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The Ressence Type 2: Not a smartwatch, but a smart watch nonetheless

The humble crown gets an infusion of smarts in this self-adjusting mechanical watch.

It’s safe to say that smartwatches have successfully integrated themselves into modern life, but that technology hasn’t been able to make as many inroads into the luxury watch market. It’s perfectly understandable; the whole point of mechanical watches is to appreciate its non-digital smarts. Which is what makes the Ressence Type 2 so ingenious: It kept the smart tech out of the movement and put it where it would actually be useful – on the crown.

Created in collaboration with Silicon Valley legend Tony Fadell, also known as the father of the Apple iPod, Ressence’s “e-Crown” can automatically set and adjust the time. The wearer need only set the time manually once (via a lever on the back of the watch) and the e-Crown will check against it at least once a day and make corrections if necessary.

(Photo: Ressence)

“The crown is a separate mechanism from the movement; it is on standby until pulled and I wanted to keep this principle,” said Ressence founder Benoit Mintiens. “A mechanical watch must stay mechanical, we’re not here to create a Frankenstein.”

As promised, the self-winding ETA 2892 calibre driving the watch remains entirely mechanical. But to make things just a little more convenient, a companion smartphone app will enable the setting of additional timezones thanks to a scroll-down list of cities, as well as monitor the e-Crown’s power.

(Photo: Ressence)

This power is derived from both kinetic and solar energy. A capacitor siphons some of the power generated by the rotor but can also receive solar energy through apertures around the dial and hour and function subdials that will charge the photovoltaic cells beneath.

This clever, 87-part electrical component is sandwiched between the movement and the brand’s signature rotating satellite discs, the Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS). If no movement is detected for more than 12 hours, the e-Crown will go into sleep mode and stop the seconds to conserve whatever torque is left in the barrel. The system will continue to keep time in this mode and once awakened – by a quick double tap to the crystal – the crown will reset the watch to the right time and the movement will start to run again.

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The smooth, pebble-like case is crafted from titanium, in either grey or black. It measures 45mm in diameter and a slim 12mm in height. Those who enjoy the contemporary designs of Ressence watches but want nothing to do its digital supplement can actually turn the e-Crown off by selecting mechanical mode. A single tap will cycle between four modes: Mechanical mode, e-Crown mode, and two separate time zones.

But a digitally wary demographic doesn’t daunt Minitiens. “We are convinced a new breed of people are entering the market, the digital natives, and this generation expects much more from products. So we are trying to make mechanical watches that are smart.”

(Photo: Ressence)

Isolating a non-movement-related component and adding smart technology is not a new idea. Montblanc was similarly inspired when it launched its smart E-Strap a few years ago. But it’s an idea that would open up a world of possibilities in the field.

“We intend to continue with what we have invented and patented. Not restraining yourself to one vision often brings the biggest breakthroughs,” added Minitiens. “Just look at how adding the Internet to a mobile phone created a digital revolution. Combing separate technologies will bring forth a new and unforeseen world, and it will be a smarter one.”

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Source: CNA/ds