If you remember, back in December 2015, when Benoît Mintiens (the founder of Ressence) showed me the Ressence Type 5 for the first time, I actually ended my article with a wish to have this watch as my summer watch. The team of Ressence heard my wish and granted it so here we are, with my review of this great, sort of unique watch, which I’ve been wearing for an entire summer. Usually I tend to be rather technical and factual in my reviews, but here I’m going to be slightly more focused on the wearability and on the feelings, trying to position myself as the owner of this watch. Here are my thoughts after my summer with the Ressence Type 5 on the wrist.
Apart from the sensations of wearing such a watch, there’s something more I wanted to check. Something intrigued me when the watch was launched. Actually, it was said to be a dive watch, with zero reflection under water. Indeed, most, if not all the watches have this same issue under water: their dial, under certain angles, transform into a perfect mirror, becoming impossible to read. The main selling argument of the Ressence Type 5 was that it should never have this issue. Knowing quite a lot about watches and having experienced this issue myself, I wanted to be sure that it was not again a marketing argument – even if, between you and me, Ressence is clearly not the type of manufacture to fool you with unfounded arguments. However, this capacity of being legible in all angles under water had to be tested.
So, here we are today, putting myself in the position of a future owner of this watch, and experiencing like most of them will this Ressence Type 5. Why not being technical this time? First of all, this watch has been explained extensively here, in our introducing review. Then, later this year, we will be technical, and we’ll review the Ressence Type 3, as well as explaining to you how the mechanics in these watches actually work. We’ll look at the “Beyond hands” concept, at the module that drives this unique display (the ROCS) and at the idea of an oil-filled watch. All of which must be explained separately. Why? Well, to be clear, Ressence watches – the Type 1 and even more the Type 3 and 5 – are some of the most intriguing, yet technically innovative timepieces of the recent years. Their concept is unique, unseen and perfectly horological. It thus deserves special attention.
The Ressence Type 5, the natural evolution of a concept
When you look at the Ressence Type 5 next to the previous creation of the brand, the Ressence Type 3, there’s undoubtedly a familiarity, a strong resemblance and an undeniable lineage. The Type 5 keeps this sort of organic feel, this same pebble design and the display that makes Ressence so special. The Type 5 feels like the natural extension of a concept. In fact, it is born from an unexpected discovery (sort of…). When developing the Ressence Type 3, Benoît Mintiens figured out that when this watch was plunged under water, thanks to its dial filled with oil, there was absolutely zero reflection on the dial, whatever angle you choose to look at the watch. The extension of the concept to a dive watch was thus totally natural.
The idea was then to transform the Type 3 into a sport / dive watch. The result is a timepiece that feels more horological than the previous one. The presence of real lugs (and not a wire attachment device like in the Type 1 and 3), the rotating bezel, the overall shape of the case are closer to the traditional codes of watchmaking. There’s more technicality in this watch and its looks become sportier, simply because it had to – dive watches must fulfill certain rules and technical features to be granted so.
Is the Ressence Type 5 really a Dive Watch?
Before answering the question, we have to briefly look at what a dive watch is. A dive watch is not just a name you can give to a watch like that. Dive watches are defined by certain rules, very precise ones in fact, based on the ISO 6425 standard. To summarize, a dive watch is a timepiece with a minimum 100m water resistance, a strong legibility under water, a resistance to a specific condensation test, the presence of a time-preselecting device (for example a unidirectional rotating bezel), an indication that the watch is running (a second hand, most of the time)… More details here for the ISO 6425 standard. Anyway, what is important to say here is that the Ressence Type 5 does fulfill all these requirements, which is a good starting point.
Beyond standards, there’s the reality. First of all, please do not consider the 100m water resistance as an issue. If you’re in the 0,1% of watch collectors who actually dive under 100m or more, you’ll probably look at something a bit more technical (a Deepsea from Rolex or A Seiko 1000m). The Ressence has enough water resistance for most of the recreational divers – and honestly, professional divers use professional equipment. Debate solved. Then, this watch definitely have all the ingredients of a good dive watch: a 60min diving bezel, unidirectional, with 5min marking and a 15min scale. It has 60 clicks, it is legible and precise. Then, it has a locking device – just like dive watches that have a screw down crown, but here there’s no crown; the caseback is the setting device, and it is lockable. One more point. Comfort is perfect, the case is titanium (corrosion resistant, light, scratch-resistant…). Plus points again and again.
Then there’s the dial. Legibility is actually very good, considering the pitch-black dial with highly-contrasted indexes and hands. In day-time, the readability is superb (once you’re used to the display, which in all honestly, will take you 5 minutes). At night or in low light conditions, the legibility is also very good. All the indexes, tracks, hands and indications of the dial are actually coated with luminous paint. Actually, there’s one small fault here. There are too many indications that are visible in low light – but that’s a detail. One point again.
The final positive argument comes from the display. The Ressence Type 5 actually has a regulator-style display, with separated indications for the hours and minutes. The unexpected benefit is actually that, the Type 5 gives a clear view on the most important indication of a dive watch; the minute hand – divers will tell you, the minute hand is the one. Here, the minute hand is the largest and the clearest. Bonus point… Altogether, yes, the Ressence Type 5 is a dive watch, with a stupendous amount of technology, a superb design and a unique display… and something more – the extra-bonus point.
