Celebrating ten years of genuinely innovative watchmaking, Ressence revisits its oil-filled Type 3 watch and delivers a message of hope in these days of gloom and doom provoked by the pandemic. With a new dial designed by Stefan Sagmeister and the words “Now is Better” displayed on the minutes track, the Ressence Type 3X is a limited edition and marks the third piece out of four in the Collection X series. Designed to commemorate the brand’s tenth birthday, the Collection X series has already welcomed the Type 5X and the Type 1 Slim X models.
Type 3 Touching Time
Ressence is a truly unique brand; its watches are unlike anything on the watchmaking scene. Ressence combines fine mechanical watchmaking with attractive designs and innovative 21st-century mechanical solutions. Founded in 2010 by Belgian industrial designer Benoît Mintiens, his philosophy of “beyond hands” is all about deconstructing and displaying time in a refreshing and dynamic way – without hands. Using highly graphic and revolving sub-dials, time literally circles around the dial like planets orbiting the Sun. Nothing is static; everything is in constant motion, like time itself.
The Type 3 oil-filled model was introduced in 2013 and took home the Horological Revelation prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève that same year. The motivation behind introducing oil inside a watch was to create the clearest display possible and foster a unique sensation that there was nothing (no crystal) between you and the watch, almost like touching an immutable drop of water.
Elementary physics proves 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 flooded 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. Because the Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) is bathed in oil, it is constantly lubricated. Friction is lowered between the parts, and seven bellows compensate for changes in oil volume caused by changes in temperature.
Years of R&D went into Type 3 that combined its patented Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) in the upper oil-filled section with a magnetic transmission in the dry lower half. Obviously, you can’t have oil flooding the movement, so both chambers are hermetically sealed. The link between the two chambers – or the way the automatic movement is connected to the display – is through the ingenious magnetic transmission system devised by Ressence. Brice’s detailed coverage of the impressive micromechanics will give you a real feel for the challenges and solutions adopted by Ressence during the development of Type 3.
Time in motion by Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister is a renowned New York-based graphic designer and has designed album covers for Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, David Byrne and won Grammy awards for his original packaging. The new dial design of the Type 3X responds to Stefan Sagmeister’s larger project of looking at global development with a long-term perspective and acknowledging that many things are getting better: people are living longer, more people can read and write, fewer people die in wars, a vaccine for Covid-19 is on the horizon, etc.
However, what concerns us today is the new dial. Those of you familiar with the original Type 3 know that the convex dial features a prominent white hand for the minutes and four eccentric biaxial revolving satellites – or sub-dials – indicating the hours, the days of the week, a temperature gauge for the oil, and a runner (180 seconds).
Starting from the outermost point, the numbers of the original date ring have been substituted with 280 coloured lines: 140 blue and 140 orange lines. A superimposed grid means that the user can only see one of the two colours at any given time. At midnight, the colour changes from orange to blue or from blue to orange. One of these 140 lines has an inverted colour. If 139 lines are orange, one will be blue. The inverted colour is the date indicator, and it rotates around the dial in 30 days. If the inverted marker is positioned at 15 minutes, for example, a quarter of the month has elapsed, if it’s positioned at 30 minutes, half a month has elapsed. Not the most accurate way to consult the date, it is Sagmeister’s way of providing users with a longer perspective of time.
The day of the week and oil temperature sub-dials share the same lines as the date, and the peripheral minutes track bears the ‘Now is Better’ adage filled with Super-LumiNova. Stefan Sagmeister has also redesigned the hour dial with a different font for the numerals although the hallmark Ressence hand logo has not been touched. The convex dial displays an olive-green colour that darkens with the presence of oil, and for the first time, the Type 3 has a sealed caseback made in grade 5 titanium. Not only does this make the watch slimmer, but it sits better on the wrist.
Like previous Type 3 watches, the protagonist is the impressive domed sapphire crystal that rises up to protect the kinetic dial and gives the watch its smooth, pebble-like appeal. With practically no external case elements, the sleek and pure design aesthetics are enhanced by the absence of a crown. By rotating the caseback in one direction, you can wind the watch, in the other direction, the time can be set.
With its impressive micromechanical solutions and 376 parts, it might come as a surprise that the movement powering the Type 3 is in fact a customised ETA 2824/2. The sole purpose of this reliable automatic movement is to drive the minute axle that in turn drives the patented Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS). Beating at 28,800vph, the movement can provide a power reserve of 36 hours.
Availability & price
The Ressence Type 3X comes with a green leather strap (22/22mm) with a titanium ardillon buckle. The watch is limited to 40 pieces and retails for EUR 42,000 (incl. tax).
More information at Ressence Watches.