Watchmaking, generally, is a practice rooted in history and tradition. The horological techniques developed by the old Swiss masters in the French-speaking region of the Jura Mountains have largely endured, and have given fine watches a pedigree of luxury that goes well beyond a mere accessory. Still, that doesn’t mean things in the watch world don’t benefit from the occasional shakeup, which is where Ressence comes in.
Founded in 2010 by Mr Benoît Mintiens, Ressence is a portmanteau of renaissance and essence. It’s an apposite name for a brand that takes the traditions and precision of Swiss watchmaking (the “essence”, if you like), and mixes them with unparalleled innovation and an unorthodox approach that has sometimes shocked – but ultimately delighted – the watch world. This perhaps comes from the fact that Antwerp-based Mr Mintiens was an industrial designer before he was a watchmaker (although, make no mistake, he is brilliantly gifted at both). Mr Mintiens uses his expertise in design efficiency – he has previously turned his hand to push-chairs, vacuum cleaners and train interiors – to offer a new perspective to the sometimes backward-looking fine-watch industry and beam it into the 21st century.
So, what does this concoction of progressive, efficient design and historical Swiss expertise look like in practice? All Ressence watches are based on Swiss-made ETA movements (the gold standard in Swiss watchmaking), and have a number of USPs that set them apart from other fine watchmakers on the market. A Ressence watch has no hands, a crownless face and a floating dial that counts the days as well as the seconds, minutes and hours, and is designed to sit as comfortably on the wrist as possible. It is at once a luxury timepiece and a technical marvel, and is worn by Silicon Valley’s elite as much as it is by old-school watch buffs impressed by its marrying of technique and tradition. In this sense, a Ressence might just be the watch of the future.