Our watchmaker Romain had the pleasure of asking a few questions to Benoît Mintiens, founder of Ressence, to help you discover or rediscover this atypical watch brand.
In a few words, can you tell us what Ressence is, including why this name and this logo?
The name RESSENCE comes from Renaissance de l'Essentiel (Rebirth of essentials). The essential part of a watch is the time display, so a Ressence watch expresses time in a new way. The logo, an outstretched hand, symbolises the relationship to time, the relationship to the product and is also a nod to the brand's Antwerp origins. In Dutch the name of the city is Antwerpen. A legend from the Middle Ages explains that the name of the city comes from Hand (hand) Werpen (throw). The rest of the story involves a lot of bloodshed, as was often the case during that period of history…
Your approach to watchmaking is quite different, can you explain how you apply it to your products?
I am not a watchmaker, but an industrial designer by training. Before launching Ressence I worked as an industrial design consultant. For a watchmaker, who is almost always behind the founding of a watch brand, the movement forms the heart of his project; whereas for a designer, the starting point is the person who will wear the watch. The movement becomes a means and not an end in itself. The result is thus bound to be very different.
At first glance, Ressence watches are striking because one looks for hands but does not find them: why this choice of time display?
The hands are in fact extremely legible. The dial of a Ressence watch is in perpetual motion, symbolising the passing of time. Due to the architecture of our watches, the surface available to you on your wrist is maximised to highlight the displays. A Ressence is read in the same way as a normal watch, i.e. we use the same hierarchies and reading angles. A Ressence dial has been scientifically proven to offer a more ergonomic read-off than a traditional watch with hands.
From a technical point of view, the driving system you have named ROCS is absolutely unique, could you briefly describe the working principle?
ROCS stands for Ressence Orbital Convex System. The patented system is based on a coplanar disc principle. All time dimensions are displayed on the same plane, with interlocking discs forming the dial and the overall system rotating to indicate the time.
The Type 3 and Type 5 models have a rather surprising feature that appeals to many of our customers and gives it a smartwatch look: a watch filled with oil? How and why?
As you can see, Ressence places the user at the centre of its developments. Given that telling the time is the primary function of the watch, this functional aspect plays an important role in our research. By introducing oil into the watch, the sapphire crystal becomes a (mechanical) screen. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of a digital screen which is based on a similar principle. This technology has also enabled us to create the first diving watch that is perfectly readable underwater. No mechanical watch is more readable underwater than a Type 5.
We have sensed that Ressence is an innovative force and offers a different take on watchmaking. The Type 2 seems to be a UFO for many collectors; can you describe your vision for developing such a watch?
The Type 2 is in my (admittedly biased) opinion the most technologically innovative watch on the market. It is equipped with a patented technology that we call eCrown. Simply put, eCrown is an automated crown, meaning that it sets the time for you. eCrown is also equipped with a motion sensor and when you are not wearing the watch, eCrown will activate the stop-seconds function. As soon as you put the watch back on your wrist, the watch will automatically reset itself. It does all this while remaining 100% mechanical, like all our watches.
The latest release, Type 8, is a perfect illustration of the “Less is more” concept. What will be next; can you reveal what More or Less might imply in the future of Ressence?
The Type 8 is indeed the essence of the Ressence concept. It is difficult to make it simpler and more resolutely Ressence. Ressence may not be Swiss, but our watches definitely are… and that’s all I can share for now.