High Performance: Richard Mille and McLaren

When, after a quarter-century, McLaren Cars became McLaren Automotive in 2010, the world did not have long to wait before the full power of Ron Dennis’s new division was unleashed. Now incorporated under the McLaren Technology Group umbrella (since June 2017 sans Dennis), the past seven years have seen the company and its cars go stratospheric. After overcoming early problems, the same period saw the company deliver some of the most awe-inspiring supercars of a generation.

Since the debut of its first Formula 1 car, the Robin Herd-designed M2B, at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, the name McLaren has struck fear and envy in the hearts of all competitors in the world of motorsport. In 1981, McLaren’s designer John Barnard was the first to use a carbon-fibre monocoque in a racing car, with the MP4/1, which introduced new standards of lightness and rigidity into motor racing.

Mexican Grand Prix, 1966. Bruce McLaren in action in the McLaren M2B-Ford car.
Mexican Grand Prix, 1966. Bruce McLaren in action in the McLaren M2B-Ford car.
The McLaren MP4/1 of 1981, designed by John Barnard was the first to use a carbon fibre monocoque
The McLaren MP4/1 of 1981, designed by John Barnard was the first to use a carbon fibre monocoque

The work of Gordon Murray followed and, in 1992, the F1 was launched – at the time the world’s fastest road car – with a total production run of just 106 units. The intervening years have seen the 12C, the Spider, the P1 and the 650S, as well as a new Sports Series range comprising the 570S and 540C.

McLaren F1 25th Anniversary Tour in Bordeaux with Richard Mille
The McLaren F1 when it was launched in 1992, was the fastest road car in existence at the time. The car was designed by Formula One car designer, Gordon Murray with only 106 cars ever made.

It came as little surprise in 2016 when racing team McLaren-Honda chose a new timing partner: Richard Mille. In many ways, the brand is the watch world’s own version of an F1 team. Like McLaren in motor racing, Richard Mille is a pioneer in the goal for low weight and high power, only applied to timepieces. As with F1 vehicles, it is achieved through on-going research into and development of high tech materials. In fact, engineers in both companies have pushed the limits of carbon-fibre, titanium, gold, magnesium, lithium and Kevlar.

Time is now for Mille and McLaren

Today, at the 88th edition of the world-renowned Geneva International Motor Show, McLaren Automotive and Richard Mille launched their first collaborative timepiece: the RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph, a limited-edition of 500 pieces priced at CHF 180,000 plus tax.

Read about the complete legacy of the Richard Mille RM 011, here.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph

To be made available mainly to McLaren Ultimate Series clients, the RM 11-03 McLaren was created in close collaboration between McLaren Design Director Rob Melville and Richard Mille Engineer Fabrice Namura. It has been in development since McLaren Automotive and Richard Mille partnered last year, the watch symbolising  and uniting the two companies’ mutual interest in unique design, the use of new materials and modern craftsmanship. These influences are manifested in the watch, along with design cues taken from McLaren’s range of luxury sportscars and super cars.

McLaren Design Director Rob Melville with the McLaren 720S
McLaren Design Director Rob Melville with the McLaren 720S

For the case of the RM 11-03 McLaren, Richard Mille chose Carbon TPT® interlaced with Orange Quartz TPT®. This has created an extremely rugged yet lightweight case while also paying tribute to a colour that is synonymous with McLaren. For the chronograph’s titanium pushers. The designers chose to echo the design of the McLaren 720S’ distinctive headlights. Titanium inserts recall the shape of the legendary McLaren F1 road car’s air-intake snorkel and bear the McLaren logo.

Pushers and crown on the Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph (Image: richardmille.com)

Owners will enjoy handling the complex grade 5 titanium crown, which is shaped like a McLaren lightweight wheel. A further aesthetic connection to McLaren vehicles is the incorporation of the McLaren Speedmark logo into the rubber strap, specifically developed for this watch.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph

As with a race car, the motor is the beating heart. Inside the RM 11-03 McLaren is the automatic RMAC3 movement, first launched in 2016, with a flyback chronograph and 55-hour power reserve. The flyback facility produces the instantaneous return of the counter to zero that makes possible the rapid restart of the stopwatch function. Richard Mille devised appropriately advanced baseplate and bridges for the RM 11-03 McLaren, opting for PVD-treated grade 5 titanium, which enhances the appearance while enabling the gear train to function effortlessly. Displayed on the dial of the RM 11-03 is an annual calendar, oversized date and the 12-hour chronograph and countdown counters.

McLaren clients will be able to view the timepiece on the McLaren stand for the duration of the 88th Geneva International Motor Show.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph
Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph