back to top

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

Belgium-based Ressence will debut a very innovative new system called e-Crown at SIHH 2018 in the Ressence Type 2 e-Crown watch. Initially debuted as a concept, this promising technology will be available for purchase later in 2018, which means this isn't a concept to be falsely excited about. Ressence promised that Type 2 e-Crown watches will be in stores around June 2018, with later e-Crown-equipped watches coming soon. So, what is e-Crown?

"E-Crown" or "electronic crown" is a new intermediary system that lives inside an otherwise totally mechanical watch. If you are familiar with Ressence watches, you already know that each watch has two existing modules. First is the movement itself, and second is the ROCS (Ressence Orbital Convex System) module which includes the display of the watch. The e-Crown is a new middle section module that will exist between the base mechanical movement and ROCS. It is an electronic system which replaces a traditional crown, and is the very epitome of what innovation in the high-end watch industry should look like these days. Before discussing e-Crown more, I want to applaud Ressence (as a small independent watchmaker) for pushing to make this technology a reality. Thanks to them for making a watch writer’s job continually interesting.

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

The purpose of the e-Crown is very straightforward, and that is to increase the accuracy of a mechanical watch. It does this by resetting the time in the mechanical movement at regular intervals or manually. Either manually in the watch or via the optional e-Crown Bluetooth-connected mobile phone app, the watch wearer sets the time in the e-Crown system. This time is stored via the electronic system, which is inherently far more reliable and accurate than mechanical timekeeping.

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

The e-Crown system doesn't require any battery changes. Ressence designed it to accumulate energy in two ways. First, the e-Crown system has a rotor which kinetically generates power as it moves. Since the base movement in the Type 2 is also an automatic, this means that the e-Crown-equipped watch will have two moving rotors that generate two types of energy (electricity and spring tension). The e-Crown also captures light to store as energy through a photovoltaic cell. This is one of the really cool elements of the watch from a mechanical standpoint.

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

Small shutters in a sub-dial on the face open either automatically when the system needs energy, or manually using the Bluetooth connection that allows light to enter through the dial to the photovoltaic cells under the dial. This means that the Type 2 e-Crown watch required the creation of a totally new generation of ROCS modules. Most of the components are produced from lightweight grade 5 titanium. The entire watch itself is produced from about 500 parts making it truly innovative as well as truly complicated.

Ressence developed e-Crown to bridge the gap between the world of traditional mechanical watchmaking and the world of modern technology that we live in. Ressence follows a lot of the thought patterns that I've advocated over the years ranging from bringing consumers actual innovation as well as including the world of modern technology in the world of watchmaking. Ressence customers are often people in the tech industry, so it was easy for Ressence to make the decision to develop this type of system which is intended to appeal to them. Even though the price for the Type 2 e-Crown watches isn't set yet, we know based on the brand's standard pricing that cost will be at least $40,000–$50,000 (and perhaps even higher).

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

The name of the game here is accuracy, and this is in response to what I feel is a growing trend of consumers being interested in the accuracy and performance of their traditional watches. With smartwatches becoming more universally worn and accepted, a growing number of people have increased reliability and accuracy expectations for their timepieces. Watches on the wrist are once again becoming a tool to tell the time, and traditional mechanical watches (certainly not known for their accuracy as compared to electronic quartz watches) are not at all known for their ability to keep up in terms of accuracy.

The e-Crown is a sort of middle ground allowing fans of traditional watches to also enjoy accuracy. On top of that, Ressence likely hopes that the inspired and complicated design and construction of the e-Crown system will appeal to consumers in similar ways that mechanical watches appeal to them. This includes a lot of moving parts that you can see with your own eyes. Having 10 opening and closing shutters on the dial is part of that emotional (as well as functional) appeal. I say all this because watch novices viewing this technology might logically ask "so why is there a mechanical movement in the watch at all?"

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

Tapping twice on the crystal of the watch after it has been in a resting state allows the e-Crown system to wake up. Even when in sleep mode the system keeps the right time, and then using its mechanical systems, proceeds to set the right time in the ROCS module. After that, the ROCS module is powered by the mechanical automatic movement inside of the watch on the lowest level of the module stack. Using e-Crown is totally optional, and if the user prefers, they can simply set the time manually and pretend like the watch is entirely traditional.

