In the wake of the smartwatch invasion, there have been many attempts by the old guard to show that they are willing to move with the times. At SIHH this year, a boutique Belgian watch brand came up with a new concept that combines the best parts of conventional and connected timekeeping. Meet the Ressence Type 2 e-Crown Concept.  

The e-Crown has an electro-mechanical module

Over the years, Ressence has built a reputation among watch enthusiasts and collectors as a left-field, design-led watch company. In Ressence’s patented time display system – Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) - all the elements of a conventional dial lie in one co-planar surface very close under the sapphire glass. Time is indicated by discs and rings that orbit around each other. There’s nothing else quite like Ressence in the industry at the moment.

And along the way, they have picked up a few industry awards like the Watchstars Design Star for the Type 3 in 2015. The Type 3, with its radical oil-filled crystal dome, also won the coveted GPHG Award in the Horological Revelation category (awarded to a company younger than five years) in 2015. To develop the e-Crown, they turned to Silicon Valley stalwart Tony Fadell, creator of the iPod and founder of Nest Labs, who came on board as “tech coach” for this project.

The module sits between the mechanical movements and display

The Type 2 e-Crown concept sees the addition of an electro-mechanical module between the mechanical movement and the ROCS module. What’s cool is that this is probably the first smartwatch that doesn’t need to be plugged in to an electric socket for charging, ever. This electro-mechanical module is powered by the kinetic energy created by the movement of your wrist. The kinetic generator, made of grade 5 Titanium, surrounds the base movement and has its own barrel.

In addition to this kinetic generator, there are tiny triple junction photovoltaic cells that are placed beneath the 10 micro-shutters on the dial. The power reserve of the module is a healthy 150 days and the watch switches to solar energy when the level of kinetic energy in the module drops below 40 per cent.

This pull-out lever acts as the mechanical crown

What exactly does the e-Crown do? It replaces the traditional crown’s setup functions of a mechanical watch. There are different modes of operation - in full e-Crown mode, a user can set and adjust the time via a smartphone app. In mechanical mode, it functions just like any other Ressence watch.

The photo-voltaic cells are stored beneath the shutters

Time is set via the flip-out lever on the caseback. Once set, the electro-motive module monitors the running of the ETA-based mechanical movement once every 24 hours and automatically adjusts the time if it feels that the mechanical movement veers off time by a few seconds, like all mechanical watches do in a day. The app also allows the user to switch between time zones. A double tap on the dial awakens the electro-mechanical module while a single tap pilots the selector in the mode menu. Located on a sub-disc, the selector always indicates in what mode you are in.

The watch will be delivered from this summer

The brushed titanium case and flush dial is typically Ressence and is paired with a fabric strap. The Ressence team says delivery of the watch will start in the second half of the year. The watch is expected to be priced at €35,000.