These days there are very few times where you can really say that there is something "new" in horology. Whenever there is a new complication or method to display time somebody somewhere has done it before. Either directly mimicking an old invention or simply contributing to an evolution/modification of an existing complication. The reason is simple, being that watch makers are contaminated by the past. It is not only human to look to the past for inspiration but it is also a way to honor the work of countless geniuses behind it. So it is only predictable that when one first becomes seduced by horology and then goes throughout the learning process the past weighs heavily. Knowing that, understand my surprise when at last years Basel fair I came across Ressence. I recon I have made the mistake before in jumping to the haste conclusion that something unusual was indeed something new. As a result, and to cover my back, I researched (within my possibilities) as to how original this idea really was. Guess what... It actually is "really" something new! Now, the mystery remained as to how somebody that I assumed (my mistake) had gone through the classical route of horology came came up with something new and different. My first assumption was flawed since Benoît Mintiens actually did not go through the classic horological route. Instead, Benoît not being "contaminated" had the benefit in this case to open a whole new way to tell time. To display all indications on the same plane while maintaining legibility throughout. Bravo!
Needles to say I was taken by Benoît's "Zero Series" form the start. The flat-face rotating disks, front and back, together with the two enveloping sapphire glass worked an ergonomic wonder. The fixed crown and modular/configurable watch case for left handed owners was only confirmation that it was a very well throughout product. The delay/wait was a long one (although expected…) but certainly worth while. For all those fortunate enough to have one of the original "Zero Series" and have not got it yet, here is a little something for the road...
NOTE: I am having difficulty generating an acceptable video/audio file with the tools at my disposal here. Although the material is properly filmed the computer I am currently working with has little "punch" and therefore has difficulty in creating smooth video and sound. I will wait to upgrade the internal memory in the next few days before posting the video... if that doesn't do the trick I will try to find a computer with enough power to properly render the video and audio. Sorry.
NOTE 2: I have solved technical issues regarding the quality of the video. However, it seems that "YouTube" has been adding commercials on my footage and I simply will NOT stand for that. I will keep trying to find a solution to go around that, in the mean time I am debating if I should cancel my YouTube account...
Metaphysically, the first impression is that of holding the beginning of an adventure. The first chapter of a book that only 50 people around the world will be fortunate enough to own. Being part of the very first watch in the birth of a new brand can only be described as something special. Physically, the front and back sapphire glass that practically wraps around the whole watch gives an incredibly smooth tactile feeling. The first contact is so smooth that you get the feeling of a massage when you slide your fingers across the front and back sapphire glasses. Seriously, you just don't want to let go! That brings me tho the first obvious benefit and I can't help but like the fact that the watch will have very little sign of wear over a long period of time. Due to this case construction there are no exposed metal parts other than the crown or the edges of the strap fasteners that are prone to scratches. Especially those micro-scratches that inevitably appear over a period on metal bezels simply with the use/friction under a shirtsleeve. The full-plate rotor and the six screws on the back complete the design in a stunning manner. Right of the bat I can say that I am not too happy with the strap/ deployment buckle combo. I am not particularly fond of "straight" straps with no or little difference between the width at the watch case and width at the buckle. This more modern way to size straps simply falls short of class… or rather what I mean to say is that while it might look great on a Panerai Luminor I am not to keen in seeing that on more classic watches. The second part I am not to impressed by is the deployment buckle. It is a standard yet banal deployment buckle well beneath this wonderful watch. I don't know about you but this watch SCREAMS for a classic ardillon buckle that can be reversed at any time (I will reason this petition later…) However, all this is something that can easily be fixed.
Day 1: I am holding it in my hand more than on my wrist. The winding of the crown is hard even if the grip is quite acceptable. Since it is an automatic watch the issue is not that problematic should the power reserve be we longer than an overnights rest. The strap and buckle... well, let's see how the feel in a couple of days.
Day 2: Can't stop looking at it and playing with the crown to set the time over and over again. Really cool watch. At night the readout is much better than anticipated even if contrary to classic watches the Super LumiNova is applied everywhere except on the hour indices and five-minute intervals. Hmmm, interesting...
Day 3: The watch turns out to be a real conversation starter. Thank good for the iPhone App that shows how it works since setting the time over and over again to demonstrate is really getting tiresome.
Day 4: I love the back! To bad that the lugs are not immediately reversible, I would be cool to be able to wear this the other way around. Hence the need for an ardillon buckle that would permit such an action...
Day 5: Did I mention that the watch box is really something out of the ordinary? Well, I still wonder how they managed no do this thing. There is a tool supplied for the strap change... will be playing with that tomorrow.
Day 6: I just could not help myself. The strap and deployment buckle needed to go. Did not have many options on hand where I am right now but the result makes a world of difference. With a more classic strap approach there is more focus on the watch than on the strap. That works much better for me. Can't wait for an ardillon by Ressence to harmonize the whole ensemble.
Day 7: Regarding the strap changing I must confess I was not too happy with this method at first. It takes time and very good eyesight to change the strap. However, after completing my first strap change I can only see benefits to this system. You will need patience since it take longer than a standard "strap pin" but the the benefit is that unlike the classic method you are less likely to scratch or damage the watch case. As many of you know, even a skilled watchmaker will scratch the inside of a watch case when changing a strap. It is inevitable. This approach might be more laborious but it not only reduces the risk of damage considerably but also allows for a modification of the angle of the lugs for more comfort if required. There is one thing that I do recommend to Ressence... adding one set (at least) of spare gaskets and pins would be very welcomed. Even if I have managed not too loose any of these they are very small and in risk of getting blown of the table to not bee seen again, ever.
Day 8: The "twilight" effect of "tunnel-drive-through" effect looks like a party. Love it.
Day 9: Wearing the Zero Series is a real treat. Very comfortable although downward angled strap lugs (like the Panerai Radiomir) could and would make it even more comfortable.
Day 10: Sill conformable and pleasant to wear and visibility is quite good in all lighting conditions despite not having anti-glare treatment on the glass
- Seconds-stop function: yes
- Date change: n/a
- Alignment of hands at 12 o'clock: perfect
- Alignment of chronograph hands: n/a
- Anti-reflective coating: none
- Contrast Day: *****
- Visibility Night: ****
- Watch Case: *****
- Strap: ****
- Deployment Buckle: ****
- Crown: *
- Watch Case: *****
- Bracelet/Strap/Buckle: *
- Dial & Hands: *****
- Crown: *****
- Movement: n/a
Price: Aprox. 12,000 €