Like a smooth black rounded pebble, the latest Type 3 oil-filled watch abandons all trace of colour and adopts a black DLC-coated titanium case and a black display with white and light grey indications. Ressence’s fascinating display of time in motion now performs in the dark oily waters of an infinity pool. Known as the BBB (black, black, black), Ressence will limit production of the Type 3 BBB until the end of December 2022.
Founded in 2010 by Belgian industrial designer Benoît Mintiens, the brand’s philosophy of “beyond hands” is all about deconstructing and displaying time in a refreshing and dynamic way – without hands. Time literally circles around the dial like planets orbiting the Sun using highly graphic and revolving sub-dials. Nothing is static; everything is in constant motion, like time itself.
One thing is to oil the parts of a watch, another to flood a watch with oil, which is precisely what Ressence did with its Type 3 oil-filled model. Introduced in 2013, the revolutionary Type 3 took home the Horological Revelation prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève that same year. Far from a gimmick to create headlines, the concept of introducing oil inside the display area of a watch was to counter the phenomenon of optical distortion. Elementary physics asserts that the refraction of light as it moves from one substance to another – from air to sapphire crystal, for example – can distort perception. Divers often complain about this optical distortion that hampers legibility, a common problem shared by almost all mechanical dive watches. To cancel this distorting effect, the upper half of the Type 3 watch is filled with 35.7mg of oil. The result is heightened clarity and legibility from all possible angles and enhanced mechanical performance thanks to the reduced friction. And because the Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) – the patented 215-part mechanism that keeps the indications in motion – is bathed in oil, it is constantly lubricated. One thing led to another, and having established that plunging the watch into water produced no reflections, Mintiens went on to develop the Type 5 dive watch proving that water and oil do mix at Ressence.
time in a black bubble
Like earlier editions of this model, the Ressence Type 3 BBB is sandwiched between two bubble-like sapphire crystals that give the watch its smooth, pebble-like appeal. Technically speaking, there are two domed anti-reflective sapphire crystals affixed to the central case protecting the two separate sealed chambers. And for the first time in the Type 3 family, the titanium case features a black DLC polished coating to match the glossy sapphire crystal. With no crown to hamper the sleek and pure design aesthetics, the watch is wound and set by rotating the caseback in different directions. With a diameter of 44m and a thickness of 15mm, the Type 3 is water-resistant to just 30m and weighs just 79 grams.
Several changes have been made to the Type 3 dial to highlight the new monochromatic look. The most obvious is the elimination of colour, leaving only white and light grey for the indications. Another design touch to underscore the minimalist mood of the dial is the removal of the running seconds indicator and the minute markers for a cleaner, starker appeal. The third differentiating factor regards the Super-LumiNova that has changed from blue to green.
Time in perpetual motion
The spellbinding rotation of the various elements on the dial is animated by Ressence’s patented ROCS unit, which is housed in the oil-filled upper half of the dial. Thanks to the oil, the convex dial is legible from every possible angle, and the indications appear to be suspended magically on the underside of the sapphire crystal. The illusion that the indications are so close to the surface, that there is nothing between you and the watch is another optical illusion. Oil and glass share very similar responses to light refraction, and when the space between the dial and glass is filled with oil, the eye is tricked into momentarily losing its depth perception.
The indications – three of which are eccentric biaxial satellites – are displayed as follows: the longest white hand on the dial points to the minutes on the edge of the dial (track now eliminated but 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 indicated with white Arabic numerals); the hours are displayed in a circle with the Ressence hand logo at 12 o’clock; the days of the week are in a small counter composed of six light grey segments, the largest open segment corresponds to the weekend; the date is positioned on the sloping sides of the dial and line up against a static triangle at 6 o’clock; and the oil temperature is indicated by another small counter with five grey segments representing 0 to 50°C.
Given that both chambers are hermetically sealed to avoid oil leaking into the lower dry half with the movement, the question is, how does the ROCS display get the energy necessary to perform its orbital dance? Ressence has devised an ingenious magnetic transmission system connecting several micro-magnets in the oil-filled upper chamber and lower dry chamber with the movement. One pole of the magnetic module is attached to the movement and driven by the minute axle; the other pole is attached underneath the ROCS display module and drives the display. To compensate for the fluctuations in the volume of oil due to changes in temperature, the watch has seven small bellows that expand and contract (relayed on the temperature gauge on the dial). Composed of 215 parts, the gears in the ROCS calculate the hours, day and date, taking only the minute as a reference from the automatic movement.
Below the sapphire caseback is a customised ETA 2824/2 automatic movement with a frequency of 28,800vph and a power reserve of 36 hours. The sole purpose for such a straightforward but reliable movement is for the minute axle to drive the complex Ressence Orbital Convex System.
Availability & Price
The 3 BBB comes on an anthracite strap (22/22mm) with an embossed honeycomb pattern and a black DLC-coated titanium pin buckle. The Ressence Type 3 BBB is not limited in number but will only be produced until 31 December 2022. The retail price is CHF 36,500 (excl.tax).
More information at Ressencewatches.com.