Restyling is a crucial element in the life cycle of any product. A watch must be vital, integrated into the natural stylistic development of a brand. A fixture of the Richard Mille collection since 2007, the RM 011 is taking its final bows. Retiring at the height of its glory, it will make way for the new RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph. The RM 11-03 Flyback Chronograph is in every sense a sports watch, proudly displaying the brand’s new aesthetic and heavily inspired by automotive history. The guiding principle for Richard Mille was to imbue the new automatic RMAC3 calibre with a three-dimensional quality and to bring its complexity to the fore visually. The glossy, beveled rims marked with intermediate times surrounding the colored counters of the flyback chronograph and seconds window confer depth. This sense of volume is further accentuated by an upper bridge in satin-brushed grade-5 titanium that contrasts with the movement (which is also crafted of titanium, but with a PVD coating). The combination creates a visual itinerary that sweeps around the annual calendar with its oversize date, as well as the 12-hour counter and countdown function of the flyback chronograph.
The maze continues on the back of the caliber with a satin-brushed PVD-treated lower bridge that highlights the double barrel mechanism and modern lines of the brand’s new variable-geometry rotor in grade-5 titanium, inspired by the aerodynamic appendages seen in Formula 1 racing. This technical solution, a Richard Mille exclusive, makes it possible to adjust automatic winding of the watch to the wearer’s activity level by varying the inertia of the rotor thanks to two microblasted and chamfered wings in 18K white gold. Offering six possible positions, the grade-5, satin-brushed, PVD-treated titanium rotor is mounted on ceramic ball bearings.
Performance is another focus of the watch, thanks to the new RMAC3 automatic caliber. The entire flyback chronograph movement is designed for optimal rigidity, and the grade-5 titanium employed for the baseplate and bridges ensures high-performance functioning of its gear trains. Two barrels, mounted side by side, ensure stable coupling while providing a power reserve of around 55 hours. The 4Hz free-sprung balance is highly resistant to shocks and can be tuned more precisely than a traditional balance wheel.
The brand’s designers have also reworked the three-part tonneau case, modernizing its lines and lending it a sportier, more dynamic character while keeping the essence of the watch.
Skilled workmanship and extremely protracted machining times are required to achieve the level of ergonomics and finishing—unique in the world of haute horology—that this case exhibits. Chamfering and buffing the surfaces, which is completed entirely by hand, is a delicate and time-consuming task. This silhouette, which first appeared on the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal, has become a distinguishing characteristic of all of Richard Mille’s sports watches, differentiating them from lifestyle models while reinforcing their structural integrity.
Design details reminiscent of automobile racing abound in the RM 11-03. The grade-5 titanium crown borrows the design of competition wheel rims and tire treads. Also machined in titanium, grooved pushers recall the surface of pedals, and boast covers made of another ubiquitous material in Formula 1: NTPT carbon. As always with Richard Mille, the entire mechanism can be admired through the antireflective coated sapphire crystal that reveals the caliber. The case, available in red gold or titanium, is held together by 20 grade-5 titanium spline screws.
In 2016, Richard Mille introduced the North Thin Ply Technology (company NTPT®) on two of its women’s models: the RM 07-01 and the RM 037. To mark this occasion, the brand launched exclusive versions combining quartz or carbon with gold leaf. This new interpretation is still based on the principle of inserting layers of quartz TPT™ or carbon TPT™ at a 45° angle, in this case alternating with dozens of gold leaf layers, none of which are more than 10 microns thick. As gold is a noble material in chemical terms, it was very difficult for the company NTPT® and Richard Mille engineers to ensure it “fused” correctly with carbon and quartz.
This procedure accentuates the specific characteristics of these materials, which in turn enhance the contours of the cases they adorn thanks to the unique play of light they create and their extremely attractive graduation of golden tones. The overall look is enhanced by a satin-brushed 5N red-gold caseband with polished pillars, and a dial set with hundreds of diamonds and a center in either mother-of-pearl or black onyx.
Carbon TPT™ has revealed a feminine side with the RM 07-01 and the RM 037, boasting a gem-set carbon TPT™ of unsurpassed elegance.
At the slightest wrist movement, all eyes are riveted by a striking contrast between the sparkle of clear diamonds and the matte carbon contour that graces both of these automatic timepieces.
Setting gemstones in carbon TPT™ is a new adventure for the brand. Unlike gold, which can be worked directly with tools to create the prongs that will hold the diamonds, the hardness and resistance of carbon TPT™ mean special computer-controlled milling machines, equipped with diamond tools, are required to drill the holes involved in a pavé setting. Hand-polished prongs in red or white gold are produced separately and then inserted around the many 0.25mm bearings destined to firmly contain diamonds—as many as 250 in the case of an RM 037 Set model. The perfectly flush surface of each creation bears witness to an absolute mastery of this art.
Fifty years of automotive passion. Fifty years down an exceptional career path. At Chantilly Art & Elegance 2016 the brand celebrated alongside the man who wrote the greatest pages of motor sports history with an amazing Jubilee. In honor of his friend, Richard Mille has now dedicated three models to him, each bearing Jean Todt’s name and favorite colors: the RM 11-03, RM 050 and RM 056 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary.
Jean Todt and Richard Mille have forged a strong friendship based on their shared passions: watchmaking, extreme fondness for technology and all things automotive. “I love the watches designed by Richard. I love their lightness, their technicity and their exclusivity,” shares Todt.
The two men share a mutual recognition as equally obsessive, detail-oriented and demanding in their respective fields, as is clearly illustrated by the special Jean Todt series.
The RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary is protected by a new blue and white quartz TPT™ case. Extremely resistant and light, this composite is obtained by stacking 600 layers of silica only 45 microns thick, which are then impregnated with an exclusive Richard Mille blue resin. The assembly is then heated to 120°C before being machined in the watch brand’s factory.
RM 050 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary
Blue quartz TPT™ is also used for the case of the RM 050 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary. This caliber houses a split-seconds chronograph regulated by a tourbillon. The extreme skeletonization of the bridges and baseplate, combined with the use of titanium and carbon nanofiber, made it possible to obtain a particularly light movement, weighing only 9.5g but offering startling performance. This exceptional mechanism also animates the final piece of the Jean Todt collection: the RM 056, which is housed in a sapphire case. Its construction and curvature require both human ingenuity and very long machining times, essential to achieving this level of ergonomics and finish, unique even in fine watchmaking. This model required no fewer than 1,000 hours of machining per case, including 430 hours devoted to grinding and 350 hours of polishing.
The 11-03, RM 050 and RM 056 in the Jean Todt collection are produced in limited editions of 150, five and three pieces, respectively.