First introduced back in January at the SIHH, the Type 1 Squared offers a different take on Ressence’s signature time-telling system. Sure, the orbital discs are still there, and the look is still minimal and designy, but the entire package is a lot less curvy. Instead of a domed crystal and a similarly-shaped caseback, there’s a slightly square case that’s extra slim and has carefully honed edges. While it’s definitely a departure from the standard Type 1, it looks downright alien next to the bubble-shaped Type 3 and Type 5.
When I first saw the Type 1, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. On paper, it’s a cool idea, but even after seeing the watch in the metal during SIHH, part of me missed the more fluid lines of the original Type 1 (which is still available, by the way this is an additional model, not a replacement). I never doubted the watch’s comfort, nor did I have any real aesthetic complaints. I just wasn’t sure the watch felt right to me as a Ressence. Obviously that meant I wanted to spend some quality time with the watch, and, luckily, I was able to do just that. The results left me surprised, to say the least.
When I opened the package after it arrived from Antwerp, Belgium, there were two watches inside awaiting my inspection. Technically the watches were identical, but one had a brushed dark grey dial and the other had a rich blue dial. While I quite enjoyed the look of the blue on its own, the dark grey was my choice for wearing around New York City for my little test.
The first thing I took a closer look at was the new case. Measuring in at 41mm across and 11.5mm thick, this is the slimmest and smallest Ressence model produced yet. That on its own was enough to get me intrigued. I’ve always found that the 42mm Type 1 wears smaller than you’d expect (even being 13mm thick), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t wished it to be a bit smaller for my less-than-hulking wrist.
In practice, the result is even better than on paper. The square case tapers at the edges, making the watch wear even thinner than it already is, and the visual effect makes it appear smaller on the wrist too. The shaping of the corners has been handled with extreme finesse, and the result is something with both elegance and energy. The short lugs are another nice touch, and they’re placed such that they don’t really interrupt the already complex geometry of the case.
Turn the watch over and you get what might be the best thing about this watch: a new winding and setting system. The biggest gripe Ressence lovers tend to have about their watches is the fact that to set them you have to turn the entire caseback by gripping the edges, all while having it in the right position so as to not upset the day of the week display (and date on some models) in the process.
With the Type 1 Squared, Ressence introduces a flip-out lever that discretely folds into the caseback when not in use. To set the watch you just pop it out and turn it like a key. It’s about as easy as setting a watch gets, rivaling even a traditional crown system it feels like winding an antique clock in a way that’s extremely satisfying for the nerdier of us. The coolest part though is that the key is geared 1:1 with the minute disc (you can’t really call it a “hand” here), so as you turn it, the indicator moves in synch with your motions. The result is a mechanism that feels surprisingly organic and natural. This is hands-down a win for Ressence and something that I hope we’ll see in the other models soon.
Now, one of the things I was worried about with the Type 1 Squared was whether or not the nested round dial discs would feel out of place in a square case. The earlier models were all based on the unified look of concentric circles, and this model disrupts all that. I’m happy to report that, for me at least, I didn’t find this to be an issue at all in practice. The case ends up acting more like a frame, letting you get a clear view of the display, an effect emphasized by the sloped “bezel” area, which almost seems to push the display up above the rest of the watch.
On the wrist, you end up not noticing the case all that much. And that’s a good thing. The emphasis is places on the beautiful brushed dials and the orbital displays instead of on the stainless steel chassis that supports them. After an hour or two of wear, you really start to notice how big a difference this new case design makes in terms of comfort the reduction of mass and dimensions goes a long way toward making this a viable all-day wearer. Having worn Ressence watches before, I didn’t really need to get used to the unusual time display, but even if you’re new to the fold, the whole thing becomes intuitive very quickly. By the end of your first day, you’ll be reading the watch as quickly as any other.
Overall, the Type 1 Squared surprised me. I’m an unabashed fan of the Type 1 and have been for years. When I first saw this new design, it almost felt like messing with something that was already great just for the sake of it. But, I should have trusted the team over at Ressence the results here are outstanding. The Type 1 Squared is extremely comfortable on the wrist, shows outstanding attention to detail in the shaping and implementation of the case, and introduces a winding system that is, in no uncertain terms, a game-changer for the brand. After just a few days with one on my wrist, you can consider me a believer.
The Ressence Type 1 Squared retails for $20,600 (the same price as a standard Type 1) and is available with four different dial colors, including the blue and ruthenium seen here, as well as silver and champagne. For more, visit Ressence online.