SIHH 2013 PuristSPro Report: Richard Mille (A. Hildreth & PuristSPro Team)
Last Year's (2012) Star of the Show: TOURBILLON RM 056 SPLIT SECONDS COMPETITION CHRONOGRAPH FELIPE MASSA SAPPHIRE
2013 Brand Theme : New classification of Richard Mille model numbers.
Richard Mille has decided to classify the watches in families according to their characteristic themes and complications. For example, the models in the RM 011 family, all automatic sport watches equipped with a flyback chronograph, will be renamed the RM 11-01, RM 11-02, etc. Meanwhile, those in the RM 056 family of tourbillon calibers featuring sapphire-crystal cases will henceforth be known as the RM 56-01, RM 56-02, and so on.
These new names will also be extended to the brand’s new collections.
2013 Star of the Show: TOURBILLON RICHARD MILLE RM 59-01 YOHAN BLAKE
At this year’s SIHH Richard debuted the RM059 Yohan Blake. Much speculation preceded this year’s SIHH with what the new Yohan Blake watch would look like. Not the one that was worn at the Olympic Games in the summer (although I will come back to that); no, the one that would be a limited edition and be individual to Yohan Blake, his tastes, his style, his watch. The watch that Blake wore at the Games, and that caused furor, was basically an adapted RM038.
But the colour scheme for the RM059 is even more extreme, even more telling and the bridges for the watch resembled the ‘clawing’ action of Blake’s hands before the 100m and 200m finals. There is no substitute for seeing and feeling the watch for yourself. Trying the watch on, I loved the way it seemed to mould to the wrist, become part of my arm.
The man who will actually be wearing it racing, and who influenced the design, was on hand to discuss the watch. It was a genuine pleasure to sit down with Yohan Blake and talk about watches and other areas of life now that he is a Richard Mille ambassador. Yohan Blake, who at the moment is only JUST the second fastest man on the planet (I might add that Yohan was quick to state that he was soon to be the fastest man), is quiet and unassuming and who is truly dedicated to his sport. It was not always the case that Yohan thought he would be a sprinter. Like any self-respecting Jamaican boy, he wanted to be a cricketer, and then perhaps an actor. But he shifted from cricket to athletics after the headmaster of his local school saw the speed of his run-up for bowling and advised him to change. The acting career might yet be, but he found that his sporting talents lay elsewhere: on the athletics track and in the fastest (self-powered) human race on the planet. Yohan was a born racing machine.
Blake found out he was fast, and for his age, faster than any other human on the planet. He still holds the national junior record for 100 metres and is also the youngest sprinter to ever run under the 10-second barrier. Hence, when asked in 2008 who might challenge him, Usain Bolt said that Blake would because: “He works like a beast. He’s there with me step for step in training.” The nickname: the “Beast”, stuck and Yohan Blake has used it to good effect.
Yohan came to prominence in winning the 100 metre World Championship title in 2011. He remains the youngest to hold the title as well. Although a certain other Jamaican sprinter was disqualified, Blake proved a point by beating his team-mates at the Jamaican sprint trials in the Olympic year. It is true that Blake has come to form during a ‘Golden Age’ for Jamaican sprinting. Not only do the 3 out of 5 of the world’s top sprinters come from the small Caribbean island, but on current form (and it showed in the 4 x 100m relay final at the Olympic games) they would out run any other county on earth. I asked Yohan whether he thought the squad could go faster and without a moments’ hesitation he answered in the affirmative.
Racing is what Yohan Blake does and I suppose it was natural that Richard at some point, looking for new arenas in which to compete, would turn to a sprinter to wear one of his watches. That Richard did it in such a dramatic fashion was typical of the man. While timing at the London 2012 Olympic Games may have been exclusively the preserve of Omega, and it was also a requirement of the Games that no athlete was allowed to endorse a brand while the games were being held (and up to three days after), Richard gave Yohan a watch to wear. No advertising or endorsement by Blake. But the Richard Mille watch design is so iconic, it was immediately spotted and the world’s media did the rest. With the toys firmly thrown out of pram, Omega went to the IOC, who complained, but Richard was firmly within the rules and within the bounds of permissible action.
If anyone knows the importance of time and making every second count, it is surely the man that can run under 10 metres a second. The 100 metres as a race is more complex than it looks. It might look like a frantic rush across the track, but it is also about technique to get the maximum out of yourself. But broken down, there are nuances where knowledge of technique will govern the win or loss come the finish line. At the start, there is the importance of driving from the blocks, weight down, only rising fully as you near the 20 metre mark. The next 50 metres, the sprinters will hit top speed. The final 30 metres, de-acceleration sets in and often the 100 metre race will be won or lost on who can maintain their speed most effectively to the finish line.
Blake still wears the same watch he wore in the Olympic final. He wears it everyday, training and racing. I asked if it made a difference and if he felt the watch on his wrist. He said no. He is so concentrated and focused on the race, on that finish line a short time away, that the watch is not noticed. However, it seems appropriate that Yohan Blake would wear a Swiss watch. His fastest recorded time is from the meeting at Lausanne last August ; and the Swiss do like their athletics. I asked if it was difficult to train when in Geneva and it being so cold outside the hotel. No was the answer, its not the cold; what makes it difficult to train is trying to go for a run when every 50 metres or so someone stops you for an autograph and a photograph!
