Monochrome Watches
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The Ressence Type 1 Squared – A Subtle and Dressier Take on the “Beyond Hands” Concept (Review)

| By Brice Goulard | 7 min read |
Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

When just before the SIHH 2017, we, at the Monochrome redaction, received the news about a new Ressence Type 1, I have to admit that I was personally quite curious. From what I could see on photos, this new “Squared” was clean, more horological, slimmer and with a shape that I love, an elegant cushion. Still, nothing worth a try on the wrist (you can’t imagine how many deceptions I had after strapping on the wrist a watch that I loved on photos). And, oh boys and girls, what a pleasant surprise I had with the Ressence Type 1 Squared…

Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

Until now, the concept of Ressence has always been to put a great emphasize on the dial and the signature “beyond hands” display. Not that the case was inexistent but let’s be clear, it was not the central point of Ressence Watches – at least for the Type 1 and Type 3, as the Type 5 brought the use of a case back on stage. Nothing was clearly referring to a classical case in the Type 1 and Type 3. There was no real caseback – at least not in the way you’re used to have one – and the case was reduced to a simple band of titanium circling the watch. All the rest was sapphire crystal, making these watches quite unique but also a bit far away from the traditional vision of a watch. No complaints from my side here, I love the Type 1 for its minimalistic approach. Still, I can fully understand that this concept was not to everyone’s tastes.

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Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

The Ressence Type 1 Squared is a surprising evolution of the original concept. While many brands go bold after being classical, Ressence does the opposite. They are bringing classical codes back in the Type 1, for a more horological, dressier and slimmer result. This fourth Ressence watch re-materialized the case while still based on the Orbital Convex display. And because of that, this watch is full of contradictions… and that’s why I find it so appealing. It combines a vintage shape with a modern display, it uses traditional watchmaking codes with unique technical solutions, it mixes precious details with an undeniable industrial decorum. There’s nothing properly traditional in this watch. Each detail is unique, different, unusual but still, the overall partition of this Ressence Type 1 Squared becomes more familiar, more reassuring and probably much more understandable for newcomers.

Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

This is all due to the use of a proper case. While the dial and the display are the same as a “standard” Type 1, there’s now a thin but present metal case surrounding the dial, something that clearly change the perception of the watch. The design is based on the junction of 6 circles (4 on a planar perspective, to design the cushion-shape of the case – 2 for the profile of the case). This steel box is balanced, smooth, discreet and at the same time is has enough presence to make the cushion visible. One thing is especially noticeable: the integration of all the elements to create a whole. See, for instance, the curvature of the glass box is the same as the sides of the case, meaning that you’ll have a unique line from one side of the case to the other, without any junction. Same goes for the curvature of the dial, which embrace that from the case. Finally, there’s these lugs that are entirely integrated and not added to the case. Once again, this Ressence Type 1 Squared has been thought as a whole, and not as a dial integrated into a case. Because of that, it feels like a natural development of the original concept.

The other evolution concerns the back of the watch. As you might know, Ressence watches have no crown for setting the time or winding the movement. Everything is operated via a rotatable caseback. To make life easier, the Ressence Type 1 Squared features a small retractable lever, which is definitely easier to actuate than the rotatable sapphire caseback of the Type 1 (the caseback is used to wind the movement and to adjust the time and the date). When setting the time, the rotation of the lever corresponds exactly to the movement of the discs on the dial in a ratio of 1 to 1. Link to that is a welcome update of the ROCS module, with a user-friendly quick day setting (the latter evolution is also available on the original Type 1 models).

Now, as I said, nothing is better than a try on the wrist. And that’s exactly where the Type 1 Squared succeeds. I’ve been wearing all Ressence watches for long periods. I always loved their smoothness and their unique design. Still, I know that in my entourage, some didn’t really understand these timepieces and were pointing the lack of case. With the “Squared”, I find back the pleasure of this unique design, this soft sensation under the fingers when touched but with a major difference in terms of visuals, due to the presence of the case. The watch feels more present while being also more subtle. It is slimmer and at the same time it has more presence on the wrist. In one word, it is more a watch, less of a concept. The addition of a real case makes this watch slightly larger, even if measuring a reasonable 41mm diameter – the wide opening of the dial might virtually enlarge the diameter. Still, it remains perfectly wearable (even for ladies, as some feminine options are also included).

Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

In terms of choices, the Ressence Type 1 Squared is introduced as a entire collection, with 4 options available – silver (not photographed here), blue, anthracite and champagne. Not only the colors are different, but also the finishings used for the discs. The Champagne for instance shows a matte finishing on the main disc, with contrasting brushed rings (with circular graining), the silver and blue have a radial brushing on the small rings while the main disc is circular brushed and finally the dark grey version is entirely circular brushed. In terms of display, we find back what we’ve been used to see with the Type 1. The time is given by a regulator-style display, based on one main disc for the minutes, with a large sub-disc for the hours, a smaller disc for the seconds and a final one for the day of the week. Of course, as every Ressence watch, it takes a short period to get used to this display of the time, but then again, the most important indication (the minute) is read traditionally, on a 60-minute track and doing 1 revolution per hour.

On the upper photo, the watch indicates 9h12. On the photo below, the watch indicates 11h07.

Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

The Ressence Type 1 Squared is powered by the same combination of a modified ETA movement and the in-house ROCS module. This module is affixed on top of a traditional automatic movement that however only drives the minute axis (thus the main and large disc of the display). Once the minute disc is driven, the ROCS will separate the indication of the second and of the hours. With a complex series of gears, the minute will be slowed to create the hour display or accelerate to create the second display. The result is a sort of flat, almost printed like surface displaying the time in a regulator manner. For more, please look at our review of the Type 1.

Ressence Type 1 Squared - SIHH 2017 - Review

I have to admit that I have been extremely pleased by this Ressence Type 1 Squared. While it doesn’t renew the concept of the brand, it brings a serious evolution, some maturity to the idea of the “beyond hands” idea. Again, I love all the contradictions of this watch, which feels traditional and out-of-the-box at the same time. It is a very accomplished timepiece, which shows a perfect execution and an intense reflexion on every details – design, feeling when worn and touched, usability… After an intense creative period, driven mainly by the display, Ressence becomes adult with the “Squared”, but not the adult we hated when we were teenagers.

Specifications of the Ressence Type 1 Squared

  • Case: 41mm diameter x 11.5mm thickness – stainless steel, polished and brushed surfaces – domed sapphire crystal on top, caseback used to set the time and wind the movement – 10m water resistant
  • Movement: customised 2824/2 calibre as a base, additional in-house ROCS module for the display – 36h power reserve – 4Hz frequency – hours, minutes, seconds, date displayed by orbital discs
  • Dial: Convex german silver dial with 3 eccentric biaxial satellites – available in Silver, Ruthenium, Night Blue and Champagne
  • Strap: various leather strap options, including men and women version – steel pin buckle
  • Retail price: 17,500 Euro

2 responses

  1. Brice,

    Thank you for this great review. I have been a huge fan of Ressence since their inception. I find this concept truly different and yet simple, a very minimalistic approach to telling time, that I find refreshing. This new release I find exquisite, except for one aspect, and that is the dial. While I like all color choices, the finishing is what is giving me grief, specifically the circular graining. I think that it cheapens the look of the dial while also making it less legible. The price, I must also admit, is hard to swallow. I think it is a great feat of engineering and design, and I don’t want to take away from the results, the price keeps me away.


  2. Thanks Brice, for such a nice read on my favourite `love to have` watch. it would magically complete my rotation with a sporty, regulator style, blue dialed, stylish luxury watch that is still missing. There is so much effort put into this watch with design and technology that it is truly different and therefore valuable.

    Dear mr Mintiens, i would be honoured to be your brand ambassador if i could have your watch ;-)). Otherwise i will keep on dreaming about it and thats fine too as dreams are priceless !

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