Does it really have zero reflection under water?
When introduced, the punchline of the Ressence Type 5 was “the first mechanical watch to be perfectly readable underwater regardless of the viewing angle” – in other words, this watch is said to have zero reflection under water. People who dive know that a watch is readable under water only when looked straight in the dial. Once you observe it from a grazing angle, the dial shows strong distortions before becoming like a mirror, with no possibility to actually read the time. You’ll admit, this could be quite problematic. The Type 5 is said to solve this issue. With our usual curiosity, we couldn’t resist to test it.
“Mirror effect” on a traditional dive watch – perfect legibility on the Type 5
I’m not a diver but a swimming pool was more than enough to perform the test and, well, the photos talk for themselves. I tried in all possible positions and yes: THE RESSENCE TYPE 5 REALLY HAVE ZERO REFLECTION UNDER WATER. This is possible because there’s no air in-between the dial and the crystal – it is the air contained in the watch that actually creates these distortions. Because the Ressence Type 5 (and by extension its older sister the Type 3) is filled with oil, it both creates a screen-like display in normal conditions and prevents all kinds of distortions and “mirror effect” while under water. It is brilliant, just brilliant.
Using the Ressence Type 5 during summer
Once again, I’m not a diver – I leave that to our contributor Ilias. Thus, I’ve been experiencing this watch in a way I’ll call a SUW – a Sport Utility Watch, a sort of analogy with SUV cars, which could be used for everything from going to seaside to parking in front of a club. I had the Ressence Type 5 on my wrist for all kinds of summer activities (pool, boat, clubs and just pure relaxing). It was actually never defeated. Besides its complex display (Based on the ROCS system), with a two-part case (with the top part being an hermetically sealed container filled with oil, the second comprises the movement, both linked by magnetic system… not that usual, you’ll admit), the Type 5 is a solid watch. It is also a surprisingly comfortable piece of independent watchmaking. It measures 46mm in diameter but wears like a 42mm. The lugs are so short that you actually can’t feel the watch on the wrist.
Then, there’s the attention this watch gets. It is a conversation magnet. Everybody I’ve met looked at it and immediately knew that it was not a regular piece. The first comment comes from this sensation to have a screen. It is almost like if the indications were printed on the dial. The second comments were about the display, and once you rotate the caseback to adjust the time, you’ll draw stars in the eyes of these people.
Finally, there’s the daily use and wearability of this watch. As you’ve seen, the Type 5 actually doesn’t have a crown. The caseback is used both for winding and setting the time of the watch. Water resistance is ensured by the Ressence Compression Lock System, or RCLS, a device to lock and compress the gasket, with two positions, ‘lock’ and ‘set’. This absence of crown linked to the relative lightweight of the watch (87 grams) makes it extremely comfortable on the wrist, as actually nothing comes to hurt the skin. The Type 5 is certainly one of the smoothest watch I ever experienced, both on my wrist and under my fingers (there’s something quite pleasing in touching that rounded, smooth crystal).
Overall, the Type 5 is a pleasure to wear and a watch that has superior resistance and diving capacity – and as such, it is a perfect summer / leisure / weekend watch for those interested in technology and innovative watchmaking. The idea, the concept and the execution are brilliant, period! End of discussion!
Once again, the idea was not to talk mechanics here. For that, you’ll have this article about the Type 5 and all other articles about Ressence here – and later, we’ll go technical, no worries. Instead, i tried to give you my thoughts about wearing this watch, like an owner would do. I must say, I was expecting a lot. And I must admit, nothing in this watch disappointed me – properly nothing. Of course, as always, nothing is perfect. I think the night-time readability is a bit messy (too many indications are actually luminous) and the locking device on the back is quite difficult to unlock – which is however quite reassuring for water resistance. However, we’re talking details here and overall, it is such a pleasure to combine the great innovations of this brand with a watch that can be used during summer, and not only to show-off at a beach-club.
The Type 5 is surprisingly toolish and does not lie: it is a solid sports watch, it does have zero reflection underwater and it can be used as a dive watch. The evolution of the Ressence concept is enormous and at the same time, it remains so close from where it comes from. I think you guessed the closing words of this review: I love the Ressence Type 5. Price: 28,500 Swiss Francs (ex. taxes) or 31,500 Euros (inc. taxes). More details on ressencewatches.com.
The Ressence Type 5 is in the final pre-selected watches that will concur at the GPHG 2016, in the “Sports” category, alongside 5 other watches – see the entire selection of watches here. Needless to say that considering the other watches in this category, the competition will be difficult. The Type 5 has strong arguments though, with its unique display and of the “zero reflection” concept.
You can also vote for the “public prize”. If, like us, you love the Type 5, do not hesitate to vote here.
Specifications of the Ressence Type 5
- Case: 46mm diameter – grade 5 titanium – sapphire crystal on the front – 100m water resistant
- Movement: base ETA 2824, Ressence Orbital Convex System to display the time – automatic winding – 36h power reserve – 28,800 vibrations/h – Central minutes, off-centered hours, runner (indication of the good run), temperature gauge
- Strap: black barenia leather on pink-buckle and additional black nylon strap (for diving purposes)