Yesterday (or early this morning, depending on where you live), Richard Mille hosted a rare and first global launch event to announce a new timepiece, the RM 50-04 Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph, together with the lead driver of its partner F1 team Alfa Romeo Racing, Kimi Räikkönen. Held at the Capella Hotel in Singapore, this is the first watch to officially bear the colours of the F1 team.
The movement powering the watch is the caliber RM 50-03, an icon of the brand first seen in the RM 50-03 announced in 2017. The original watch was designed in partnership with the McLaren F1 team. The movement itself weighs just 7 grams, achieved by extreme skeletonisation of components and using highly specialised alloys such as a titanium-vanadium-aluminium mix for the baseplate and bridges. Select bridges are crafted in Carbon TPT as well as the transverse carriage that supports the entire movement and is connected to the caseband. The benefit of this is that the movement is perfectly integrated into the case, which further enhances its shock resistance. The movement has been tested in the RM 50-03 to 5,000 Gs.
The brand’s first tourbillon split-seconds chronograph was the RM 008, definitively the 21st century’s first new split-seconds chronograph design. Since then the calibre has evolved to incorporate several improvements such as a new column wheel with just 6 columns for sturdier and reliable operation, as well as a new clamp design that has improved on the rattrapante’s operation, which also reduces the impact on the amplitude when the split is activated.
Räikkönen, in an interview just prior to the launch of the watch, spoke about wearing the watch while driving the C38 single-seater. “I’ve never really been the guy to wear a watch because it was uncomfortable and it never appealed to me. So, I was a bit sceptical when we signed the deal and I knew it was another watch brand, but once I got my watch, I was so surprised. I never really did use a watch in the past, but now, I don’t even notice it. It’s a completely different philosophy that drives [Richard Mille]. Now I don’t even notice when I’m wearing it and it’s a great looking watch and it doesn’t weigh anything. It suits me completely.”
He added that he had worn some other Richard Mille pieces (including the RM 67-02 that he was sporting before the interview) during test drives but not on the track in a F1 race (yet).
Timothée Malachard, marketing director for Richard Mille, added, “That’s exactly what we want in our partnerships. This watch mustn’t hinder the day to day activity of our partner sportspersons. Ergonomics and lightweight materials are the tools we use to achieve that performance, which is why we work with our drivers and partners like [Rafael] Nadal, [Romain] Grosjean, Kimi and more. We want the watch to be comfortable and not get in the way.”