Why I Bought It: Ressence Type 2 e-Crown
Over my many years as a watch collector, I have been exclusively interested in classic brands with long histories and traditional styles of watchmaking. But I recently embraced a fairly new watch brand, one with little history and a very forward-thinking, rather than classical, style of watchmaking: Ressence.
And I have done more than just embraced Ressence: remarkably, I put my money down and bought one of this brand’s watches, a Type 2 e-Crown.
Ressence is a cool Belgian watch brand founded by Benoît Mintiens that recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The Ressence head office is in Antwerp, where Mintiens’ ideas come to life and the first sketches are made. The production of the brand’s five collections are completely undertaken in Switzerland.
Ressence stands for very modern design coupled with a unique way of reading the time. All models have dials that slowly revolve and are constantly in motion, providing a different view every time you look at these watches.
This concept is found throughout the whole Ressence collection and is not based on an invention from the past. Mintiens’ way of looking at watches, however, is love or hate as his brand has such a different and unique approach.
Looking at the watches, one can clearly see that Mintiens has a background in industrial design. Even the smallest detail has been thought through. Everything is designed in a discrete and stylish manner. No huge brand name on the dial, just a small logo shaped like a hand that is also visible on the pin buckle.
The modern typeface used, the way the hands are painted on the disks, and the fact that most of the watches have no date all help to create a serene look. The design of a Ressence watch says something about both creator and wearer.
I find Ressence watches stylish and eye catching, but not obviously so.
A word on the Ressence mechanics
Ressence watches have unusual dials without conventional rotating hands. The Ressence Orbital Convex System – simply called ROCS – is a highly complex mechanical module featuring a series of nested convex disks mounted on satellite gears, which rotate around a central axis. Both the dial rotates as do the subdials within the dial.
Domed subdials (flat would be too easy) are inset into a larger domed dial, all rotating 360 degrees thanks to an internal planetary gear system (see specifics on the assembly of the domed dial in How Do They Do That? The Ressence Type 3). The ROCS assembly is a difficult mechanism to make as each dial is tilted between 9.75 and 17 degrees. Additionally, the Type 2 sees accommodation of the e-Crown electronics so it can run fully mechanically, but also be manipulated by the electronic system.
Ressence watches have no crowns; instead there is a lever on the back, recessed into the case, for winding the caliber and setting the time.
Why I bought the Ressence Type 2 e-Crown
While I have followed the brand since the first model, it was the Type 2 e-Crown – Ressence’s high-end model – that made me finally decide to go for the brand.
From a visual point of view, the Type 2 shares the amazing clean look that all other Ressence models have, but the e-Crown takes it a step further.
As well as being a two time zone watch with automatic winding, the Type 2 e-Crown packs some serious intelligence that makes it extremely convenient for setting the two time zones. This can be done on the Ressence app (iPhone or Android) instead of using the lever on the back. But more on that later; I’ll go through the movement first.
The Ressence Type 2 is equipped with a customized and ever-reliable ETA 2892/A, which has proven to be one of the most reliable movements in the world for more than 25 years. This caliber has often been imitated, but never improved. So why try to develop something similar and make the watch more costly when the best solution is already available? For Ressence, reliable operation is what counts most.
I personally have experienced the ETA 2892/A as a trouble-free caliber over many years and I see this movement as ideal as the basis for such a complicated movement as we have here.
It is a great pity that it is often thought that the Ressence Type 2 is a watch that completely depends on the iPhone (or Android) app. This is the biggest misconception since its introduction, and the opposite is true!
The app is only an extra to make the time setting easier and faster. The operation of the watch is fully mechanical and does not rely on a cell phone or electronics at all. The Ressence Type 2 does not communicate or interact with its app during daily operation. I repeat: it’s fully mechanical.
Every operation the wearer performs using the lever on the back – like setting the time and selecting time zones – can be accomplished faster and much more easily with the app. But only if the owner so chooses.
How setting the Ressence Type 2 e-Crown works
Setting the reference time is important, and this is the first thing that needs to be done once you take possession of your watch. This time is stored in the Type 2’s electronic memory as a reference.
Once that is done, tapping on the glass twice when the watch is horizontal (on the wrist or on a flat surface) is enough to inform the watch to prepare for a command.
