Made of Money
The price tag of €200,000 (S$309,000) for the RM 001, Richard Mille’s first watch, was a big number for the debut creation of a new company with no heritage to speak of. Fifteen years later, the brand is slowly building a heritage based on avant-garde, never-before-seen technical marvels. Richard Mille’s six-figure price tags are starting to look reasonable among the million-dollar timepieces that are now a staple in its portfolio. We take a look at some of the innovative mechanisms that prove every Richard Mille watch is worth its weight in grade 5 titanium (because gold is simply too conventional).
The water pressure encountered during deep-sea dives may inadvertently operate a watch’s pushers. To counter this, Richard Mille patented a locking crown that keeps the pushers in place to a depth of 300m. It’s easy to operate, too: a green arrow indicates unlocked pushers, while a red one means everything’s secure.
The numbers 53 and 65 on some dials form the torque indicator, which gives information about the tension of the mainspring. Below 53, there’s not enough tension; above 65 and it’s too tense.
Unibody is a skeletonised baseplate and caseband fused into a single piece, giving the watch more rigidity and resistance to impact. This technical feat was achieved by ProArt, Richard Mille’s case-making facility.
This is a push button located in the centre of the crown. With it, the wearer switches the crown between winding, neutral and hand-setting functions. A display at four o’clock shows which function is in use.
When the spring is fully wound, the winding barrel automatically disconnects from the rotor’s winding mechanism so that the rotor declutches, or detaches. This prevents the watch from overwinding.
Variable Geometry Rotor
Adjustable ribs on the rotor can be moved to six positions – either closer to the edge of the rotor or the pivot – to increase or decrease the rotor’s swing. This customises the winding process to suit the wearer’s activity.
Honeycombed Orthorhombic Titanium Aluminide
When put in a honeycomb structure, this alloy is resistant to extremely high temperatures, has incomparable stiffness and a low thermal expansion coefficient. NASA has been studying it for use in supersonic aircraft.