Could This Timepiece Signal the Future of Mechanical Watchmaking?

Ressence’s new concept uses electronic augmentation of a traditional mechanical movement to keep accurate time.

This week, the Palexpo facility in Geneva, Switzerland, will become the center of the watch world for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a luxury watch show rivaled only by BaselWorld in relevance and prestige. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you the most exciting releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check out Instagram. We’ll be posting to our feed throughout the week.

One of the benefits of quartz technology is that it’s relatively easy to augment with electronic components that expand the functionality of the traditional analog watch. Recently, we’ve seen that with watches that can connect to atomic clock and GPS signals to automatically adjust the time. These electronic enhancements, however, are not so easy to make on mechanical watches. In fact, they’re mostly unheard of. But a new timepiece from Ressence — an independent, Belgium-based watchmaker — promises to change that.

Like those GPS and radio-controlled quartz pieces, the new Type-2 e-Crown Concept can automatically set itself to the correct time, but it’s important to note that unlike those watches, the e-Crown doesn’t rely on outside signals. Instead, you set the time as you normally would, then the electro-mechanical system will use that time as a reference, then self-regulate. So when the watch stops running and you pick it up again, it will know what the correct time is, then automatically adjust when you tap the watch crystal. The watch can also connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, meaning users can adjust time zones via an app when traveling. While the electric components in the watch rely on a battery, they’re able to be juiced up via solar charging, so there’s no need for battery changes or a charging cable.

The watch retains Ressence’s patented orbiting disc display and has a 45mm titanium case. Right now the watch is just a concept, though, according to Hodinkee, a production version is on the horizon. Expect the final version to fetch a pretty penny (as all Ressence watches do). But at the very least, it could be a signal that the watch industry is ready to adopt electronic augmentation of otherwise traditional mechanical movements.

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