Anyone who has ever been mesmerized by a mechanical model of the solar system will understand the intrigue of a Ressence watch. Its smaller faces perform a similar mechanical rotation around each other. The effect is engineering and gears and part dance. Those seeing it for the first time remark first that that each dial stays upright the entire time. Such is the design illusion achieved via a little material wizardry. 


About the Ressence Watch


Belgian industrial designer Benoît Mintiens launched Ressence as a luxury watch manufacturer in 2010.  Mintiens presented three prototypes of his Ressence watch concept at the 2010 Baselworld international watch and jewelry trade show held in Basel, Switzerland. This annual convention attracts some 2,000 exhibitors and more than 90,000 visitors from around the world.

Ressence Watch Arms Orbit Rather than Sweep

Ressence Type 5G Mechanical (Automatic) Grey Dial Mens Watch Type 5G (Certified Pre-Owned)

image source: Amazon

We will try and fail to describe the movement of a Ressence watch face. Every review of this watch suggests seeing it for yourself. 

 

The first initial impression is that the Ressence watch face glides across the surface of the sapphire crystal. So much so that it seems you could touch the dials. This is due to a unique mineral oil construction that places the face directly against the sapphire's underside, without the discernable gap traditionally left in watches to allow arms to sweep around the face.

The second impression is that the Ressence watch arms orbit each other rather than sweep. The whole face circle rotates, with an etched minute hand pointing to the numbers emblazoned on the watch's exterior. Embedded in this face are three separate, smaller faces, indicating seconds, hours, and day. As the minute face turns, each of these smaller faces glide with it as they each turn independently, giving the same impression as a mechanical solar system.

Produced In Extremely Limited Editions

In 2016, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie recognized Ressence watches for their technical and excellence standards in raising watchmaking to the level of applied art. The Fondation was founded by an international consortium of fine watchmakers to further the historical heritage of the skill and craft of making luxury timepieces.


Every minute detail of a Ressence watch is hand-attended, from the mechanical interior to the finishes of every surface, inside and out. The watches are 100% mechanical with the entire back sapphire serving as a winding mechanism and a means of setting the watch. Each Ressence watch is produced in extremely limited editions; usually fewer than 20.

ressence type 5g watch

image source: Amazon

Product Specs

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The Ressence Watch Type 1 (part number T1PW) is a 42 millimeter case diameter men's analog watch with automatic self-wind. The innovative orbiting face dials display seconds, minutes, hours, and day of the week. The unique animated movement floats in mineral oil, giving all visible indicators  a gliding-like motion. Each face dial remains upright as they all rotate around the face. The watchmaker's impressive engineering accomplishes this with only 208 individual parts. It has a milled titanium case and sapphire crystals front and back.

 

Pricing  

The Ressence Watch Type 1 we reviewed here can be found on Amazon (when it can be found at all) for around $20,000.00.

How It Compares


The Ressence watch is so exclusive that it was a challenge to find comparable watches from other makers. Do you consider uniqueness? Functionality? Ruggedness? Beauty? To put our comparisons on even ground, we started with a price range. Since the Ressence Watch Type 1 is currently available an Amazon for approximately $20,000.00, we started by looking at similarly-priced models by other watchmakers respected in Haute Horlogerie circles. We then narrowed our selection by only considering watches with comparable levels of engineering, functionality, and finish.

  • Breitling Transocean Mechanical (Automatic) Black Dial Mens Watch
  • Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Silver Dial Chronograph
  • Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Black Dial Chronograph
  • Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Steel Men's Watch

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Features

42 millimeter diameter milled titanium case; waterproof; displays seconds, minutes, hours, and day of week.

 

Design

Extremely clean design; exquisite animated face and engineering recognized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

 

Warranty 

Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.

PROS

  • Extremely limited edition already shown to increase in value
  • Unique face/movement design
  • Modern design approach with old-school aesthetics makes for a unique showcase timepiece

CONS

  • Extremely limited edition may cause you to store it more than wear it
  • Not yet proven to withstand the intended rugged use of other watches on the list
  • Relatively new watchmaker lacks the long history of comparable makes

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This is a Breitling Transocean Mechanical (automatic winding mechanism) Chronograph QP Limited Edition (one of 25) in Rose Gold in like new condition. The watch is offered as certified pre-owned and operates according to manufacturer's specifications without any additional service. The case is 43 millimeters diameter and the strap is brown alligator with a rose gold buckle. All papers and original box are included.

 

Features 

Functions are seconds, minutes, hours, day, date, month, moon phase, and chronograph.

 

Design    

Though a limited edition presented in Rose Gold, Breitlings are known for their rugged usefulness, especially among pilots. The full spectrum of functions on this watch will make you want to wear it not just to show off, but to time your landings, takeoffs, and in-air maneuvers.

 

Warranty                                  **

15 months from seller.

