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This independent Belgian-designed and Swiss-made brand is known for its distinctive minimalist design language, and three unique features in particular: oil-filled dials, a patented orbital disc system that displays the time without hands, and a lack of visible crown.

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    Established in 2010 by Belgian industrial designer Benoît Mintiens, Ressence has quickly gained recognition for its innovative contributions to the world of horology: namely, an orbital disc system in lieu of traditional hands, oil-filled dials that make the time appear like it’s right up against the crystal, and crownless time-setting.

    Ressence Type One watches

    Using modified ETA movements, Ressence is proof that watch brands don’t need in-house movements to make horological innovations and appeal to collectors at prices well into five figures.

    So how do the hands work? (Or lack thereof)

    The Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS), featured on all Ressence watches, uses discs instead of traditional hands. So, each subdial is essentially a disc with a line on it. Simple enough. The most interesting aspect of the design language is that the entire dial is the minute disc. Thus, the hour and seconds subdials themselves rotate around the dial once per hour.

    Ressencewatches.com allows us to preview how different times would be displayed. For example:

    Ressence time display example

    About Ressence’s Oil-Filled Dials

    Looking at a Ressence dial might leave you wondering how exactly they make the dial “pop” like they do. The time display looks like it’s right on top of the watch. This neat trick is accomplished by literally filling the top half of the watch with a transparent oil that has the same refractive index as the sapphire crystal. Since obviously the movement itself couldn’t function when submerged in oil, its half is kept enclosed–the discs on the upper half are moved via magnetic transmission.

    “A magnetic transmission connects the dry lower half – where the calibre is located – to the oil-filled upper half – where the ROCS is located.”


    How do you set the time without a crown?

    The caseback. This is a key aspect of the Ressence Orbital Convex System–instead of a crown, the user simply rotates the caseback to set the time. We’re warned to “Turn slowly when setting and winding.”

    Ressence has also introduced an “e-Crown” system for its Type 2 model. It enables owners to quickly set the time using a Ressence app via Bluetooth.

    How much does a Ressence cost?

    The MSRP of the simplest and cheapest Ressence–the Type 8–is about $14,000. The most expensive Ressence, the Type 2 with eCrown functionality, has a list price of over $50,000. Secondhand prices are generally pretty close to retail, but there aren’t many for sale!

    Ressence Watch Specs

    ModelRelease YearCase MaterialCase DiameterCase ThicknessRemarksMSRP
    Zero Series2011Stainless Steel or Grade 5 Titanium42mm14mmLimited Edition (50 Pieces), winding crownDiscontinued
    Series One2012Aluminum Alloy or Grade 5 Titanium42mm14mmLimited Edition (150 Pieces), winding crownDiscontinued
    Type 32013Grade 5 Titanium44mm15mmFirst oil-filled dial, first crownless model. Day and date functions.38,200 CHF
    Type 12014Grade 5 Titanium42mm13mm, then 11.5mmConvex German silver dial or skeletonized dialDiscontinued
    Type 52015Grade 5 Titanium46mm15.5mmOil-filled dial, dive bezel (100m rating)30,800 CHF
    Type 1²2017Grade 5 Titanium42mm11mmSquared (cushion) case16,800 CHF
    Type 22018Grade 5 Titanium45mm12mme-Crown functionality46,800 CHF
    Type 1 Slim2019Grade 5 Titanium42mm11mmSlightly thinner. Sometimes called “Type 1S”Discontinued
    Type 82022Grade 5 Titanium42.9mm11mmOil-filled dial, only hours and minutes12,500 CHF
    Type 1 Round2023Grade 5 Titanium42.7mm11mmWire lugs16,800 CHF
    Ressence watch models and specifications