I don’t know about you, but I’m a music fan. In particular, I prefer rock and metal music. As a guitar player, I love music that’s driven by the sweet sound of distorted riffs and crunchy solos. Naturally, growing up as a guitar-loving teenager, I found my way to the music of Metallica and “The Black Album”. The album sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week, hitting No. 1 in 10 countries and topping the Billboard 200 for four weeks. It was a career-defining achievement for the band. Why is this relevant? Well, today, Belgian independent brand Ressence is releasing its Type 3BBB, a new version of the award-winning model. And this watch is, in my opinion, its Black Album.

The Type 3BBB is a continuation of the evolution expressed by the brand’s Type 3B and Type 3BB. The watch is the ultimate monochrome execution of the revolutionary oil-filled mechanical watch that Ressence first launched back in 2013. The name stands for “Black, Black, Black” in reference to the blacker-than-black color scheme of the watch. What’s more, the Type 3BBB is a limited-production model, and Ressence will produce it for just one year, ending on December 31st, 2022. Let’s take a closer look at why “Nothing Else Matters” (see what I did there?).

The Type 3BBB follows the blueprint

As you’d expect, the Type 3BBB follows the Type 3 blueprint. It has the signature crownless case design and edge-to-edge sapphire crystals found on both the dial side and the back of the watch. The pebble-shaped Type 3BBB features a polished black DLC-coated titanium case — a first for the Type 3. From the front, the watch could perhaps be mistaken for one of these new-fangled smartwatches that we love to hate so much. Some people may like that look, but I can understand why some more ‘Holier Than Thou’ folks may not approve. But, it has to be said that smartwatches often have an innate ability to display a lot of different information legibly.

Ressence has made several changes to the Type 3 dial for maximum impact. The dial indicators are now monochromatic, stripped of color, leaving only white and light grey to contrast with the black background. When a dial has a lot of information to display, it can create a “Struggle Within”. To create a little breathing room on a relatively busy dial, Ressence removed the running seconds indicator. The result leaves the dial looking like a mashup of the Type 3 and the original Type 1, and I dig it. Finally, nighttime legibility comes courtesy of green Super-LumiNova rather than the usual blue.

What makes Ressence so special?

Aside from the regulator-type method of time display, what makes Ressence watches special? Well, that secret lies in the peculiar oil-filled dial. Ressence designed the Type 3 with a waterdrop-like effect to achieve crystal-clear dial legibility for the wearer. The brand did this using basic scientific principles. Because oil and glass have a very similar refractive index, when the space between dial and glass is filled with oil, the eye is tricked into losing its depth perception. The result is that the watch’s dial seems impossibly close, as if it’s printed on the underside of the crystal or like some kind of LCD. The visual effect is even more pronounced when the crystal is domed, and you can view the dial from an impossibly sharp side-on angle.

Dipping my fingers in the liquid-filled world…

This effect really is quite fantastic to see firsthand. If you get the chance to see it, I recommend you do so. As a fun side-story/anecdote, I became fascinated by this effect a couple of years ago. I found stories on watch forums of people modding quartz watches and filling them with an electronically inert liquid (3M Fluorinert). The effect was very similar, and I undertook one such little mod project myself. I still have that watch and wear it fairly regularly! I’m not suggesting you go out and fill the first quartz watch you find. However, there are some excellent reading materials out there, and it could be a fun project to try at some point! Be aware, though, the Fluorinert is not particularly cheap to get hold of… “Sad But True”.

How does the Type 3BBB work its wizardry?

Of course, the Type 3BBB is not a quartz watch; it uses a mechanical movement. Immersing an automatic movement in oil creates an obvious problem given the escapement’s inability to oscillate properly in a viscous fluid. So, how did Ressence overcome this challenge? It designed a clever dual-chamber system to keep the mechanical movement and oil separated. The lower chamber contains the customized automatic ETA 2824 movement, and the upper chamber is hermetically sealed with Ressence’s Orbital Convex System (ROCS) display module immersed in oil. However, this solution also creates a further conundrum.

Magnets in a watch?! What is this sorcery?

There is no mechanical connection between the movement and the upper display module with the dual-chamber system. The Type 3 uses a simple magnetic transmission to link the modules together to accommodate this disconnect. I know what you’re thinking — “Magnets in a watch?! What is this sorcery?” This is achieved by connecting several carefully positioned micro-magnets and aligning them in both the oil-filled upper chamber and the dry lower chamber. All this while being careful not to let them interfere with the movement’s balance. It sounds both elementary and incredibly complicated, and it is. There’s a reason watch enthusiasts have long been enamored by Ressence’s watches.

Instructions on rear

Flipping the watch over reveals the DLC-coated closed case back. The high-contrast white text shows the user how to use the crownless mechanism to set the time, date, and wind the watch. Additionally, there’s an important note regarding operating temperatures. Ressence recommends keeping the watch between 10 and 40°C and protecting it what the brand calls “violent accelerations”. Finally, the Type 3BBB comes on an anthracite honeycomb-like strap, previously found on Ressence’s Type 2A. The strap perfectly complements the all-out, “black attack” color scheme, and from my albeit limited past experience with these straps, they are incredibly comfortable.

Whether or not you agree with my earlier statement about this watch being Ressence’s “Black Album”, I hope you agree it’s a fantastic-looking watch. For me, I have long admired Ressence’s work, but the Type 3BBB is the one for me, “Wherever I May Roam”! You can find out more about the Type 3BBB on the official Ressence website.

Follow me on Instagram: @davesergeant | @fratellowatches

Watch specifications

Type 3BBB
Convex grade 5 titanium dial (125mm radius) with 4 eccentric biaxial satellites inclined at 3°(hours), 4.75° (week days and thermal gauge), and 6.25° (stabilizer). Engraved indications filled with green Superluminova
Case Material
Grade 5 titanium with polished black dlc coating
Case Dimensions
44mm (diameter) × 15 mm (thickness)
Case Back
Closed DLC Grade 5 Titanium
Patented ROCS 3 - Ressence Orbital Convex System - driven by the minute axle of a specially customized 2824/2 caliber. Caseback winding and time setting, magnetic Transmission, and compensating bellow system for the oil (7 bellows)
Water Resistance
30 meters (3 ATM)
Anthracite Honeycomb strap (22/22mm) with an Ardillon Buckle in grade 5 titanium with polished black DLC coating
Hours, Minutes, Week days, Date, and Oil Temperature
CHF 36’500 (taxes excluded)