these shifting colors that contrasts with all the others. This subtle blue or orange mark, which travels the circumference of the dial every 30 days, tells the wearer where the current date is in any given month. When the contrasting hash mark aligns with the 45-minute position, for example, the wearer can quickly see that ¾ of the month has passed. In this way, knowing the exact date takes a bit of a backseat to the longer view of one’s progress through a 30-day month. Both the oil temperature indicator, as seen in the original Type 3, and the display for the day share the same hash marks as the date, and the font for the hour numerals also takes on a distinctive look, with the “10” replaced by Ressence’s tenth-anniversary logo. Visual continuity with the rest of the limited edition Collection comes in the form of a dark olive-green color palette.
As with the original Ressence Type 3, the Type 3X also has a distinctive oil-filled display that results in a water drop dial effect. This makes for a crystal clear display of impressive legibility that takes advantage of the full curvature of the sapphire crystal to impart information. Working with oil required Ressence to create a hermetically sealed two-chamber system. The lower chamber contains the customized automatic movement, and the upper chamber houses the 215-component ROCS system bathing in oil. But how do the two systems interact with each other when they are divided into two separate chambers? For this, Ressence found a solution in the form of magnets. Customarily the bane of mechanical watches, in the case of the Type 3 and Type 3X, magnets connect the movement to the display and make the whole system work. On the titanium caseback, you can see both the Ressence name and that of Stefan Sagmeister.
The redesigned, olive-green toned dial is darkened by the presence of oil in the case and paired with a dark olive-green strap. This, paired with the polished grade-5 titanium case, makes for a watch that instantly recalls the original Type 3, an early and important watch in Ressence’s history. It marked a point when Ressence showed it could succeed at designs that had eluded traditional watchmakers who had been around for many times as long. It excites us as much today as it did seven years ago. For more about the Ressence Type 3X, visit the HODINKEE Shop.
The Ressence Type 3X is available fo purchase today and will ship in mid-December.