Still, it was something to see: to see Yohan try on the finished RM059 for the first time. I asked to photograph Yohan Blake with the new watch on his wrist. This was the first time he had actually seen it; tried it on. And then, something that almost all of us (including yours truly) would do: he puts the watch on his wrist, takes out his mobile phone, and takes pictures of it to send to friends and family. I have to smile. Here is the man with the watch that has his name on it, and like any of us, just has to share it with others.
I asked if he planned to send the photo to his less fortunate countrymen that might have to wear a sponsors’ lesser watch. Yohan laughed and said yes, he would receive the picture and perhaps that there would be a slight envious feeling from the world’s fastest man (soon to be second fastest as Yohan pointed out). When Blake returned to Jamaica from the Olympics, Richard Mille watches became a household name and everyone wanted to see the watch. When he returns this time, with the RM059, Blake is sure the curiosity will be even more intense.
When asked about the Olympic final watch now that the RM059 is ready, I was told that later on this year, the watch that is part of Olympic history (and showed how corporate the Olympic Games have become) will be auctioned off. I think that there will also be some provenance to go with it in terms of documentation. Despite some wealthy individuals in Jamaica (and beyond) making offers for the watch, it is Yohan Blake’s wish (and Richard’s for that matter) that the watch be auctioned off to provide funds for Blake’s own foundation and charity: “YB Afraid to Dream” (http://ybafraid.com). Growing up in poverty, Blake wants to give something back, to give others the chance that he was fortunate to receive. The money will go for the underprivileged children to help support their education, their well-being, the promotion of opportunities for their future. The auction will be sometime this summer, and Yohan Blake hopes that generous watch enthusiasts will step forward to bid.
The RM059 was a collaborative effort between Richard and Yohan. Yohan had talked to Richard about the design and colouring elements that he wanted to see. And from there, and in Yohan’s own words: “Richard used his design genius to come up with a number of possible designs. “ Together, they worked on honing down to the one design that really worked for both.
The first thing that strikes you about the watch is the colour. Obviously the colour composition of the watch mirrors the colours found on the Jamaican flag. The case is a composite injected with the same carbon nanotubes that are used in the carbon casing. Only in this instance Richard has found a way to colour back the composite material. I personally like the material and the effect of the carbon nanotubes. The effect for the watch is the same ultra-light and ultra-strong case that Nadal has for his watch. The visual effect is a jelly like substance that molds or melds to the wrist.
The case is asymmetric. Although there was talk around SIHH of an aerodynamic shape, I think the design was more to accommodate the unusual bridge design than anything else. The (four) bridges fan out in a ‘claw’ like fashion that mimics Blake’s hands when he is performing his ‘Beast’ impression before the start of the race. The green and yellow colour bridges are actually made from an alloy composed in part from aluminum, magnesium, silicon and lead. The bridges and the plates holding the gear train are integral to the movement. The whole structure is then screwed into the case mid-section. As ever, the tourbillon movement is finished to Richard’s exacting standards. There is still the highest of haute horologerie.
Would I buy the watch? Well, now I have seen it, yes I think I would! It is so very different, so very funky. It will be noticed when Yohan races with it this summer and it would be noticed on anyone’s wrist. As a racing machine for the wrist; it is on the wrist of the (very soon) world’s fastest human racing machine.
Other Novelties 2013.
TOURBILLON RM 56-01 SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL
You think you are imagining the watch. You think it’s an apparition that is taking form in front of your eyes… and to an extent you are right. What you imagine is a watch, as you focus your gaze, it becomes a watch… it’s the RM 56-01. In 2012, the RM056 knocked the SIHH show sideways. This year, Richard went one better: not only is the case made from crystal, but the plates and some of the bridges as well. What you are left with is something that you stare at repeatedly picking out where each part lies within the watch.
I don’t know how many fellow Purists out there have read Peter Carey’s book: Oscar and Lucinda? It tells the tale of two compulsive and passionate gamblers who make a bet. Lucinda bets Oscar that (her entire inheritance) that he cannot transport the glass church to the Australian Outback safely. For some reason, starring at the RM 56-01 at SIHH, I could not help but think back to the story and see parallels with Richard’s ‘bet’ (he is always gambling with his reputation!) to the watch industry that he could pull off yet another ‘show-stopper’ of a watch. And he did!
I thought last year’s RM056 was fabulous and I was fortunate to be shown around Stettler (the crystal manufacturing firm in Solothurn) to see how the case was made.( richardmille.watchprosite.com )
I saw how Richard Mille and Stettler had invested in the new crystal technology and how difficult it was to produce and polish such complex shapes. However, compared to the 3 reasonably large sections of the case, the small and delicate plates and bridges within the watch must have presented a whole new set of problems. Not least of which would be the fact that the ultrasonic cutting and polishing has to be completed without actually seeing the item that you are working on. Needless to say that with the cost of the first RM056 requiring half of Stettler’s annual output, this new RM 56-01 has moved up a notch or two.