As I mentioned above, when you use e-Crown there will be two ways to do so. First is manually via the watch itself and second is via the e-Crown app. Ressence further allows for e-Crown to store times in various time zones, allowing you to easily switch the time on the watch when traveling. I'm pretty excited to test the system out myself.

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

The e-Crown "cluster" is composed of 87 parts, which includes a silicon board as well as mechanical parts. According to Ressence, the entire system requires only 1.8 joules of energy per day to operate. My understanding is that the e-Crown system was developed to be entirely exclusive for Ressence – making it a truly innovative and rare piece of technology.

The first e-Crown equipped watch will be the Type 2 e-Crown, which I will have more information about soon. It is based on the current Ressence Type 2 watch, but with the new e-Crown and ROCS modules. Updates to the dial include a new symmetrical layout, small openings to view the mechanics on the underside of the dial, as well as the shutter and power reserve indicator system for the e-Crown.

Ressence To Debut E-Crown System That Electronically Sets Time In A Mechanical Watch Watch Releases

I'm already considering that the Ressence e-Crown will be among the most talked about watches of 2018, and my major hope is that Ressence will be able to faithfully deliver on the big promise set forth here. My hope is that the big brands will take notice of this innovation and ideally focus on creating their own innovations that are dedicated to merging mechanical timekeeping with added performance such as accuracy and timing stability. Sure, there will be purists who don't like anything electronic in their watches, but for me, this type of product is incredible and exactly what I like to see the watch industry experimenting with. Again, the first watch with the e-Crown system will be the Ressence Type 2 e-Crown that will be available for sale around mid-2018. e-crown.com | ressencewatches.com

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

Follow me on Google+ Ariel Adams
What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (14)
  • Interesting (7)
  • I want it! (4)
  • Classy (3)
  • I love it! (2)

Explore

Comments

Disqus Debug thread_id: 6395988601

  • IanE

    I suppose that, if you only have one mechanical watch, really accurate time-keeping is important. However, how many Ressence owners will only have one watch and how many will wear any of their watches for more than a week at a time? Personally, I have 8 mechanicals and the one with the worst accuracy gains about 3 seconds a day (a Stowa flieger); as a result, if I set my next watch-to-wear a few seconds slow when I start it up, it is still only a few (say less than 20) seconds out when I switch to another watch (typically 3 – 8 days later). Accuracy is all very well, but I’d rather have a pure mechanical watch with easily serviceable (and admire-able) bits than the above type of Chimera whose support-life is as unclear as the survival of a company like Ressence. Shouldn’t they just put a decent movement in if they want to improve their eta-based watches?

  • Ranchracer

    One quick correction Ariel: “The e-Crown is a sort of middle ground allowing WEALTHY fans of traditional watches to also enjoy accuracy.”

    I do love Ressence pieces, and applaud them for their ingenuity. I just hope that one day all of us pleebs can enjoy such accuracy in our mechanical timepieces.

  • Rupert Muller

    “It is an electronic system which replaces a traditional crown…”

    Funny enough Ressence is one of the only watch brands that just has watches WITHOUT crown in the portfolio!

  • Rupert Muller

    “Watches on the wrist are once again becoming a tool to tell the time, and traditional mechanical watches (certainly not known for their accuracy as compared to electronic quartz watches) are not at all known for their ability to keep up in terms of accuracy.”

    While this might be true, mechanical watches are known to last for decades and even centuries. You can easily find someone to repair your pocket watches from the 19th century. On the other hand, we all know the error rate of electric circuit systems…
    To each his own – but i personally clearly pass on a few seconds per day accuracy and prefer to have a watch that still works when I hand it over to my sons and daughters.

  • IG

    This is the purists’ nightmare.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I just don’t know what to make of these. Sure it’s clever but if I’m wearing 50k on my wrist i want it to look like a 50k watch which this doesn’t.
    Are adverts appearing in the middle of reviews now?

  • BrJean
    • MEddie90

      Tacky, but i guess that was their goal. I’ll be honest it takes some balls to try and piss off 9 Swiss brands simultaneously.

