Hands on review of the Richard Mille RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House chronograph
The RM 67-01 Extra-Flat is one of my favourite Richard Mille watches. I like its finesse, its slender side, its contemporary style which in a way reinterprets the classic and elegant watch. This is surely why I particularly appreciate the newest reference from the Manufacture located in Les Breuleux: the RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph. Indeed, I find many common points: this fluidity, this approach more in refinement than in demonstration of power and above all... the use of a movement designed by the Richard Mille engineers .
We shall not be wrong: despite its widespread use, the "chronograph" complication is one of the most complex to develop. This also explains the very frequent use in the industry of generic movements or coming from specilized companies. The investment required to develop a reliable and high-performance chronograph movement can be considerable, but Richard Mille has this capacity, both technically and financially. Moreover, the average price of the watches sold makes it possible to absorb these costs while remaining within the brand's usual price structure. I was therefore very curious and impatient to discover this new watch which looked very promising.
I was not disappointed. The RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph is a superb achievement that convinced me from an aesthetic point of view and in terms of watchmaking content. Perhaps the most important term in the name of the watch is perhaps the most anecdotal: "lifestyle". But in fact it says a lot. Behind this word lies the desire to approach a different clientele, in search of an elegant watch, less influenced by an ultra-technical atmosphere or the world of motor sports. At Richard Mille, there is also this ability to develop watches that are totally adapted to the context for which they are made. And this faculty is obviously very useful in the development of the RM 72-01 because it is as difficult to make a watch that is easy to live with in a "standard" but varied everyday environment as it is to make a watch that is very focused and extreme.
First of all I was seduced by the design of the RM 72-01 Lifestyle Chronograph. Its dimensions are reasonable (38.4 x 47.3 x 11.7mm) and especially the thickness of the case which is considerably smaller than the case of the RM11-04 for example. The ratio between width and length and the thinness of the case contribute greatly to the feeling of elegance and fluidity. But not only that. The discreet integration of the pushers (the crown is much more prominent and visible) and the lay-out of the dial also contribute to this. In any case, the Richard Mille style is recognisable at first glance thanks to the shape and curvature of the case without forgetting the characteristic screws. The case of the RM 72-01 is available in 4 versions: in grade 5 titanium, 5N red gold, black TZP ceramic and white ATZ ceramic with red gold middlecase. I was able to discover the first two versions and these materials work very well with the design of the RM 72-01. Indeed, this approach in a more reasonable sense is perfectly suited to more traditional materials.
The point I liked the most from an aesthetic point of view is the orgaization of the dial. Richard Mille dusted off the codes and renewed the layout of the displays. While the chronograph's second hand remains central, the minute (at the top, which is logical) and hour counters are on the right side of the dial. The permanent second hand is located on the left. These three displays are connected together by a link that is either purely aesthetic or functional: the crown function selector. However, one detail should be borne in mind: at first glance, the permanent second hand could give the impression of being that of the chronograph, given its stylistic treatment similar to that of the other two counters. But of course, the central second hand is indeed that of the chronograph for obvious reasons of legibility. Finally, the date is discreetly housed at the bottom of the dial and only 3 digits acting as indexes are displayed (3, 8 and 11).
I like this asymmetrical dial lay-out because it breathes dynamism while preserving functionality. Note the graduation of the hour counter over 24 hours, which gives an indication of the movement's performance. The minute counter is graduated over 60 minutes which makes it a little more complicated to read but I prefer such a presentation, more natural and logical in my opinion.
The highlight of the show is obviously the movement bearing the reference CRMC1. First of all, it is very beautiful which doesn't spoil anything. It looks like real mechanical lace. I even come to regret the fact that it is self-winding because obviously the platinum winding mass, even when open, covers part of the movement. But it doesn't matter: the result is spectacular, in accordance with Richard Mille's strict standards, from both the technical and decorative finishing points of view. The great strength of Richard Mille movements is that they are beautiful because of their presentation and architecture, not because of their ultra-demonstrative decoration. This decoration is obviously demanding and irreproachable (bevelling, polishing, sandblasting... the contrasts between the decorative methods are subtle and a real feast for the eyes) but it is at the service of the technique and the proper presentation of the movement.
The balance wheel is rather discreet, or rather, our gaze is immediately drawn to the skeletonised bridges, to the contrast between the parts treated in grey electroplasma and the others, and above all to the contemporary and complex rendering of the movement which gathers no less than 425 components. I find the technical characteristics used in the movement of the RM 67-01, such as the free-sprung balance with variable inertia that can be adjusted by means of 4 weights, the fast-rotating barrel and the gear teeth with special profiles.
However, the CRMC1 calibre, with a power reserve of 50 hours for a frequency of 4hz, is much more than a traditional chronograph movement that would have been adapted to the Richard Mille context. It responds to three main challenges:
- to reduce the influence of the chronograph function on the running of the base movement so as not to disrupt chronometry
- to be able to measure long times
- to get a precise triggering
The fundamental principle of this calibre is the split of the torque between the different chronograph counters. The chronograph seconds wheel thus operates in a way that is dissociated from the display and the connection to the minutes and hours. In fact, the key point is that the energy transmitted to the chronograph train via the coupling system of two oscillating pinions mounted on rockers draws its force directly from the barrel. When the chronograph is started, it does not interfere with the running of the basic movement, enabling the latter to maintain a constant and homogeneous behaviour. This construction has two effects: firstly, it enables the measurement of long times, as this would be meaningless in the event of a disturbance to the basic movement; secondly, the precision of the triggering and latching of the functions (start, stop, return to zero) thanks to the efficiency of the column wheel, which acts on the rockers of the two oscillating pinions.
In addition, Richard Mille's teams worked on the pushers to accompany the movement with the aim of achieving the appropriate triggering. The pushers thus have a homogeneous resistance profile and, no matter when or where we activate them, they require the same force to be engaged. The triggering settings are perfect, neither too hard nor too soft, and because their profile is ideal, they are a real pleasure to use.
The RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph therefore lives up to its name. It is undeniably a very easy-to-use watch. It is comfortable to wear, with the rubber strap and the folding clasp providing excellent support as always. It is also practical for everyday use thanks to its good readability, intuitive counters and perfect chronograph triggering. The only real criticisms I could make are the limited water-resistance (30 meters) to be considered as truly versatile and a slightly short power reserve (50 hours) but compensated by an excellent winding efficiency. Between the two models I have had the opportunity to see, my preference goes to the red gold version which I found spectacular while remaining refined given the reasonable size of the case.
In any case, Richard Mille once again demonstrates its expertise in this niche of exclusive and contemporary watches thanks to this less "specialised" but equally demanding watch.
+ the fluid and slender design
+ the performance of the movement and in particular its excellent chronograph triggering
+ the dial lay-out
+ the technical and decorative finish of the movement
+ a slightly short power reserve
+ a limited water resitance (30 meters)