The first ever self-setting mechanical watch.
It’s rare that you get something truly new in mechanical watchmaking, but this is just that. With this concept watch (ie, it’s not for sale and is proof of concept for a future commercially available piece), Ressence is introducing its e-Crown technology. What’s that, you ask? It’s an electronic system that sits between the fully mechanical movement and the ROCS display disc system, allowing the watch to self-adjust to new timezones, be set from a smartphone, and even reset after the power reserve is wound down – if your watch winds down, you just pick it up, tap it on the crystal, and you’re back to the right time without having to fiddle with the setting mechanism on the watch’s rear. This is a distinctly 21st-century take on watchmaking and one that is going to be interesting for years to come.
Why This Watch Matters
We’ve seen just a small handful of brands try with any real gusto to integrate digital technologies and traditional watchmaking. F.P. Journe created a similar automatic reset mechanism for his Élegante line a few years ago, but those were quartz movements, not mechanical ones. And Urwerk has its EMC watches, which measure their own performance but can’t automatically adjust based on the results.
Working with Tony Fadell (who you might know as the designer of the iPod, the founder of Nest, and a noted Talking Watches guest), Ressence has gone a few steps further than anyone else thinking in this direction. The idea is that you initially set the Type 2 e-Crown Concept using the mechanical mechanism on the watch’s rear, and then you never need to touch that again (unless you want to, of course – this is a mechanical watch and that system will always work). After that, you can use a paired down iPhone app to adjust to one of two timezones and you can have the watch automatically reset to the correct time after its power reserve winds down. The details have all been thought through as well, with the intermediary mechanism powering itself both kinetically and through 10 tiny photovoltaic cells hidden behind the dial. If you don’t wear the watch and the battery runs below 50%, 10 little shutters open up to reveal the cells and gather light for energy (you can also open these manually via the app). The watch even automatically adjusts for Daylight Savings time, so no worries there either.
I’m not going to mince words here. I love this watch, both in theory and in execution. Ressence is going out on a limb and doing something that most of the traditional watch industry would scoff at without a second thought, and doing it to the extreme, with tons of care and thought. If the mechanical watches we know and love are going to survive well into the 21st century, they’re going to have to find new ways to appeal to consumers and collectors, and they’re going to have to evolve in certain ways. This is a really interesting way to create a genuinely better user experience – never having to fiddle with your watch after a few days without it – and isn’t just a thought experiment for its own sake.
Explaining this watch with a few supplied images and information from a press release (and an hour-long conversation with Ressence’s founder Benoît Mintiens to make sure I understood the finer details) is all good and well, but this is something that requires a much deeper hands-on look, for sure. Stay tuned and we’ll have a live, in-depth account of this watch from Geneva very shortly.
Model: Type 2 e-Crown Concept
Case Material: Titanium
Dial Color: Titanium
Strap/Bracelet: Grey nylon strap
Caliber: New Concept Movement with ROCS and e-Crown systems
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, mode selector, e-Crown setting functions
Additional Details: Specific details of the movement are being kept quiet for now, as this is still a concept watch
Pricing & Availability
Price: None Available – This is a concept watch that is not for sale.
Availability: A production version of the Type 2 will debut later in 2018.