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The Ressence combination of innovation, intuition and design is making an enduring mark on the watchmaking landscape of the 21st century. And the market, retailers and customers approve. A brand with a difference, a breath of fresh air.

Not everything is equally obvious to everyone. For some, the most obvious thing of all is to present time in a conventional way, precisely because this type of display (with two or three central hands) has dominated for 250 years. An approach that is both useful and efficient. However, an equally obvious problem arises when a brand stakes a claim on a new kind of watchmaking … but offers nothing new. Not everyone can be part of the new wave.

But Benoît Mintiens is not about making waves. He is the man who created Ressence in 2010. He is a young, Belgian industrial designer – a far cry from the classic image of watchmakers hunched over benches against a snowy backdrop. It is precisely because of his difference that Mintiens was able to succeed where so many others have failed: to come up with a breakthrough that remains intuitive, a concept that became a brand, a product that became a series of collections. And ultimately, the brand’s aesthetic and technical coherence took root deep in the minds of enlightened amateurs.

Ressence

Silence is golden

The basic principle of Ressence is not so far removed from traditional watchmaking, with dials, counters, rotation and hands. Except in one respect: the hands are no ordinary hands – they are carried by the dials. At Ressence, everything is motion. No more fixed dials and moving hands: everything turns. Just like the movement of the stars.

With this concept of perpetual mobility, the brand has been able to innovate and attract the public and retailers who, quite simply, had long since ceased to expect anything like this. The new experience of time according to Ressence – more intuitive, more functional, more playful, more pure – truly hit the mark.

Benoît Mintiens charted an unwavering course for the next four years. His original and unique display has established itself as the brand’s trademark. The designer avoided a trap that’s often fatal for start-ups, that of spreading himself too thinly: Ressence worked on its ranges patiently and with disarming ease. Types 1, 3 and 5 came in a swift succession, hammering out a watchmaking formula that has never lost sight of its distinctiveness. Every piece is distinguished by a softly curved case with a design devoid of a crown. At Ressence, adjustments and winding systems are driven by the caseback, via a ring that turns in both directions. The timepiece is powered by the ROCS, Ressence Orbital Convex System. Designed and developed in-house, this complication is composed of toothed wheels and differently-sized disks, curved to mould to the arc of the glass that covers them.

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A brand of the future

With the basics firmly in place, the brand continued its steady pursuit of innovation by unveiling an audacious cushion case (models Type 12) inspired by watchmaking tradition, but reinterpreted. Self-assured, and supported by its customers and some early adopter retailers, Ressence has registered as many milestones as patents (six innovations), even to the point of submerging its dial in oil. Where many a watchmaker would have given up, Mintiens simply smiled: there is no better magnifying glass than an aqueous liquid. Simply put, rather than working on anti-reflective lenses, it’s better to remove reflections in the first place. As you can imagine, the watchmaking industry of the 21st century will certainly not be the same as in past centuries. In this sense, Ressence is a brand of the future; and unquestionably represents a breath of fresh air in the world of high watchmaking.

Ressence Type 1 Slim X
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A specialist in watchmaking journalism, Michel is the founder of The Next Hour. Fascinated by the fundamental issues related to communication and social networks, convinced that watchmaking still has a very large audience to capture beyond the circle of connoisseurs, he launched The Next Hour to chart a course and make this medium a fun and informative meeting place of quality. Michel is also a member of the Cultural Council of the Fondation de la Haute horlogerie and a member of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Academy.