One drawback of mechanical watches is having to reset the time after forgetting to wind them. To eliminate that minor tedium, Belgian watchmaker Ressence has come up with the Type 2 e-Crown Concept, a mechanical/electromechanical automatic wrist watch that resets itself when the glass is tapped.
At first glance, the Type 2 e-Crown Concept shows its pedigree with styling cues taken from other Ressence timepieces. But a closer look reveals something odd. There's no crown. Not only is the lack of a crown a bit jarring aesthetically, it also raises an obvious question. How do you set a watch that doesn't have one? The answer is found by tapping the glass, which makes the hands suddenly leap to the correct time.
Part of the secret of this capability is found in a lever set in the back of the 45mm titanium case. This is used once by the wearer to set the time and then the watch takes over. But why a lever? That's due to Ressence replacing the traditional crown mechanism with an in-house, electromechanical, embedded system.
Translated into English, the Type 2 e-Crown Concept contains two separate modules. One is a purely mechanical, 500-part, automatic movement with the company's redefined and patented dial Ressence Orbital Convex System (ROCS) that links the movement together using a series of titanium discs and rings. On top of this is the electronic e-Crown module. The former does the usual job of telling the time, while the latter replaces the crown.
What the e-Crown does is record the initial time setting that then acts as a running reference in the event the wearer takes the self-winding watch off for an extended period, allowing the power reserve to run out. Tapping the glass brings the e-Crown online and it uses a small motor to reset the time without interfering with the movement's gear train.
In addition to resetting the time, the e-Crown has other features. It also monitors the watch's performance and allows the wearer to switch between time zones and the e-Crown modes by double tapping the glass or connecting via Bluetooth to an optional smartphone app. This provides the options of geolocation, more precise time setting on a daily basis, a readout of performance and automatic switching between summer and winter time. It will even send a reminder when it's time to have the Type 2 serviced.
Ressence says that e-Crown has three modes. In full e-Crown mode, the watch is set to a precision of a second by the e-Crown and the app, semi-e-Crown uses only the e-Crown for minute-level precision, and manual returns the watch to the predigital age with no electronic oversight.
The watchmaker also tried to make the Type 2 e-Crown Concept fully self-sufficient. Not only is the movement self-winding, but the e-Crown uses only 1.8 joules of energy per day. This is provided by a kinetic generator when worn, but if the watch is left to sit, 10 micro shutters automatically open to reveal photovoltaic cells and the e-Crown goes into sleep mode until the glass is tapped.
Because it's just a concept, the company isn't providing details about the watch's movement or exactly how everything works. Also, even though the Type 2 is going into production this year, the Concept is a one-off that isn't for sale.
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