One more tap on the glass allows you to browse through one of the four functions: e-Crown off, Time Zone One (yellow), Time Zone Two (green), and Bluetooth (blue). As soon as the watch is set to Bluetooth, it connects to the mobile phone.
The home time and second time zone can now be set by choosing a city in the menu, after which that choice is sent to the watch’s memory. The Type 2 automatically sets the time correctly and switches off Bluetooth. The same can now be done with the other time zone.
From here on, switching between the two time zones is done just by tapping on the timepiece’s crystal; the app is not even necessary anymore!
The app is only used to set the time zones in the watch’s memory if you prefer not to use the lever on the back. The battery percentage and the watch’s performance can be checked here as well. If there is no mobile phone handy, all these watch functions can be performed manually using the lever on the back.
The Type 2 is equipped with an automatic caliber with a power reserve of 36 hours. In case the Type 2 is set to “e-Crown off,” and the watch hasn’t been worn for the whole weekend, the watch stops after about 36 hours and has to be wound just like any other automatic timepiece.
But winding a Type 2 and setting the time isn’t necessary when the e-Crown is set to the “on” position. If the e-Crown is turned on and the Type 2 is stored in your drawer, the watch will continue running for another 12 hours, after which the spring barrel is stopped from turning by the e-Crown, effectively “shutting down” the watch and saving the mainspring’s energy.
The seconds are stopped and the hands move to the 12 o’clock position, which signifies that the watch is now in hibernation. This ensures that the Type 2 will keep the rest of its accumulated power reserve until you put it on your wrist again. After a weekend, a month, or even three months, when worn again the watch will automatically reset to the correct time and begin to use its “stored time” within a few seconds and continue running with the accumulated reserve.
This means that the time on a Type 2 never needs to be reset – except when it is time to switch from summer to winter time (or vice versa). And a planned future firmware version will also automate this.
Waking the watch from its sleep and switching between the different functions does use energy as the entire display revolves until the desired time has been reached. The power for this is stored in batteries charged by a photovoltaic cell under the dial.
As soon as the energy in the cell has decreased to about 30 percent, ten small, really cool-looking blinds in the dial open. That’s the sign that the battery needs to be charged again. The supplied LightPod charger that comes with the Type 2 offers an easy solution: it is actually no more than a small light that you shine on the watch so the openings in the dial can absorb the energy.
To power the charger, I use my iPad adapter since my older iPhone adapter does not provide enough energy to feed the watch fast enough. No power adapter is included, but any USB-C adapter will work.
How often the charging needs to be done depends entirely on how often the functions are used. During the first weeks, when one is inevitably demonstrating the features to friends, the power supply will drain a lot faster than after a few weeks when the watch is worn in normal daily life.
Should the Type 2 run out of energy completely, the watch will keep on running like any other automatic timepiece. Switching between time zones then just needs to be done manually.
I love the amazing wrist presence of the Type 2. The case measures 45 mm, which sounds large but due to the very short lugs, the watch wears like a 42 mm IWC Portugieser on my 18-centimeter wrist. With a weight of just 52 grams thanks to the titanium case, the Type 2 is really light.
I hardly feel it and the watch barely moves on my wrist, even when it is worn a bit more loosely. Legibility is amazing. From any angle the hands are visible and easy to read. In low-light circumstances the engraved indications filled with grade A Super-LumiNova certainly help.
But what I like most is the interaction I have with this amazing, automatic time machine with a brain.
The final version of the Type 2 arrived at Ressence dealers in 2020, and the blue, grey, and black versions are now available. I highly recommend checking out this über cool watch in person since words and even videos can’t do justice to a Ressence Type 2.
For more information, please visit www.ressencewatches.com/watches/type-2.
Quick Facts Ressence Type 2 e-Crown
Case: 45 x 12 mm, grade 5 titanium, 52 grams in weight
Dial: available in grey, blue, or black (with PVD-coated titanium case)
Movement: modified automatic ETA Caliber 2892/A with patented ROCS module and patented e-Crown mechanism, 36 hours power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; e-Crown functions: mode selector, second time zone, world time, mechanical power saver, self-setting, time monitoring
Price: CHF 44,500 (excl. taxes)