And it is, in its own small way, a cathedral to watchmaking! What better way to demonstrate and illustrate the watchmaker’s skill than by making a crystal watch that requires each and every aspect to be viewable to the most exacting scrutiny? It is no longer the case that just with the outer pins need to be exact, but each and every screw within the watch. One wrong move and it is all visible. One poorly finished piece, never mind how small can be seen. It is arguably the pinnacle of watchmaking and the RM 56-01 does not disappoint.
It is not for the everyday wear, but as a flagship piece it is an undeniable tour de force of watchmaking, finishing, technical prowess and technology. It is stunning to see and the only downside to all this is that few will get to see it. Only 5 to be made, it will not be something you see at your local dealers at any time sooner, or later for that matter. More to the point, all 5 are pre-sold, and hence once complete will wing their way to the lucky handful.
This quest for extreme transparency within the titanium movement also led the engineers to use sapphire crystal for the central bridge and third wheel. The caliber RM 56-01, made from sapphire crystal and titanium, is immune to temperature variations and wear, thus claiming exemplary chronometric performance.
TOURBILLON RM 27-01 RAFAEL NADAL
The caliber RM27-01 is a triumph of engineering and technology. Its complex, original architecture is the result of Richard Mille’s determination to create a movement held in total suspension in the heart of its case. Inspired by suspended civil engineering infrastructures, Richard Mille wanted to adapt these modes of construction to the watchmaking sphere, occupying a space of just a few tens of millimetres.
The baseplate is attached to the case by four braided steel cables just 0.35 mm in diameter. This structure combines strength and flexibility to protect the movement, which weighs just 3.5 grammes, thanks to the use of grade 5 titanium for the baseplate and tourbillon carriage, and of aluminium lithium for the barrel bridges and gear-trains.
AUTOMATIC FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH RM 11-01 ROBERTO MANCINI
Equipped with the caliber RMAC1, this timepiece offers an annual calendar, a flyback chronograph with central minutes counter and a dial divided into periods of play. Although its operation appears extremely simple, in reality it is unique in watchmaking. The dial displays match time on the basis of two 45-minute halves and up to 15 minutes of stoppage time. Pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock once actuates the flyback function and repositions the hand at 12 o’clock, ready to start the second half. If extra time is awarded, the flyback function can be reactuated so that the watch shows the 15 minutes of extra match time and up to 5 minutes of stoppage time.
TOURBILLON G-SENSOR RM 036 JEAN TODT LIMITED EDITION (15 pieces)
Richard Mille supports his friend, Jean Todt, and the global organisation “FIA Action For Road Safety” by developing a watch capable of offering a tangible solution to road safety problems. Richard Mille’s and Jean Todt’s teams worked together closely to develop a mechanism capable of interpreting the physical constraints felt by the body during rapid decelerations to make drivers aware of the dangers linked to the road. The RM036 caliber, a tourbillon movement made entirely of grade-5 titanium and ARCAP, with a carbon-nanofiber baseplate. The manually wound mechanical caliber features hours, minutes and seconds combined with a brand-new complication: a mechanical G-sensor. The G-sensor system was developed and patented by Renaud Papi exclusively for Richard Mille, and translates the movement of a small internal mechanism to an indicator.
TOURBILLON RM 58-01 WORLD TIMER JEAN TODT LIMITED EDITION (35 pieces)
This manually winding movement has hours, minutes and a 10-day power reserve shown on an indicator at 2 o’clock. The caliber RM58-01, 34mm in diameter, is supported on a baseplate of grade 5 titanium, a material also utilized for the bridges. The tourbillon, positioned at 9 o’clock and oscillating at a frequency of 3Hz, is accommodated in a four-part case made from titanium and red gold.
The shot-blasted, satin-brushed and polished rotating bezel bears the names of 24 world cities, symbols of the international 24 time zones on its brown upper flange.
TOURBILLON RM 039 AVIATION E6-B FLYBACK CHRONOGRAPH
The caliber RM039 is a manual winding movement with hours, minutes and seconds at 6 o’clock, an oversized date display, a flyback chronograph with seconds counter, central minutes and hours at 9 o’clock, UTC and countdown modes, a function selector and a power-reserve display.
The RM 039 Aviation E6-B pilot’s watch displays practically all the information provided by the famous E6-B slide rule. Incorporated into the bidirectional rotating bezel, it can be used to read off and calculate fuel burn, flight times, ground speed and wind correction, and to quickly convert units of measurement (Naut/KM/Gallons/ Litres/Feet/KG/LBS).
Another special characteristic of the RM 039 that distinguishes it from other pilot’s watches is that it enables density altitude to be calculated using a movable indicator incorporated into the case middle at 2 o’clock: an original function brought to watchmaking for the very first time.
RM 053 Skull: Diamonds setting can be personalised.
RM 028 ORANGE
RM 055 BLACK
This message has been edited by AnthonyTsai on 2013-02-06 08:23:55 This message has been edited by AnthonyTsai on 2013-02-07 10:24:48 This message has been edited by AnthonyTsai on 2013-03-03 09:52:06