“I’ve been living for the weekend but no not anymore
‘Cause here comes that familiar feeling that Friday’s famous for
Yeah, I’m looking for some action and it’s out there somewhere
You can feel the electricity on in the evening air”
Cee-Lo Green had a captivating way of describing the nightlife in his 2010 hit song “Bright Lights, Bigger City”. The same can be said of the way Richard Mille enters the world of bright lights and bigger cities. A “normal” Richard Mille, when there even is such a thing, already has a way of becoming a conversation piece, simply by defying the ground rules of watchmaking by embracing them in a high-tech way. But even in the ultra exclusive world of Richard Mille there is a niche….a niche where high-tech becomes Haute Joaillerie, and Haute Joaillerie becomes high-tech, a niche where diamonds dance under the strict choreography of the Maestro himself.
Diamonds, Haute Joaillerie and Richard Mille may sound like an odd combination of the man that gave us the RM-25 diving watch, Bubba Watson Tourbillon and a split-second chronograph tourbillon with sapphire case. Yet for those familiar with the career of Mille this cannot come as a surprise. As former CEO of the renowned French jeweler Mauboussin he knows the world of Haute Joaillerie and diamonds like no other. In the past Mille has already shown us that high-tech watchmaking and a fair degree of elegance can form a perfect marriage with a perfect example being his “Hommage à Boucheron“. With the Haute Joaillerie version of the RM-16 he shows us that you can even take it a step further.
Before we continue on about this unique watch it is important to known that there is also another Haute Joaillerie version of the RM-16. Following a slightly more traditional path, this watch is crafted out of white gold, with a pave setting of colorless, brilliant cut diamonds. The RM-16 featured in this article though clearly breaks away from any traditional approach, and with that it defies the rules of tradition once more.
It all starts with the rectangle that the RM-16 is. With a height of 8.25mm at the thickest part, it is certainly one of the more slender watches from the Richard Mille collection. Despite a generous case size of 49.8mm long and 38mm wide the watch does wear surprisingly comfortable, thanks to the integrated strap. The watch is powered by caliber RM-005S, a movement mainly known for its adjustable rotor geometry. This allows the owner to change the inertia of the rotor, and with it match the winding process with its lifestyle. The skeletonized and in monochrome colors adorned movement displays hours, minute and central seconds on a transparent dial with bold Arabic numerals. Typical Mille is the date, which is displayed in the base of the seven. Easy to read, yet not dictating the overall look of the dial in a very prominent way.
This particular RM-16 is a marriage of contrasts. Yet being the jeweler that Richard Mille secretly is, this does not result in a busy mix-and-match of textures and materials, but in a rather polished and rare example of a place in the universe where Haute Horlogerie, Haute Joaillerie and even a dash of Haute Couture meet. This RM-16 is a rockstar in its own right and ready to take on the nightlife of any major metropolis. It’s red gold case, especially in heavy contrast with the monochrome colored movement and black strap, demands attention! Attention is also what the case received upon creation, since it took 202 separate operations to craft it, excluding the work that needed to be done to accommodate the diamond setting.
And then, there are the diamonds. Being the hardest, natural material on earth, diamonds may look as a frivolous addition but are in fact are every bit as high-tech as the rest of this RM-16. Richard Mille opted for an usual setting, placing rows of colorless, brilliant cut diamonds on the front side of the case, while leaving a deliberate and distinct space between the rows of diamonds. This creates a pint-stripe effect that greatly influences the overall look of the watch.To place the diamonds, long slots are carved into the gold case, from which out of the sides prongs are formed to hold the individual diamonds. A very precise job only to be trusted to very experienced diamond setters and especially with this RM-16. Because the top and bottom of the watch curve down to meet the wrist, the diamonds have to be set there at an angle. As difficult as this is to make, the result is equally spectacular, catching light from every angle, and making this particular RM-16 indeed ready for Bright Lights, Bigger City!
Special thanks to Gino Cukrowicz of Ginotti for providing the RM-16 for the photo shoot.
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics