Oil in the ocean, as a rule, is bad. But rules, as we know, often have exceptions. And the titanium-tooled, meticulously-mechanical exception to this particular rule is the oil-filled Ressence Type 5. Because the Belgian brand’s deepest-diving watch — first released in 2015 and ISO-certified to a depth of 100 metres — not only contains oil, it relies on it.
The Type 5 is the only mechanical diving watch in the world that isn’t compromised by underwater glare — even if the sun above is shining particularly fiercely through the surf. That’s because a small quantity of colourless, synthetic oil swims below the glass, working to cancel out any reflection or refraction of light. And that’s just the first trick up its wetsuit sleeve.
Because, beneath both the waves, the sapphire crystal and that all-important oil, the dial of the Type 5 has another talent. It displays time on a single, flat plain surface — much like words on a piece of paper. It’s an incredible innovation; one that must be seen in motion to be believed. The watchmaker calls this the ‘Ressence Orbital Convex System’, or ‘ROCS’, and it is the innovation upon which the company — quite literally — turns.
“By placing everything on the same level,” Ressence founder Benoît Mintiens told us earlier this year, “and by separating the information, it makes for an easier read for your eyes. On any Ressence, the dial will be different every time you look at it — just like time itself”.
“It makes for an easier read for your eyes…”
And the Type 5 takes Ressence’s signature style one step further. Thanks to that 3.57ml of extra-specialised oil — in which the ‘ROCS’ is submerged — the eye is tricked into momentarily losing its depth perception. The result is that the watch’s dial seems even closer, almost unimpeded by glass at all.
Of course, where deep-diving and oil are involved, waterproofing is of paramount importance. And not only has Ressence had its Type 5 ISO-certified and shock-tested to ensure even professional divers can rely on it, they’ve also designed the watch with two distinct ‘chambers’ to ensure no liquid can get anywhere near that precious, pioneering mechanism.
Instead, a bellows system regulates oil levels, and magnets are used to control the orbiting motion — delivering some of the smoothest time-telling we’ve ever seen on a watch’s dial.
Indeed, if this timepiece had a watchword, it would be ‘legibility’. The company brands the Type 5 its most ‘deeply readable’ watch, and that’s not far wrong. Typically with diving watches, the wearer must view the dial straight-on in order to get a good read on it. Otherwise, refraction can turn the glass into a mirror. But, after working pragmatically and unconventionally to cancel out any ‘Total Internal Reflection’, and adding that all-important smooth-running oil, the Type 5 can be viewed from any angle.
Even without the glare resistance, there’d still be a certain ergonomic ease to reading a Ressence Type 5. Rather than squinting and hunting across the dial for a specific metric or measurement, the face of the Type 5 is fluid, and the indexes have Grade-A ‘SuperLuminova’ applied to them so you can still see every sub-dial, even on your most adventurous dives.
There’s also a 90-second runner; a constantly-moving part that is a requirement for all diving watches, and gives wearers peace of mind that their watch is still working.
Not that there’s any fear your Type 5 would ever stop working. Cast in ‘Grade 5’ titanium, there’s an innate, utilitarian strength to this rugged, rough-and-ready timepiece that stands it apart from other diver’s watches — or even the rest of the Ressence range. Despite weighing just 85 grams, you’ll find hydraulic shock absorbers inside the watch, and brand founder Benoît Mintiens took inspiration from the unassailable shells of turtles when creating the Type 5’s case; imbuing its design with robust, natural lines.
But, while there are nods to the natural world, the modern mechanics and trailblazing features are what take the Type 5 to a new level. The watch is fitted with a seamlessly integrated uni-directional bezel, suited specifically to divers, and the brand’s ‘Ressence Compression Lock System’ or ‘RCLS’ (wherein wearers can ‘lock’ and ‘set’ both the time and the compression of the gasket without the need for a crown) can be operated even when wearing gloves — which comes in particularly handy when you’re fully kitted-out for an expedition.
The strap system, too, is a stroke of gentlemanly genius. While the watch is undoubtedly at its most functional when buckled onto a NATO strap, this practical band can easily be switched out for a more refined leather strap. And, when you combine the mechanical mastery and striking dial design with such a smart strap option, the Type 5 takes on an altogether different, more sophisticated character; perhaps the ultimate gentleman’s diving watch.
To even further appeal to a true gentleman’s benevolent sensibilities, Ressence also recently launched a limited edition Type 5. Vividly, vibrantly yellow, the ‘Type 5 AIT’ is a collaboration with brand partners Art In Time, and the watch perfectly illustrates both companies’ contemporary approach to design.
Only 12 examples will be made — each finished with bold yellow touches on the dial, the markers and bezel. 11 of these will be available exclusively at Art In Time, in Monaco. The twelfth, however — which will bear a distinctive yellow Ressence logo — will be sold at a charity event in September, with all proceeds going to the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco. These funds will be used to help further the work of the Pelagos Sanctuary, a marine territory in the waters off Monaco’s coast, home to a remarkable biodiversity including marine mammals such as dolphins, cachalots, and fin whales.
Which brings us back to oil. Where most global conservation organisations spend their good-natured days keeping oil out of the oceans, Ressence has turned the tide and flipped the narrative. By creating the ground-breaking, wave-making Ressence Type 5 (and especially by releasing the charitable ‘Type 5 AIT’) the Belgian brand is ticking ever closer to a sustainable future — one smooth-running second at a time.
Want to know more about the Belgian brand? Here’s how Ressence is leading the modern watchmaking revolution…
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