Guitar Aficionado

Performance Art: Richard Mille

Founded a little more than 10 years ago, watchmaker Richard Mille has created some outstanding pieces, including this latest trio.
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by Christopher Scapelliti

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Richard Mille was founded a little more than 10 years ago, but in its first decade the watchmaker has created some outstanding pieces. The concept of performance, be it technical or chronometric, has been at the heart of the company's timepieces, as evidenced by the use of high-performance materials and complex movements, such as the split-seconds chronograph movement in its RM 050 Felipe Massa tourbillon.

Richard Mille's three new watches exemplify this trend and include two pieces that are offered in very limited editions:

  •  The RM 031 High Performance is a limited edition of 10 pieces in platinum.
  •  The RM 039 E6B Tourbillon Aviator is a limited edition of 30 pieces in titanium.
  •  And the RM 055 Bubba Watson is housed in a white case made of AZT aluminum oxide and rubber-injected titanium.

No word yet on prices or availability, but you'll want to move fast to claim one of the 10 RM 031 pieces. If it's not already too late.

The caliber RM031 is equipped with an AP direct-impulse escapement. Developed by APR&P for Audemars Piguet, this new escapement provides improved chronometric results and reaches a chronometric variation of only zero to 30 seconds per month.

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The baseplate and bridges are machined from ARCAP, a material used for the first time in watchmaking in the Richard Mille caliber RM002. ARCAP is renowned for its physical characteristics, which include corrosion resistance and anti-magnetic properties. These qualities explain its frequent use in the aerospace, automobile, and advanced electronics industries.

These superlative technical characteristics are combined with outstanding hand-finishing operations, evident on the the microblasted baseplate and escapement-holder; the polished, microblasted, beveled and circular-grained wheels; the burnished sections; and the soft-polished escapement bridges.

The new round 50mm case is made in four parts according to an exceptionally complex design, and has been chamfered, polished, and brushed for a unique finish.

Aviation and aeronautics have always been sources of inspiration for Richard Mille. As such, materials—including titanium, carbon nanofiber, honeycombed orthorhombic titanium aluminide, ARCAP, and even tungsten carbide—have all found applications in the collection, stepping out of the aeronautical world and into the realms of watchmaking for the first time.

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To explore these themes in greater depth, Richard Mille has created a caliber designed for flight navigation. The RM 039 Aviation E6-B displays much of the same information provided by the famous E6-B flight computer, invented in the U.S. in the 1930s. This round slide rule, incorporated into the bidirectional rotating bezel, can be used to read off and calculate fuel burn, flight times, ground speed, density altitude or wind correction, as well as provide the fast conversion of units of measurement, such as nautical miles, kilometers, gallons, liters, feet, kilograms, and pounds.

The RM 039 tourbillon caliber is also equipped with a UTC hand, a countdown mode, an oversize date at 12 o’clock and a function selector. The tourbillon movement drives a flyback chronograph featuring an exclusive design developed over many years. This unique complication, the first of its kind in the world, provides pilots with a fast, practical device for measuring a series of successive elapsed times when navigating through different marker points. The flyback chronograph function combined with the E6-B flight computer brings the possibility of real time measurement to its functionality and applications.

Inspired by the RM 038 Bubba Watson tourbillon watch presented in 2011, the RM 055 features an extremely skeletonized mechanical movement in grade-5 titanium with a PVD- and Titalyt-treated baseplate and bridges. This combination provides the whole structure with optimum rigidity and excellent surface flatness and finish, essential aspects for the perfect functioning of the gear train. The caliber RMUL2 is thus capable of withstanding accelerations of over 500-G’s.The movement is equipped with a variable-inertia balance wheel, which ensures reliability in the event of impacts and during assembly and dismantling, thus improving the long-term accuracy of the timepiece.

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To meet the demanding requirements of sportsmen, the RM 055’s case has an ATZ bezel made from tubes of aluminum-oxide powder injected at a pressure of nearly 2,000 bars. This high-pressure injection increases rigidity by 20 to 30 percent and reduces the material’s porosity to an absolute minimum. ATZ is known for its high degree of scratch resistance (1,400 Vickers) and its unchangeable color. Next to diamond, it is one of the hardest materials in the world.

The case middle and back bezel are in grade-5 titanium with a protective white rubber casing. This rubber is injected at high pressure around the titanium components, thus insulating the movement from all vibrations.

For more information, check Richard Mille's website.