Space age horology

Angus Davies reviews the Richard Mille RM 037, a further watch from the brand that employs innovative styling and uses cutting-edge materials with interesting results.


Richard Mille RM 037

Richard Mille is a relative “new kid on the block” and has won many admiring fans from around the globe. The company has eschewed many historical norms associated with haute horology adopting cutting-edge technology and a fresh perspective on watch design.

Formula One has become increasingly technical with new age materials being sought for strength, rigidity and light weight. Richard Mille have sought inspiration from this industry, seeking the innovative not merely to differentiate themselves but to seek a superior approach to timepiece construction.

Rafael Nadal wears a Richard Mille during important Grand Slam Tennis. Whilst you may argue he is an ambassador for the brand, many watches will be worn by sports personalities at the press conference not during a key event in their calendar. However, the watch adorning the wrist of senõr Nadal is incredibly light and highly resistant to shocks. It has clearly not presented any encumbrance to his performance, based on his numerous victories.

Felipe Massa was wearing his Richard Mille RM 011 when he had his huge accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix back in 2009. Whilst Felipe fully recovered from the accident, he did suffer serious injuries at the time. Not so, the Richard Mille RM 011 he was wearing as he steered the ill-fated Ferrari.

Watches, especially complicated watches are not supposed to be like this. They are to be respected and carefully looked after. However, Richard Mille has imparted a robustness to his watches which we have not previously been accustomed to.

It is not just innovation with case construction, but also calibre design. The new Caliber CRMA1 is the companies first in-house movement and again dispenses with tradition in some key areas.

The case

I personally favour the white gold model, however, the model is available in titanium and red gold.

Richard Mille RM 037

Normally a case is constructed from one piece of metal. Richard Mille has elected to make his case from three key components; bezel, caseband and case back. This is further complicated by the cambered profile to the bezel and case back as all parts have to perfectly marry to prevent ingress of dust or moisture.

Richard Mille RM 037

The tooling required to make the case necessitates 255 tooling operations and more than 5 hours of glazing and polishing at the final stage of production.

This certainly is not perfunctory manufacture but considered fabrication and assembly more befitting formula one or aerospace industries.

The spline screws are part of the watches design language but they are fully functional and incredibly engineered. They are made from grade 5 titanium fitted in combination with abrasion resistant stainless steel washers, totalling 20 in number. They secure all the elements of the case together.

The dial

The dial is skeletonized featuring eight silicon braces straddling the dial, reminiscent of anti-roll bars on a car. The Roman numerals are laser-engraved.

Richard Mille RM 037

An over-sized date display is located under 12 o’clock. It utilises two skeletonized calendar discs over a white field and changes date virtually instantaneously. A pusher at 10 o’clock provides a simple method of correcting the date.

The crown

The crown deserves special mention. The automotive influences continue.

Richard Mille RM 037

A pusher at 4 o’clock is used to select; “W” (winding), “N (neutral) or “H” (hand setting) with an adjacent indicator showing the chosen function.

Once the function is selected, the crown can be twisted to make the necessary adjustment.

The crown is made of red gold with a rubber knurled grip. The pushers are also constructed of red gold.

The stem-crown construction is patented and unique to Richard Mille. Its design prevents the crown from being dislodged, yet facilitates simple maintenance by a watchmaker.

The movement

The Caliber CRMA1 is Richard Mille’s first in-house movement.

Richard Mille RM 037

I often wax-lyrical about finissage. Côtes de Genève, blued screws, perlage and rubies offer a visual delight I adore. However, Richard Mille does not follow this convention.

The rationale for finissage is to ensure no extraneous metal snags or mars the smooth and reliable operation of the movement.

Richard Mille does not ignore finissage, but employs Microblasted; anglage, milled section and sinks. The grade 5 titanium baseplate and bridges are subjected to electroplasma treatment. The finishing is excellent, just different from the norms of horology.

The rotor has variable geometry. The rate at which the rotor oscillates can be finely tuned depending on the activity level of the wearer.

It is this attention to detail which imparts true value to its owner and helps justify the premium price point.

Conclusion

Richard Mille does not follow convention observing the approach adopted by other watch manufacturers but seeks inspiration from the motorsport industry embracing new technology.

A short history does not diminish the pedigree of this watch manufacturer.

The paradigm of Richard Mille is unlike any other company in the premium timepiece industry. It does not follow the same path or observe the same rules but embarks on its own journey employing innovative methods to address questions and horological obstacles and to create exciting answers many of which would not have envisaged.

The Richard Mille RM 037 perfectly exemplifies this “blue sky thinking” and I commend it to the watch collecting community.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Richard Mille RM 037 
  • Model Reference: RM 037
  • Case: 18-carat white gold case; dimensions –  34.40 mm width x 52.20 mm length x 12.50 mm height; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres).
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; date.
  • Calibre Reference: Caliber CRMA1
  • Calibre: Self-winding; Frequency 28,800vph (4 Hz); 25 Jewels
  • Strap: Rubber strap

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