Ressence Time by Colour


Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour head on

Regular readers know I enjoy deciphering weird watches. The new Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour needs deciphering. At first glance, their horological three ring circus display is an uncrackable code. Mercifully, Ressence’s interactive online simulator provides the key. Once you know the code, reading the time on their Colourful watch is still a tricky task . . .

Every piece of information is segregated. Each socially distanced bit orbits around the dial every hour. So the hour sub-dial is 180 degrees away from where it was thirty minutes before. There’s a definite arrogance to wanting to reinvent the clock face that has served mankind for hundreds of years. I wouldn’t say they’ve succeeded, but A for effort.

The first photo I saw of the Ressence Orbital Convex System (abbreviation conveniently ROCS) on a 5X LE had me  think it was a smartwatch, as the display is so flush  under the crystal and all is filled with oil. Futuristic, but it had no mechanical balls. Till now!

Christoper Harvey, PhD

Somehow Ressence learnt about Harvard U. brain guy Christopher Harvey of the eponymous Harvey Lab, who maybe does rat maze race experiments because neurobiology. Supposedly one of these impenetrable research studies found that mammals estimated time best via color (or colour for British/Commonwealth mammals).

They state that “one of his findings was that the way watches with hands represent time might not be the most efficient way to indicate multidimensional information in the glimpse of an eye.” Even less so, surely, for the way Ressence watches without hands represent time!

I couldn’t locate this study, as the postdoctoral lingo was too obtuse, but I’d guess this has to do with that solar cycle of a normal day. I should note that Oris wearer Vito Spatafore has shown that judging time by the angle of the Sun can be imprecise.

Maybe some people are so detached from natural sunlight that they can’t get a sense of the rough time of the day. Literal prisoners get time in the yard, but wearers of $24K watches might not. This explains my the Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour came to be.

1 Squared X? One squared, of course, is one. Maybe squared refers to the case shape. X marks the spot? Ressence loves hiding and obscuring. X also does not denote a collaboration. It is for Collection X, a mysterious anonymous collection.

Actually it’s the Roman numeral for ten, as this is a tenth anniversary watch for the brand. Note that on the hour sub-dial the 10 is a stylized X that looks more like an hourglass. Hour sub-dial, why is that a thing?

Ressence logo hand

Their logo is the hand. On the website they say “our logo – an outstretched hand – expresses our signature spirit: Humanity, universality and proximity.” Universally confusing, maybe. I wish there were a way to spin it so the fingers faced downward, making the open palm hand-out gesture for requesting money.

Why the Time by Colour uses the British spelling of color, I’m not sure. They’re a Belgian company. Maybe they thought having ad copy repeatedly use the term colors would get people thinking about Crips and Bloods, or the 1988 movie by that name.

Ressence balls

So there are 48 little colored balls to give this color version of time. There aren’t 48 colors of these balls, but each obviously represents a half hour of a 24 hour day. The color count is just four: one each for night, morning, midday, and evening. You’ve seen a photo by now, so feel free to play along at home and guess what color goes with each day quadrant.

Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour closeup

Black is night. I hope everybody got this one right. It’s dark at night, see, but use the Black Knight mnemonic if necessary. In the morning you may notice that the Sun is yellow and thus are the morning balls. Or because you probably have to pee in the morning, whatever.

The opposite of the black ball is the white ball, and they look white to me but they’re listed as gray. Gray got assigned to afternoon. It gets a little colder as the Sun starts falling, so they mark evening with blue balls. Right?

Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour $ shot

Honestly, that is less confusing, albeit less useful, than their numeric time display. On the plus side, the 0.9 millimeter diameter gum ceramic balls travel in an intuitive clockwise direction oops, never mind, counter clockwise. The relevant indicated time ball is oddly at the bottom of the display arc instead of the top, which would make more sense. The sun travels overhead from east to west. This is all a little disorienting.

It is pointed to with an index marked 8. I have no idea why, nor why every other index except the 24 (for 24 hours?) at top is marked with a zero. I guess this there is a small seconds hand operating within the recirculating ball display. Ressence: your guess is as good as mine.

Ressence 1 Squared X Time by Colour closeup side

Each color accounts for six hours, and apparently night starts at midnight. I thought they’d center these time sectors on midnight and noon, not between them. I thought wrong. My guess would lead to morning starting at 3am, evening starting at 3pm. Well anyway, the dial is green. It looks like a tinged black, certainly not vantablack, a superdark olive and not some kelly or emerald or Hulkster/Kermit green.

The third subdial for date looks like a power reserve indicator. Find the differently shaded weekend days, and remember to count clockwise. Ressence: fashion over function at every turn. I can’t knock the caseback winding/adjusting stem, which allows a fantastic symmetry. How it actually performs is a mystery, as is so much about this brand.

Ressence caseback

Production of this titanium cushion cased outlier is limited to forty pieces. That number may have some significance, or they could have spilled the little ceramic beads and ran out. Because of the balls, presumably, the 1 Squared X is not filled with oil. Does that increase or decrease the lubrication intervals? Being a dry unit means measly 1 ATM water resistance, but the case is thinned down to 11mm.

I’m glad Ressence is doing what they are doing with the 1 Squared X Time by Colour, even if I find it all ponderous and deliberately, annoyingly, complicated for the sake of complexity. Say what you will, they’re trying new things and not being boring. There seem to be buyers for their quirky offerings. Who are these people? I suspect that they’re sort of pretentious and eccentric, the types that love wearing a watch that no normal person can read.

Ressence side with band

The $24k Time by Colour complication will surely tickle some pink. I also suspect there will be many that get to hear about it from the wearer. Half will be enthralled, half will be very deeply sorry that they asked. I just saw the photo and read some copy on the Ressence Squared X Time by Colour and I am both fascinated and repulsed. I don’t think the company’s owners will mind this reaction, at all.


  1. I want one. Anything that is confusing or annoys Rolex “collectors”. But the real question, with all watches, always. How much is the service? How often? How long does it take? And also, how durable is that movement, and what’s the water resistance?
    Somehow seems as though nobody who wears silly mechanical watches ever sets foot outside, or cares about ongoing usability of these things. Bewildering

    • As I sort of said, I like the idea of Ressence more than the actual product, not that I’ve seen anything but imagery. Were they 3/4 the size and 1/100 the price, I’d probably grab one.

      A while back, Luke Ibis fretted about the fact that you’d have to send a Yema overseas to France for repair that could take months. I’d expect the same here, although their volumes are low enough that the line may be short. This is not the model of theirs for water resistance. I’ve seen at least one comment stating that their reliability reputation is not stellar, which makes sense as their limited runs are just past prototype development, so the customer is a beta tester.

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