Let me introduce you to a very unusual and highly innovative timepiece from a Belgian watch brand; it is quite possibly most legible watches there is: the Ressence Type 3. A liquid-filled mechanical watch without a crown the Ressence Type 3, designed by Benoit Mintiens looks like the dial has actually been embedded into the sapphire. Thats because where there is usually air between the dial and sapphire crystal a clear refractive liquid has replaced it, consequently as Ressence says “The Ressence Type 3 transports time from the dial to the crystal.“
Ressence Type 3 – Case
The Ressence Type 3 has a case that is 44mm wide and made apart from a small section in titanium almost entirely of sapphire crystal. “The indications and their mechanisms are mounted inside a bubble crafted from extremely tough, anti-reflective sapphire crystal”
With no crown the watch is adjusted by going to the case back, when the Type 3 is inverted a gravitational gearing system disconnects the time. It is wound by turning the sapphire caseback and various “quadrants” are used instead of crown positions. For example, the hour is set by starting from the neutral position and turning in the direction indicated , and you use a longer rotation through 200° to arrive at the date quadrant and change it.
The removal of the crown is part of Ressence’s quest for simplicity. This quest for pared-down design includes the process of dematerialising the timepiece; a process illustrated by the elimination of traditional hands and by the invisible fluid technology used to project the indications.
Ressence Type 3 – Dial
Also part of this quest is the elimination of traditional watch hands and instead employing a series of rotating indications that all orbit in tandem around the face -its something that is best understood and appreciated by seeing it. Not only does the whole dial rotate but so do the individual sub-dials, its quite a spectacle to see in motion. There are no traditional hands but dials that have had indicators printed on them which rotate, these display hours, minutes, seconds and days. Days are indicated around the dials peripherary, and hours in a small sub-dial while minutes are indicated using the long hand. The seconds are shown on a disc that rotates over a six minute period – in order to conserve power for the multi-disc dial system. All dial elements have been treated with DLC (diamond-like carbon)
The whole design is very high contrast and extremely legible as a result, and it has been accented nicely with splashes of orange to add a little colour. All the engraved indexes and hands have been filled with super-luminova. Because the entire display is bathed in fluid that refracts light like air the indications appear to be projected onto the sapphire crystal.
Ressence Type 3 – Movement
The Type 3 consists of two individually sealed chambers, one containing the movement and one with the time indicating parts and filled with naphtha-type liquid which is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbons.
Expansion or contraction of the liquid due to the ambient temperature is compensated for through use of a thermal valve. The display is controlled by the movement below through the use of an extremely complex magnetic transmission system using magnets of various strengths positioned at various angles.
This modified movement starts as an ETA 2824-2, but it is altered almost to the point of being unrecognizable. Because of the convex shape of the Type 3, all of the axes on which the dials’ discs rotate must be at angles perpendicular to the surface at their center, requiring the axels of the various gear trains to be tilted appropriately. For instance the angle of the satellite indications is approximately 3° for the hours and 4.75° for the seconds.
With the exception of the gears all the components are titanium and the patented display system consists of 28 gears and 57 jewels (out of 82 jewels in total).
Ressence Type 3 – Conclusion and Price
The Ressence Type 3 is a timepiece with unique technical and aesthetic features that completely breaks with the traditional constraints of watch design and is quite a a feat of horology. Through the use of its innovative way of telling time it pioneers engineering on a micro scale and is guaranteed to delight those who love sophisticated design combined with perfect technical mastery. It is priced at $34,000 USD.
More resources about the Ressence Type 3 available on Hodinkee (Live Pics), and aBlogToWatch (Hands-On).
And on the Official Ressence Website.