Richard Mille’s quest to have some of his most favorite sports men and women wear his watches, while in action, has always been ruled by two basic principles: 1) That the timepiece must withstand rigorous conditions and maintain its chronometric integrity while in play and 2) that the watch must never at any point in time cause the athlete discomfort and, therefore, become a hindrance.
Principle number one is addressed by the formidable watchmaking knowhow that Richard Mille has amassed over 16 years of pushing boundary after boundary. This has enabled the creation of watches such as the recent RM 27-03, a watch that is able to withstand 10,000 Gs and weighs all of 34 grams.
But the greatest of these feats might stand today as the RM 50-03, which manages to pack in a complete split-seconds chronograph in a watch that’s just 40 grams and is still able to withstand 5,000 Gs.
There’s another watch in the collection of watches that Richard Mille’s created for his athlete friends that makes the claim to be shock resistant up to 5,000 Gs. This the RM 27-01. It’s a remarkable watch that has its movement engineered out of titanium and a lithium alloy, which not only makes for a feather-light movement but an extremely robust one as well that is able to function without question, while Nadal’s taking care of business on the tennis court. Most astounding of all, is the fact that the watch’s entire movement is held in place using four steel braided cables, which secure its baseplate to the case of the watch. All of this precarious and audacious engineering, and the watch is still able to hold its own against some 5,000 Gs. And just how much does the RM 27-01 weigh?
The RM 27-01 is the lightest watch within Richard Mille’s present armory, weighing in at an unfathomable 18.83 grams.
It would appear that there is a pattern here that we must appreciate. Richard Mille’s most extreme watches also happen to be some of his — and the world’s — lightest mechanical watches.
This is where principle two comes into light, i.e. the watch’s wearability in extreme situations; that it cannot be allowed to become a hindrance of any sort to the athlete who is meant to be wearing it while in action. Here, the lightness of a watch can be a great boon, because if it can be so light that you are able to forget that you are even wearing it, then there can’t be anything to complain about.
Of course, if lightness is all you focus on and seek out skimpy materials as a result, then Richard Mille would end up compromising on principle number one; a big no, no. How does Richard Mille then strike a balance between the two principles? Let’s discuss this by considering the newest addition to Richard Mille’s extreme sport watches that exemplifies this concisely: The RM 67-02 Automatic Wayde Van Niekerk – Sprint and RM 67-02 Automatic Mutaz Essa Barshim – High Jump, which are two distinct watches created of the same RM 67-02.
The RM 67-02’s case is formed out of a proprietary carbon based material called, Quartz TPT® which is composed of over 600 layers of parallel filaments obtained from separating silica threads. These layers, no thicker than 45 microns, are saturated in colored resins as necessary for the watch in question. The layers are then worked between one another using an automatic positioning system that changes the orientation of the fiber between each layer by 45° to build up a solid piece that can be worked on.
The caseband on the watch is made from Carbon TPT®, which is created using the same process as that of Quartz TPT®, except that carbon threads are used here rather than the aforementioned silica threads.
Once the components for the three-part case have done up in their raw forms the arduous milling process can then begin to carve out that which can finally form the Richard Mille case.
Quartz TPT® is known to be used in high-performance applications due to its resistance to high temperatures, strength and inertness to electromagnetic effects. Which when translated to a watch case results in one that can withstand the harshest of dings and impacts — supposedly — unscathed. The best bit is that the material has phenomenal strength to weight ratio, which basically means that it’s as light as it is strong. And, therefore, a Quartz TPT® watch case ends up weighing close to nothing.
The movement created for the RM 67-02 has been named the CRMA7 and is the seventh in-house developed caliber of Richard Mille’s. It is constructed vastly out of grade 5 titanium and is extensively skeletonized to eliminate weight. The rotor on this automatic movement is crafted out of Quartz TPT® with white gold used just for the counter weight; again, to only add heavy mass where necessary.
But it’s not simply doing away with material and working with light-weight space age material for the cool factor alone. The focus here is Richard Mille’s principle number one, which is that the watch and its movement must be able to retain its chronometric integrity under intense use scenarios.
Therefore, the CRMA7 isn’t simply engineered to do away with whatever weight can be avoided, but do so and result in a movement that is markedly more robust than your average time only automatic caliber.
While most may not make too much of it, Richard Mille — because he’s had athletes wearing his watches during their games — made it a point to make every part of the watch, including the strap, easy and comfortable enough to wear through long hours of competition.
This started with the development of specialized rubber straps for Felipe Massa that would allow for ample airflow while worn during the hot race days on the track. Later Nadal’s RM 027 received a double-closure Velcro® strap that soon became a staple among many of Richard Mille’s sports performance watches.
The next step forward in Richard Mille’s strap technology, on first sight, looks almost like a simple hair tie retrofitted onto the lugs of the watch to allow a person to simply slip the watch over the wrist. The idea is really that simple. But, of course, knowing that this is Richard Mille, the elastic material used is also not just your average store bought stuff.
It’s been very simply named the Richard Mille Comfort strap. The material used to create it is formed out of a specially formulated weave that ensures elasticity and security when worn on the wrist. Its functional form eliminates the need for a buckle, which leads to added comfort.
What does all of this add up to? Well, thanks to the foresight that has gone into the case, movement and strap construction, Richard Mille is able to boast that the RM 67-02 is his lightest automatic watch yet, weighing in at a ridiculous 32 grams.