Sweat the Details

There exists a place between gadgetry and luxury where Richard Mille watches are positioned. You absolutely must have an appreciation for mechanical gizmos to ‘get’ Richard Mille – even more so than you do for “normal” high-end mechanical watches. Forget for a moment that Richard Mille himself partially created the brand as an homage to the high-tech world of Formula 1 racing – these watches are officially meant to tantalize the eye and mind of the technophile.

Luscious little technical details abound as Richard Mille watches playfully dismiss the traditional concept that a watch movement must be hidden by a dial. “Who needs a dial?”, whispers each Richard Mille watch that proudly displays their intricate dial, naked underneath a sapphire crystal. Indicators for the time and other functions are often placed on the underside of the sapphire crystal. These elements are not unique to Richard Mille, but in the collective organism that is the watch industry, Richard Mille practically owns this look.

After only a few short years, the brand has risen to the absolute top of the luxury sport watch segment. A rise to power that confusingly cannot be explained on paper. “You are telling me that they charge that much for a titanium chronograph? I don’t care if it has a special and unique movement, I just don’t get.” Words from a devotee of classic timepieces who just “doesn’t get it it.” That is OK, Richard Mille isn’t out there to satisfy everyone, they are doing quite alright with their rapidly growing fan base. When inquired about the brand’s success, Richard Mille, the man, smiles sheepishly indicating that he is simply making watches he wants to wear.

Richard Mille’s secret is in the presentation of these highly detailed timepieces, showing the fact that men still love their toys (and sure aren’t ashamed of it).  This newest fun device has a unique complication sure to wow obsessive gear heads looking for practical efficiency and mechanical longevity. Ever heard of the concept of “over winding a watch?” The idea is that mainsprings can be damaged if they are wound too tight. Most good watches have a special disconnection device in the form of a sliding flange. It seemed to work well, but now Richard Mille suggests that over time this sliding flange can accumulate debris, eventually causing the movement to be less accurate.

The RM 030 watch solves this problem but physically disconnecting the automatic rotor of the watch when winding of the movement is not necessary. A specially developed clutch system detaches the automatic rotor from the winding mechanism when the power reserve of the Richard Mille caliber RM 030 watch reaches its maximum of 50 hours. When it gets back down to about 40 hours of power reserve, the clutch re-engages and the rotor is back to work winding again. An “On/Off” Indicator on the dial, paired with a power reserve indicator tells the wearer when this is happening. Otherwise the movement has the time and date. The complication is useful, easy to understand, and helps the owner interact more emotionally with the watch.

The RM 030 timepiece itself comes in a 42.70mm wide tonneau shaped case available in titanium, 18k white gold, or red gold. Case construction is highly complex, while Richard Mille uses a variety of metals and other materials to make up the case and movement. Can you argue that for the price the technical improvements over more basic automatic movement in this watch don’t necessarily justify the high price? Sure, but then you’d be missing the point of it. No one needs one, but I sure darn want one. Price is $70,000 in titanium, $85,000 in 18k red gold, and $90,000 in 18k white gold.