      Patek (dial and braclet), Rolex (GMT bezel), Panerai (crown guard and numerals), Cartier (cabochon crown) Hublot (case), IWC (logo), GP (tourby bridge), Breguet (hands) and AP (Bezel shape).

      • Also: Hublot (H-screws).

      • Tempvs Mortvvs

        That’s one of the most ironical watches I’ve ever seen. It’s also far more straightforward than most. And, yes, it’s hideous, but not more so than the marketing of most watch brands.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      This is all over the place. It’s giving me a headache. To be auctioned after the SIHH. I’m at a loss, it’s neither one thing or the other, just awful.

      *Clunk™

    • eRZé

      I have a new grail. 😉

  • Chris

    I would love to see Seiko put something like this in a spring drive movement.

    • Steve Loader

      Compared to this system, Spring Drive is a technically and mechanically more elegant solution.
      My last SD gained 2 seconds a week, and I never felt the need to make it more accurate than that.

  • MEddie90

    I’m sorry but as cool as it is how can you honestly call a watch mechanical when it’s time is reset automatically to a quartz reference at “regular intervals”? May as well make it a solar quartz at that point, seeing as the quartz is effectively dictating the end accuracy the mechanical movement is a pointless affectation. At least that way you could keep the size and weight down and include some helpful features like a perpetual calendar and automatic daylight savings.

    I’d also be worried about the longevity of the watch, mechanical watches can last for hundreds of years and can nearly always be repaired in some way, the more high tech you make things the more difficult that becomes. If Ressence has closed it’s doors in 20 years and I have problems with my watch who is qualified to repair it? If the old “e-crown” software stops working with newer operating systems are how will the app be updated to work?

    Interesting concept but there are two many unknowns at the moment imho, kind of like the Urwerk EMC. As Dan says if I want a quartz mech hybrid i’m going spring drive ever time.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Yup.

  • Hello Ariel, the “social share” is annoying, particularly because it only shows during the whole article, but not at the beginning or ending.

  • DanW94

    Something just doesn’t feel right about this system. You state that “The purpose of the e-Crown is very straightforward, and that is to increase the accuracy of a mechanical watch. It does this by resetting the time in the mechanical movement at regular intervals or manually”. It doesn’t say much about the mechanical movement having a smartwatch feature checking up on it every now and then to make sure it’s doing its job properly. In fact the movement could theoretically be garbage and be off by minutes per day. It’s inconsequential as the E-crown will simply correct the time at regular intervals. An interesting meld of the two technologies but if I want some sort of watch movement hybrid I’d still go with a Spring Drive.

    • Chemistman

      Exactly my sentiment. Well put

    • Good Gene 42K18

      Maybe if it adjusted the time once a week or on the last day of the month in the overnight hours (and kept track of the difference), but if it’s that infrequent, what’s the point of the investment and couldn’t you just do it yourself?
      Great artical though. Arial=bomb

  • benjameshodges

    Very timely considering the article on the trends to change for trade shows this year.

  • I think if I want that level of technology for $50K, I’ll buy a Tesla. It comes with a clock.

  • chaos215bar2

    Any explanation why they’re wasting space hanging a blue tooth off the side of their circuit board? Might be better off using the space for a Bluetooth antenna or something…

  • BJ314

    Everything Ressence does pushes the envelope of design and gives us a glimpse into the future of watchmaking.

    • Jay Wick

      Seriously?

      • Good Gene 42K18

        of coarse, i am always seriously and him to

      • Sheez Gagoo

        Words are very unnecessary…

  • Raymond Wilkie

    If this is indeed, the future of watch making then i despair,………I really do.

    • BJ314

      I’m going to assume you’re retired and not replying to every comment, every hour on the hour, at your job.

      • IG

        He’s typing while riding on Malcolm.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Never write and drive. Ended up in the pool once!

          • Jay Wick

            Like Peter Sellers as the telephone repair man?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        What’s your problem caller?
        My job allows me to work from home.
        I only comment when i deem it absolutely necessary.

        • Good Gene 42K18

          and its always necesARY, I Value you

        • Jay Wick

          And do you consider yourself a regular or infrequent contributor?

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Only when i see fit.

        • BJ314

          It bothers me that you lie a lot. Not sure why.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Ok, i’ll bite,……………………When?

  • Good Gene 42K18

    Great artical! This is so both noice and kewl.

