Remember the Ressence Type 2 smartwatch? The one that was unveiled early in 2018, and designed with the help of iPod co-creator Tony Fadell? The watch’s creators promised to solve some of the long-standing problems with high-end mechanical timepieces–and also hinted that the Type 2 would have a matching price tag.
Well, almost exactly a year later, we’ve learned that the watch will cost $48,800 when it debuts next April. That’s 32 times the price of the most expensive Apple Watch, the $1,500 Hermes Series 4.
The luxury smartwatch is loaded with technological feats–two of them–that are aimed at improving mechanical timepieces. One is a series of high-performance photovoltaic cells, like the ones used in satellites, that can recharge its 36-hour battery. These cells only appear when needed, revealed by a set of micro-shutters.
The other is something called the e-Crown. It’s the only digital component in an otherwise purely mechanical watch. The e-Crown can do three things: First, switch between two time zones that can be stored in the watch–time zones that you can set by pushing a lever on the back of the watch or using an app that connects the Type 2 and your phone via Bluetooth.
Second, the e-Crown checks the mechanical watch mechanism to adjust it every day so it’s always perfect. While other high-end mechanical watches can lose or gain time each day, the e-Crown is an electro-mechanical device that corrects the Type 2’s mechanical timekeeping errors. Every day, this custom-made printed circuit board compares its digital time to the analog time showed by the watch’s hands. Then it automatically adjusts the latter time so it’s correct. That means that once you set the time on the Type 2, you’ll never have to adjust it again. For comparison, the previous previous mechanical king–the $30,500 Zenith Defy Lab–can accumulate 0.3 seconds of error per day.
Lastly, the e-Crown is also used to detect if you’re not wearing the watch. If it’s not on your wrist, the Type 2 will stop its mechanism to save battery power. When you put it on again, it automatically resets the time to the correct hour, minute, and second.
And that’s… about it. Call me old-school, but for roughly $43,000 less, I’d rather pick up a regular old mechanical timepiece–a $5,000 Omega Speedmaster, for instance. It may not be perfect, but it’s precise enough to take astronauts to the Moon. But if you’ve got money to spare, Ressence says the Type 2 will go into production later this spring.