Angus Davies reviews the Richard Mille RM 038, a watch made for Bubba Watson, the recent winner of the Augusta Masters.
Image – Jens Honoré for Richard Mille
In recent days Bubba Watson has secured victory at the Masters in Augusta.
A physical giant, standing at 6 foot 3 inches tall, he strikes the ball with incredible force resulting in him leading the US PGA tour in driving distance, averaging 313.1 yards.
Bubba is a refreshing change from the usual golfers on the PGA tour. He is self-taught and has developed his own very personal style.
Many golfers have spent years being coached, holding their club a particular way, having their swing honed by video analysis, not so Bubba.
Wearing his all white attire with pink detailing, he uses a pink driver in support of charities. On his website Bubba states “helping these charities and more importantly, the families involved, can be more rewarding than winning a golf tournament”. I doubt this is a mantra espoused by many sports coaches.
Image – Jens Honoré for Richard Mille
Bubba has a down to earth persona and talks of his humble origins and his upbringing in Bagdad, Florida. He openly showed his emotions, tears streaming down his face as he celebrated clinching victory at the Masters, hugging his mother in affectionate embrace.
During the Masters, in his play-off against Louis Oosterhuizen his ball landed in the woods. The undergrowth should have put paid to his ambitions and frustrated his aspirations. However, Bubba said after striking the ball with such ferocity that golfing wisdom would have suggested impending failure, “It was just a crazy shot I saw in my head”. The ball landed on the green. This is not a man who follows convention.
It is, therefore, no surprise that he wears an unconventional wristwatch, a Richard Mille RM 038.
The dial is unlike any other brand of watch. The design language of Richard Mille watches is inspired by Formula One. A skeletonised hour and minute hand are the few details faithful to orthodox horology.
Bridges resemble anti-roll bars in their form and straddle the dial. They are not formed of untreated silver nor do they bear Côte de Genève motif in keeping with other hi-end timepieces on the market. Richard Mille has never followed the crowd.
Bridges, plate and balance cock are made of grade 5 titanium all visible via the sapphire crystal fitted to the front and rear of the case. This is not horological pornography designed merely to titillate, there is merit in the selection of materials used. The grade 5 titanium bestows a lightness which ensures no incumberance to the wearer. This key benefit is underlined by Bubba Watson, Felipe Massa and Rafael Nadal all choosing to wear their Richard Mille watches whilst performing their chosen sports.
The wearer is able to enjoy the spectacle of horological mastery, the tourbillon cage revolving to counter the effects of gravity. But unlike, some tourbillons which need to be cosetted to ensure longevity is preserved, Richard Mille imparts a robust construction to its models to make them eminently wearable.
Richard Mille has never sought expedience when designing its watches and this is perfectly demonstrated with the case design. The tripartite case is constructed of three key elements; top, sides and bottom. The profile of the case sides marries perfectly, the top and bottom exactly aligned to prevent ingress of dust or moisture which could ruin the valuable workings within.
Two Nitril O-rings fitted between the case sides and the front and back further mitigates the risk of the water resistance being compromised.
The case is the fruit of countless machine processes to provide the striking silhouette synonymous with this glamorous brand. Twelve spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel clench like a clam-shell, protecting the inner workings from potential harm.
The striking thing about the case is the colour, a whiter shade of pale. Made of extremely rugged Magnesium WE54, the electro-plasma oxidation treatment named Miarox®, provides the unique hue. It is this treatment, typically used in aerospace, automotive and medical sectors which affords the case scratch and corrosion resistance.
A tourbillon is one of the most complex complications and normally can prove heavier and more delicate than more pedestrian offerings. However, this is no ordinary movement. It is strong and light.
The light weight of the rotating barrel increases its speed and by default its accuracy.
The choice of the materials for the movement dispenses with convention, not for the sake of change, but rather approaching horology with a different sense of perspective. The results are spectacular.
The beauty of the RM038 tourbillon calibre is in being able to see the cogs and gears industriously working through the sapphire crystal. The calibre is delivered in a unique form and constructed of hi-tech materials.
Richard Mille does not short change its clientele when it comes to finissage. This is exemplary with burnished pivots, polished sinks and the steel parts bevelled and polished.
Richard Mille has not followed accepted norms, copied other masters or followed the pack. The RM 038 is a refreshing change from the approach taken by many watches manufacturers who some would argue appear to offer homogenous watches which lack originality.
Richard Mille has chosen a unique course with the RM 038, a bit like Bubba Watson’s approach to playing the game of golf.
Whilst Bubba has succeeded on the green’s of Augusta, Richard Mille has mastered the green valleys of the Swiss watchmaking indsutry with the innovative RM 038.
Model: Richard Mille RM038
Case: Magnesium WE54; dimensions 48.00 mm x 39.70 mm; height 12.80 mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and back.
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.