    • Jay Wick

      I conkur

  • eRZé

    Ressence, with their original concept, are one if my favorite brands. If I had the money I’d buy one of their purely mechanical models because that’s where their originality lies. If I wanted a hybrid, I’d buy a Spring Drive, it’s one of a kind, autonomous and accurate enough even for daily wear.

    • Karellen

      Spring drive to my eyes is a lot different, the only electronic part is the escapement, and it generates its own current without needing a rechargeable battery that soon or later surely will die. It’s comparable to an old engine with kick start, where the only electronic instruments are spark plugs, whereas this concept is comparable to a diesel engine (that doesn’t even need spark plugs), but with electronic aids and ride by wire.

      • Kuroji

        Technical nit: there is no escapement in an SD watch.

        • Karellen

          I think it depends on the definition you give to escapement: if you mean a mechanism that uses inertia to quantize mechanical energy in ticks, or if you consider it to be only a device that controls the amount of mechanical energy that comes out in a certain amount of time. The spring drive movement has a sort of brake, that lets out enough energy to let the wheel rotate according to a quartz timekeeping, if you exclude this part it is a classic mechanical movement with a mainspring and everything else. A normal quartz movement by contrast has no escapement, there is no control of mechanical energy from a spring, but the right amount of torque is generated each second.

          • Kuroji

            How about this one from the dictionary:

            es·cape·ment
            ??sk?pm?nt/
            noun
            noun: escapement; plural noun: escapements
            a mechanism in a clock or watch that alternately checks and releases the train by a fixed amount and transmits a periodic impulse from the spring or weight to the balance wheel or pendulum.

          • Karellen

            We just have a different interpretation of this definition. On a spring drive there is a mechanism that checks the speed of the wheel 8 times per second (and compares it to a reference quartz), and releases the train by a variable amount (according to the quartz reference) and transmits a periodic impulse to the glide wheel. To my eyes this still is an escapement, as it is just a little stretch of the definition that takes in account something that didn’t exist when it was written. What do you consider the zenit defy lab oscillator? It has a piece of silicon (oscillator) that does alone what should instead be done by the balance wheel and spring, so it doesn’t fit in the definition. Would you say that this zenith has no escapement? Sorry if I sound polemic, but I am just curious!

          • Kuroji

            An escapement is a particular kind of mechanical regulator. The SD’s regulator is qualitatively different. I believe Zenith refers to their device as a silicon oscillator.
            It is not correct to refer to anything that performs a similar function as an “escapement.”

      • eRZé

        I get your point. Mine was that this abracadabra with a new electronic “layer” and a smartphone app seems to be out of place. The SD concept is that the watch, although not fully mechanical, is autonomous, it regulates itself without any external influence to achieve better accuracy.

        • Karellen

          Exactly, the beauty of a traditional watch is that it doesn’t depend by anything else. This concept needs a phone with bluetooth, what if I forget my phone at home or if it’s out of battery? What if in 5 years apple decides that bluetooth is ancient and no longer needed and all the other manufacturers follows?

    • Jay Wick

      I’d be wary of the price of an oil change.

      • eRZé

        If I had the funds to buy either a Ressence or a SD I wouldn’t mind.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Respectable brand is going nonsense. Sad.

    • Kuroji

      Perhaps this is just a first step to a fully electronic version while maintaining the dial. I would be into that. Not for $50k though.

  • dragos pascu

    I don’t get it, what’s the point of the mechanical movement then? Call me stupid……

  • TheChuphta

    What an amazing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    I’ve invented a $50,000 electrical / mechanical device which when activated will drag a match across a sandpaper strip causing it to burst into flame. Sure, I could carry a lighter, or just a regular matchbook, but then people might have to talk to me to realize what smug douche I am.

  • Chaz

    So much to go wrong. Hopefully it comes with a 20 year warranty… maybe they’ll be leasing them…

  • Kuroji

    Hate the shutters. Spoils the dial design.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Reminds me of that Urwerk with included Witschi and regulation possibility. Forgot the model.