PROS

  • The limited edition status of this watch has already increased its value
  • Masculine appearance in its size and visual functionality
  • Breitling's long history of producing rugged, useable timepieces

CONS

  • Though like new and warrantied, this is not a new timepiece
  • The value of the watch and the usefulness of its features will lead to struggles about wearing it
  • Though highly functional, not as unique as the Ressence watch

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This Swiss-made Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre is housed in a polished 18kt gold features a 41 millimeter diameter case, and features a fixed bezel with silver dial and gold-tone hands and index hour markers. Embedded in the face are date display, two 30-minute and one 12-hour sub dials. The watch is water resistant at 330 feet. It is rugged functionality in a dress watch style.

 

Features

Features include tachymeter, chronograph, date, hour, minute, second; scratch-resistant crystal.

 

Design 

As pretty as the Ressence watch, but in a classic design with much more functionality.

 

Warranty                             

Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.

PROS

  • Less expensive than the other watches on our list (though that is relative)
  • Excellent functionality; this watch could be used to time your next automobile race
  • Simple elegance stands shoulder to shoulder with the Ressence

CONS

  • Not a limited edition, so not at the same level of collectability as other watches we consider here

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Swiss-made Omega is James Bond's watch of choice. The Speedmaster Moonwatch is housed in an 44.25 millimeter casing with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and an 18 kt gold case with a black alligator strap. The black dial lends an air of formality, while the gold hands and index hour markers contrast this with understated luxury. Features include a date display, two 60-second and one 12-hour chronograph indicators. The watch is water resistant to 330 feet.

 

Features                            

Functions include chronograph, date, hour, minute, and second; automatic winding.

 

Design             

Though Omega is known for rugged functionality, the use of gold on this model leans it into a serious luxury presentation.

 

Warranty                     

Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer

PROS

  • Leans toward rugged functionality for those seeking that style
  • Omegas are known for holding their value over time
  • Tell time like James Bond

CONS

  • Not as collectible as others on our list, as it is not a limited edition
  • The gold leans luxury in a way that detracts some from its rugged reputation

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This is where we find a significant differentiation from our Ressence watch approach. Where the Ressence watch presents graceful elegance, the Rolex pushes for rugged masculinity; even a difference approach to simplicity. The 40 millimeter Stainless steel case, Tachymeter bezel, and oyster bracelet give this the ambiance of a metal bracelet rather than the softness of a watch case paired with a leather band. Additionally, the Rolex is renowned for its ruggedness, reliability, and as an heirloom-style collectable handed down within families.

 

Features   

Chronometer, cosmograph, scratch-resistant sapphire; Swiss-style automatic winding mechanism.

 

Design      

Contrasts with the elegance of the Ressence, but makes the most unique statement on our list.

 

Warranty                                

Lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.

PROS

  • The brand defines cachet in watches
  • Rolexes are known for holding their value in both a financial sense, but also in sentiment
  • Rolex quality is second to none; this is a useable watch

CONS

  • Not a limited edition, so not as collectible as others on the list
  • Rolex style doesn't fit every male's style; may be too rugged for some
  • Practical, rather than elegant

Conclusion


After conducting the research for this collectible watch evaluation, we found ourselves torn in two directions by two completely different aesthetics. There is no argument that each watch on our list deserves its status and the price it commands on the market. The engineering, the design, and the watchmaker's reputation put them there. Each would be a beautiful statement of prestige on our wrist. Each has an element of practical usability: even while it is a collectible piece, we would be inclined to keep in a safe or safe deposit box. However, there was a practicality consideration that split our notion of practicality.

The Art vs. Practical Dichotomy of a Collectible Watch

couple wearing watches

image source: Unsplash

The Ressence watch and the Rolex represent our two extremes. Though the underlying engineering is impressive, the Ressence seems like a work of art meant to be displayed in a case and occasionally worn on a very special occasion along with a tuxedo. The watchmaker's approach of creating extremely limited editions compounds this feeling. It is almost art masquerading as a practical device. We might think differently if they produced a line of less-exclusive watches that we would be less scared to wear on a regular basis. 

 

The Rolex, which showcases an equal level of engineering prowess and wearer prestige, feels reversed: it is a practical device raised to the level of art. As valuable as it is, the Rolex feels like you could, in fact, wear it with whatever you happened to be doing that day. An occasional nick or ding might even add to its sentimental value. 

 

Were we in the market, we would be tempted to get both the Ressence and the Rolex. After all, we play may roles in our lives. One side of us wants to showcase amazing, cutting-edge artwork and fascinating gadgetry on our wrist. But when we are going sailing, or flying our sport plane, or attending our child's soap box derby--any place where we might actually need to withstand the elements and possibly use the chronograph features--that is when we want the Rolex. So it comes down to a tie between a nighttime “showcase” watch and a daytime “working” watch.

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