Exploring Ressence As A Cartier Collector
Many watch enthusiasts have several watches from different brands and buy what they find attractive. Others stick to one brand and are more likely to buy multiple models. I’m afraid I belong to the latter group. That doesn’t mean that I’m oblivious to what’s happening in the world of watches, but as such a one-brand follower or collector, I wondered for quite some time how my growing love for the Ressence brand could happen. After all, I really see myself as a Cartier nerd, and as such, I express myself carefully.
I have been a big fan of that historical Maison since the ’80s when I bought the Santos. I follow the brand as close as possible, and I will certainly remain a Cartier freak/fanatic for years to come. So with traditional tastes like mine, what about a brand like Ressence? How does it fit into my daily life?
What attracted me to the Ressence concept
My obsession with the brand has probably a lot to do with my background as a graphic designer and my endless search for objects that are perfectly designed. Whether that’s a pencil sharpener or an egg timer, it just has to look good. Dieter Rams, who for years was responsible for the famous designs of Braun, was one of my favorite industrial designers. And let’s not forget David Lewis, who created many products for B&O in the ’60s. While most of my colleagues at PolyGram, the company where I used to work, were working with IBM computers, I convinced my boss to get me an Apple, not because it was that much better, but because it was so simple to use, more logical, and very good looking.
Ressence was founded in 2010 by industrial designer Benoît Mintiens. Contrary to several other newer companies, Ressence didn’t lean on a vintage name, a mysterious history, or connections with any other watch brand. And the way Ressence makes its watches, especially in terms of design and all the small details, fully corresponds to my taste and drive for perfection. There are no dial-polluting date windows and no unneccesary text like “Automatic” written on the dial. In fact, Ressence doesn’t even put its own name on the dial. Instead, the brand chooses to just have its tiny, smart-looking logo. The fact that the watches are a different world compared to traditional brands like Cartier, Patek Philippe, or Vacheron Constantin is what fascinated me enormously.
A good first impression
When Ressence introduced one of its first watches, the Series One, I was immediately interested in the brand’s concept. The hands-on display, the absence of any traditional hands at all, and the dial that displayed a different picture every time appealed a lot to me. And despite the fact that the model was pretty affordable at that time, I still didn’t bite. For a long time, I wondered why not. Only years later did I finally realize it had to do with the crown, despite how well-designed it was.
When the founder and designer of the brand, Benoît Mintiens, decided to adjust the caliber so that the crown could be replaced with a lever at the back to wind the watch and set the time, I was sold. For me, Ressence had achieved ultimate simplicity and symmetry, and the visual balance was now just perfect. The Squared version of the Type 1 appealed to me first. The slim square-yet-round shape has a great wrist presence and is easy to wear for both men and women. The model has, by Ressence standards, a fairly flat case and crystal, and the entire watch slides easily under the cuffs of my shirt. The official diameter of 41mm and height of 11mm wear smaller than one might expect.
Ressence Type 1 Squared
My Type 1, which dates back to 2016, comes from the first Squared collection and still has a steel case. The current cases, however, are Grade 5 titanium, which is, of course, so much nicer to wear than steel. What I find a fun and creative feature of the Type 1 models (and the Type 3 also) is the cool day indicator.
At first, you may wonder what it actually does, but soon, it becomes clear that it shows the day of the week. The two small unfilled windows are for Saturday and Sunday, and the other five filled windows are for the weekdays. Besides the hand indicating what day it is, it also shows if it is AM or PM. The exact position to which it points — the beginning, middle, or end of the window — indicates whether it is daytime or nighttime. Once the wearer winds and sets the watch correctly, there is no need to worry about it anymore. The automatic caliber with a power reserve of 36 hours keeps the watch running, and there is no date to reset at the end of the month.
How the caliber works
Ressence watches do have hands, but they are actually not traditional hands but painted ones. Each has its own round disc that rotates to show the exact second, minute, and hour. These three turning discs are located within the round dial, which is also a disc that makes a full rotation every hour. And that explains why Ressence watches have a different dial whenever you check the time. To make this moving spectacle possible, Ressence had to create a unique caliber. And instead of unnecessarily reinventing a base movement, the brand works with the stable and trusty ETA 2892/A, which the Ressence watchmakers strip down and modify completely.
Ressence has now been using its patented ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System) for over 10 years. The brand adjusts and expands the basic caliber every time it launches a new and more complex model, like the Type 2, Type 3, and Type 5.
As you noticed from the pictures and my comments on the watch, it’s pretty much the opposite of what I’m wearing most days of my life. And that’s exactly why I find Ressence such a wonderful and innovative brand. There is nothing with which to compare it to Cartier because both brands are in a world by themselves. Benoît Mintiens started, created, and went his own way with Ressence without looking around to check out the latest trends and preferences among the watch community. And that may be why I admire Ressence as a brand so much and why I never get tired of this smart-looking concept.
To find out more, visit ressencewatches.com. What are your thoughts on Ressence? Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments.