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Who's Who, Resseznce

WHO'S WHO

Benoît Mintiens, founder of Ressence, is neither a watchmaker, nor Swiss, but in fact a Belgian designer. Is that where his appeal lay for Laurent Picciotto? Well, yes – and no. “Of course, he doesn’t exactly have a run-of-the-mill profile for this line of business,” admits the boss of Chronopassion. “I think the main point of attraction for me was the way in which the watch told the time” – a set of rotating disks, without hands, flush with the dial and in constant motion. 

Ressence – a contraction of “Renaissance de l’Essentiel” – is indeed a renaissance of all that is essential. The watch is based on a tried and tested movement, adding a fun and original feature in the way it displays the time. There are none of the usual ostentatious design features that scream “Swiss made” or “limited edition”, or any huge brand logo across the dial – that’s not the Ressence way. Even the brand name is to be found only on the underside of the casing. The approach is simple and minimalist, giving pride of place to the very essence of the object – telling the time. 

Was Laurent Picciotto won over right from the outset? Yes, but with a certain degree of caution nonetheless: “You come across a lot of brands at Basel one year only to find they have disappeared the next. I took Ressence’s first design to test out its approach, then waited for the next one. I found it to be a serious brand that was single-minded and very attentive.”

Today, Ressence is very much at home at the Rue Saint Honoré shop. Although it has a loyal following,  Laurent Picciotto stops short of putting Ressence fans into a precise category: “There are many different types of customer. As a whole, Ressence appeals to people who have already been into watches for some time, looking for an unusual timepiece to add a new twist to a well-established collection. Then again you get the occasional mum wanting a Ressence as a gift for one of their children!”

Following on from these encouraging beginnings, Laurent Picciotto is naturally – spontaneously, almost inevitably – looking to the future. When asked if he has any idea of what lies ahead for the brand, he responds with a smile which brooks no doubt. Could he possibly say a word – just one – to give connoisseurs a hint of what might be in store? He duly lets slip a single word: “Devastating.” And then his lips are sealed – at least for the time being. 

Make no mistake, the winds of change in watchmaking may well be blowing… from Belgium. 

 

Journalist : Olivier Mûller 12/2012