Friday, April 05, 2013

Refractionary Thinking

The Ressence Type 3
Sir Isaac Newton once asked whether "blind chance [knew] that there was light and what was its refraction, and fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it?" I'm not qualified to answer Newton's question, but what is obvious is that Benoit Mintiens has been pondering refraction for some time. Benoit appears to have come up with a technically challenging, but incredibly elegant solution to a perceived weakness in the display of his previous design - the SeriesOne. With the Type 3, Benoit has created a liquid-filled dial-space that creates the illusion of an almost two dimensional display. Thermal expansion has been considered, with an integrated valve system. Not content with conquering light and heat, Benoit also adds two more complications to the Type 3 (a day indicator on the main dial, and a date running around the perimeter of the dial-space) while taking away something else - the crown.

Operating the crown-less Type 3

The crown-less Type 3 is now operated by rotating the back portion of the watch through a number of combinations to achieve different results: the Type 3 is wound, for example, by turning the case back. "To change the date, it is simply necessary to make a longer rotation through 200° in order to arrive at the date quadrant. The hour is set by starting from the neutral position and turning in the direction indicated." It's all very clever, and looks to be relatively intuitive. Benoit has even carried over some of his magnetic trickery into the rear of the watch: a gravitational gearing system allows time setting to be disconnected by simply inverting the watch. The lugs are now fixed, but I've been unable to get a decent picture of the new straps that go with the Type 3.

To be honest, I'm astounded by this piece: I've always had a soft spot for Ressence, and with the Type 3, Benoit has produced a design that is both beautiful and strangely practical. Best of all, the watch appears to be a diver - it's called Le Scaphandrier - although perhaps this is better translated as aquanaut than deep diver? At EUR23K, this is not going to be a watch for everyone, but them, as there are only going to be 50 built, you're going to be in pretty limited company anyway.

the #watchnerd

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