  • Joe

    I like the look of Ressence watches and their dials are modern, legible and cool but…

    This one is effectively a “periodically-corrected automatic” watch and it’s not a very elegant solution, in my opinion.
    It’s like a version of a Casio/Seiko/Citizen GPS/Radio/Bluetooth-corrected wristwatch but with a mechnical foundation. The Casio/Seiko/Citizens make sense to me. The starting point is electronic, so it’s augmented electronically.
    Non VHF quartz watches typically lose +/-15s per month without the correction and I’d like to see the numbers on this watch too.

    For me, horology is what it is, partly because of legacy/history and partly for the amazing engineering and craftsmanship necessary to make a watch look good as well as function well (keep good time).
    If Ressence are “getting around” their inability to tune their modified ETA (let alone create their own IHC) by adding this feature, it feels like cheating to me as a watch enthusiast. I’m not an IHC snob but I’d like to see them focus on what makes a watch interesting to their potential customers (albeit wealthy WISes), rather than taking what appears to be a distasteful shortcut.

    As others have mentioned, I feel that the technology/engineering behind Spring Drive is a far more ingenious alternative to the traditional escapement, compared to this.

    Cool=Maybe
    Desirable=No

  • Himanshu Arora

    I love this concept. I think we are perhaps getting a bit too hung up on the electronic vs mechanical aspects. The ‘art of the possible’ here is that ‘communication center’ within the movement module. That’s the gateway that Tony Fadell et al are going for. It can talk to your App today, won’t only be your app in the future. Think Alexa, Nest, z-wave, your car, your e-doctor, etc. And the extension of possibilities in terms of functionality – locator, sensor, notifier, etc – are down the line but likely in the master blueprint. I understand a lot of other watches (Astron, Breitling Emergency etc) provide some of these capabilities, but the ‘input’ this can take can be (and I predict in future, will be) more varied that just radio signal or traditional mechanical interaction. Love my Type-1 Squared, but once this tech is a bit mature, won’t mind switching it out for this…nice work Benoit!

  • ProJ

    Mechanical watch lovers do not prefer non-mechanical enhancement for watch accuracy. Seiko has tried with the spring drive and is still struggling.

    • Ian john horwood

      Struggling they are not to gs lovers, i prefer my sbgc003 Gs springdrive chronograph, to my hi-beat gmt any day of the week.

      • ProJ

        Agree with you. GS technology is amazing and I am a fan. However, sales-wise they have not gone mainstream, and even within Seiko itself, the demand on automatic is still higher. Isn’t that interesting?

  • Richard Baptist

    I have to say this feels like a solution looking for a problem. The only thing that’s interesting is the ability to change timezones on the fly, but I’ll do what I do now, pull out the crown and change the time. I think in the end this may be a “nice to have” but I myself can’t see buying a watch because of this feature.

    • Watching Time

      Nailed it. People buying mechanical watches aren’t buying for the exacting accuracy. Product-market mismatch. Citizen did this more than a decade ago and I have yet to meet a person who regularly uses the feature…

      • spiceballs

        If you are referring to a Citizen eco radio-controlled watch then its nice to meet you – – – 🙂

  • BNABOD

    Well ladies and gents you can put a blanket on a pig ? or a pig in a blanket but at the end of the day it still is a swine. I think the watch is butt ugly and w the energy crevaces on the dial, it looks even worse than the original non electronisized version . Maybe the original sucked at time keeping I don’t know but yeha this is just asking for trouble when it starts breaking down on you and for 50gs I want it to be top of the line but this just feels gimmicky

  • Yan Fin

    So, the power source of syncing electronics would be something like autoquartz from Tissot or Kinetic from Seiko. I owned both and the each watch was stopping every other day being wound through all day wearing or/and being in winder for hours. It would be a nice surprise for someone paid 50K. Not to mention this Ressence design does nothing to me.

  • SuperStrapper

    It is interesting and innovative for certain, but this would never be the ressence I buy.

  • GhostlyProduct

    I’d be worried that in 10 years all I’d be left with is a $50,000, oil-filled mechanical/quartz paperweight. Appreciate the complexity, but as echoed below it solves a nonexistent problem.

  • spiceballs

    Not my style of watch but I appreciate what Ressence are doing – its just a “little” pricey, especially on what looks like a cheapish nylon strap – – ?

  • LabRat

    You want pin sharp accurate and solar powered, buy proven Citizen Eco Satellite, well under $1k