Richard Mille first met actress Michelle Yeoh through a mutual friend, Jean Todt. However, it was because of their mutual passion for watches that they became closer and decided to collaborate professionally. Richard Mille was impressed by her artistic talents, her knowledge and understanding of women’s tastes and her natu ral sense of luxury. He, therefore, suggested to her that she create and design a specific women’s watch.
Michelle Yeoh, enthusiastic about becoming involved in the project, launched herself into the adventure about a year ago, alongside Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, artistic director of Richard Mille. The watch they had in mind had to be light, elegant, romantic and charged with positive feelings. Both women found inspiration in the symbol of the phoenix, a legendary bird they found fascinating.
According to Chinese legend, the phoenix (or Feng-Huang) was the Empress’s emblem and known for being the kin dest of birds. Its beauty was unsurpassed and its song one of the most beautiful. Having survived several centuries, the phoenix would eventually burn into extinction only to rise again from the ashes. Symbol of grace, feminine beauty and strength, the body of the phoenix represents the five human qualities: its head, virtue; its wings, duty; its back, justice; its chest, goodwill and its belly, reliability.
Projected into the world of haute horlogerie, the phoenix enters a timeless dimension. Positioned in the RM 051, the phoenix is adorned with diamonds and encapsulates the movement in harmony with the barrel, power reserve and tourbillon. Poetry and fascination are transcended from this highly complex and elegant work of art.
Another attribute of the RM 051 is its black onyx baseplate, a gemstone known for its properties in absorbing negative energy and producing emotional stability as well as inspiration.
The RM 051, created by Michelle Yeoh and Mélanie Treton-Monceyron, is designed for women looking for a highly technical performance timepiece within a very sophisticated package.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS OF THE RICHARD MILLE TOURBILLON RM 051 PHOENIX-MICHELLE YEOH
Tonneau case – Limited edition of 18 unique pieces in 18k white gold, 18K red gold and titanium gem-set case.
CALIBER RM051: manual winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes and power reserve, inspired by the RM 026.
Dimensions : 48 mm x 39.70 mm x 12.80 mm.
Circa 48 hours. This function is displayed using a newly designed differential power reserve system with a printed red line on a moving disc located between 10 and 11 o’clock.
BLACK ONYX BASEPLATE
Onyx is a variety of cryptocrystalline quartz chalcedony composed of silicium dioxide, (SiO2). The rectilinear black and white parallel stripes version is part of the agate types. The fully black type is called Black Onyx, and is said to be able to deflect harmful energy down to the earth, while providing stability. For this reason, Black Onyx is considered as a charm-stone against spells. Black Onyx also symbolizes equilibrium and inspiration.
BRIDGES MADE OF TITANIUM
These components are in grade 5 titanium with black PVD treatment. This provides the whole assembly great rigidity, as well as precise surface flatness which is essential for the perfect functioning of the gear train.
VARIABLE INERTIA, FREE SPRUNG BALANCE
The free-sprung balance provides better reliability in the event of shocks, movement assembly and disassembly. It also guarantees better chronometric results over an extended period of time.
TORQUE LIMITING CROWN
This additional security system prevents from accidental overwinding, which could cause damage to the winding stem or putting extreme pressure on the mainspring barrel. The crown is set with precious stones or semi-precious stones depending on the version.
BARREL PAWL WITH PROGRESSIVE RECOIL
This device permits a profitable winding gain (circa 20 %), especially during the winding start, when the spring is not charged. It is also helpful in the distribution of the mainspring’s internal tension.
– Movement dimensions: 30.20 mm x 28.60 mm – Thickness: 4.97 mm – Tourbillon diameter: 12.30 mm – Balance wheel diameter: 9.12 mm
– Number of jewels: 21 – Balance: Glucydur, 2 arms, 4 setting screws, inertia moment 10 mg.cm2, angle of lift 53o – Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz) – Balance spring: Elinvar by NIVAROX – Shock protection: KIF Elastor KE 160 B28 – Stone setting in white gold – Barrel shaft in nickel-free Chronifer (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S) with the following characteristics:
stainless- antimagnetic- suitable for tempering
In the world of horology, the case of Richard Mille watches is currently considered as the most difficult to manufacture. This tripartite tonneau-shaped case is fully curved, which enables the watch to be ergonomic and comfortable but is time consuming during its production and requires a high level of quality control. These front and back curves are part of the Richard Mille watch case regardless of their shapes (tonneau, round, rectangular). They demand ultimate precision and no stress in the metal.
The bezel side and the case back have to be perfectly assembled in the case middle with no constraints, to prevent the sapphires from any damage. These manufacturing specifications required one year of research and development. The tonneau shape of the RM 051 requires 47 stamping operations including 21 for the forming. Tooling takes 4 hours and the RM 051 is obtained after 255 milling operations.
The finishing process requires a full day for grinding, glazing and polishing. The tripartite case is water resistant to 50 meters, ensured by two Nitril O-ring seals. The case is assembled with 12 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.
Upper flange in black carbon fiber, with the hours index set with diamonds. Lower flange in black carbon fiber. with the minutes index in white color.
Bezel side: In sapphire (hardness 1800 Vickers) with anti-glare treatment (both sides) Thickness: 1.20 mm Case back: In sapphire with anti-glare treatment (both sides) Thickness: at the center 1 mm and outer edges 1.73 mm
– Anglage and polishing by hand (excluding Onyx baseplate and PVD treated parts) – Locking sections hand polished – Sapphire blasted milled sections – Lapped and polished contact points
– Burnished pivots – PVD treatment (excluding the Onyx baseplate)
– Sapphire blasted surfaces – Satin finished surfaces – Anglage and polishing by hand – Burnished sections
– Concave chamfering with a diamond tool – Circular finished faces – Surface treatment or rhodium-plating (before cutting the teeth) – Minimum correction applied to the wheels in order to preserve geometry and performance