Ressence is one of the most innovative of independent watch brands, and even though their watches are expensive by almost any measure, they are worth taking a serious look at by anyone interested in genuinely new technology in watchmaking. Their e-Crown system, which allows a watch to always be set to the correct time, and have an effectively infinite power reserve, is like nothing else on the market. And their modern dial design is one of a kind as well, placing all time telling elements in the same plane for a drastically different reading of the time. They’re a favorite brand around here not just because the watches are aesthetically compelling, but because they strive to really push the envelope in what we think a mechanical watch can be.
At Watches & Wonders this year, Ressence introduced the newest entry in their Type 2 collection, the Type 2N Night Blue. Ressence’s Type 2 watches utilize their proprietary e-Crown system, but before we get to that, a quick review of the Ressence dial layout is in order. Unlike a traditional watch that tells time via the use of hands mounted from a central location, Ressence watches employ a series of spinning discs representing hours, minutes and seconds, that enable an intuitive reading of the time and a dial of great visual interest that is constantly in motion. What appears to be an hours “subdial” is actually a disc that’s set within the larger minutes disc, and both of these discs rotate around the dial pointing to the correct time without overlapping. This Ressence developed system is referred to as ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System) and is very much the brand’s trademark.
The ROCS system is the heart of every Ressence watch, but the Type 2 watches with their e-Crown have an even niftier party trick. The e-Crown seeks to marry mechanical and electronic timekeeping components in a way that is completely novel, and it functions in a way that’s surprisingly straightforward. Type2 watches, like other watches made by Ressence, are set via a lever built into the caseback. Once the watch is set, tapping on the crystal activates the electronic e-Crown functionality, which then stores the correct time in memory. Once the watch is off the wrist (and the automatic winding rotor stops spinning) the watch effectively powers down before depleting its power reserve. When you then put the watch back on, the system remembers the correct time, and if everything has worked properly it automatically resets the watch. The implication here is that as long as the e-Crown system is functional, the Type 2N never needs to be wound or set.
There have been other systems (like Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive) that seek to combine the best elements of mechanical and quartz timekeeping, but the e-Crown system is a little different. Timekeeping is completely mechanical – this is a “normal” automatic movement (heavily modified to work with the ROCS system), but through some clever technology Ressence has created an automatic that has the grab and go convenience of a quartz watch. Imagine something like this in the context of a large watch collection (if you’re spending $49,500 on this thing, chances are you’ve got some other watches). You could rotate through dozens of watches, taking almost as much time as you want between wears of the Type 2N, and still pick it up and get an accurate read of the time without any additional input. The e-Crown system is light powered, so as long as you keep this outside the back of a sock drawer, it’s memory will be long lasting. And if for some reason the electronics do fail, the Type 2N is completely functional without the e-Crown enabled (and it can be turned off by the user with some taps on the crystal).
The Type 2N Night Blue is the third watch to use the e-Crown system, and amounts to a new variant in the series. The case is made from polished titanium, and in addition to the updated dial color, elements of the typography have been tweaked as well for this edition. When Ressence launched this technology as a concept in 2018 and then with full production models in 2019 it was something of a risk – to that point no one had proven that high end watch collectors were interested in this type of technology. The fact that Ressence has launched a third version of the watch in a relatively short span of time would seem to bode well for the e-Crown being used in future watches, and for further innovation down the line from Ressence. Ressence