Founded in 2010, Ressence is a brand which satiated an underserved segment. Taking a very mechanical, very analogue method of time keeping and displaying time in a thoroughly futuristic almost digital way. As a result, Ressence is to watchmaking what Pebble was to Silicon Valley, an innovative horological start-up with industrial “Apple-like” design philosophy and a clear 21st century graphic aesthetic. Unsurprisingly, the Ressence Type 1 Squared launched at SIHH 2017, seven years into the brand’s inception is faithful to the DNA of the original Ressence Type 1.
Where the Ressence Type 1² or Type 1 Squared differs is that it’s the first cushion shaped watch for the brand. It’s also the thinnest and thus it stands distinctly from the rest of the collection in its design; furthermore, integrated lugs and an user-friendly bracelet system which debuted on the Type 3 makes the Ressence Type 1 Squared the dressiest watch from the brand ever.
The Case, Dial and Hands
In case you’re unfamiliar, Ressence’s key calling card and signature style has been minimise the case and place great emphasis on the dial. Right up till the Type 1 Square, the point of Ressence Watches was to always pay attention to the dial with all distractions like a crown and bezel either hidden on the caseback or reduced to a small a bit of titanium which served as the mid-case. The entire watch was minimalist save for the sapphire crystal.
Thus, it can be said that Ressence Type 1 Squared is an evolution of the original concept, while it doesn’t completely depart from its roots, the addition of the case results in a watch that while more rooted in traditional watchmaking codes, still keeps to the raison d’etre of the brand – its space age Orbital Convex display. The apparent contradiction makes for a delicious contrast – a thoroughly classic horological construct with a face for the future: the Type 1 Squared uses the same orbital time-telling system as its predecessors – a revolutionary display for its modern flat design pointer system while making it’s way through an ever changing rotation of watch faces; tantamount to having a different watch across multiple points of time in a day.
The case is industrially finished to match the futurist aesthetic of the dial but still kept to slim, smooth and subtle dimensions while still retaining enough wrist presence to turn heads, but arguably, given the attractiveness of such a unique watch face, it’s hard to be sure. That said, the curvature of the dial blending seamlessly into the cushion case combined with the integrated lugs all serve to make the watch noticeably dressier. Over all, it feels like a logical evolution rather than a gimmick.
Also making a return is the crown free aesthetic, the Ressence Type 1 Square eschews the side crown for time setting and manual winding on the rotatable caseback. In an act of thoughtful functionality, the back features an integrated, retractable lever which makes the watch easier to use than the original editions of the Type 1 which used a rotatable sapphire caseback instead.
The movement of the Ressence Type 1 Square uses a base ETA 2824/2 calibre and while for most of our reviews, this is usually a section where we discuss the merits of calibre finishing and architecture, the innovativeness of the Type 1 Squared (and all Ressence watches in general) means that the unique 3D time display module takes a greater place of horological interest.
ROCS or Ressence Orbital Convex System expresses the conceptual genius of Ressence: discs forming the dial and convex due to the way the face is sensuously curved and tremendously organic. Yet, despite its modern design, the system is thoroughly mechanical.
ROCS blends the different time displays from hour subdial to seconds all on top of a fixed dial which is a completely animated mono-surfaced display. It’s definitely a traditional dial, merely interpreted different. The result is improved legibility and ergonomics. As far as independent watches go, the Ressence definitely stands apart from most if not all brands. Still, it’s an acquired taste for traditionalists.
Ressence Type 1 Squared Concluding Thoughts
I feel that USD 20,600 is an acceptable price to pay for a timepiece which can be counted upon to give you a different perspective of time at any given time of the day. At 11.5mm thin, it is Ressence slimmest watch yet while integrated lugs make the 41mm timepiece wear smaller than you would imagine.
The uniqueness of the ROCS system cannot be understated nor is the extreme detail which went into conceptualising an intuitive manner of reading time. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, the MB&F Frog still counts among my favourite watches but I still find time reading on it a matter which requires concentration; and then there are watches (like those from Seven Friday) which force you to read time by using mathematics and following an “addition principle” – no thanks. I prefer my watches clean, distinctive and easy to read.