“Are you going to find new ambassadors who come from different backgrounds than the world of sport or cinema?” This question closed my interview with Peter Harrison (CEO of Richard Mille EMEA) published last May 2020. After almost twenty years spent revolutionizing the world of watchmaking by making it possible to use watches in highly risky situations for the mechanics that make them up, I wanted to try to understand what the brand's development plans would be, since I had the feeling the time had come to broaden the horizons by embarking on new development paths.
Here, with the advent of September I was promptly satisfied. In fact, the new RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-house Chronograph was presented and, to do so, a short film, called "Within", created by Benjamin Millepied with music by Thomas Roussel, both brand ambassadors.
The very fact that testimonials from the world of art (dance and music) have been used suggests that this RM 72-01 is a different watch from the RMs we usually deal with. Let's try to understand why.
Lifestyle In-House Chronograph
The RM 72-01 is a automatic flyback chronograph with tonneau-shaped case that mounts the brand new calibre CRMC1. The main innovations introduced by the watch are the following:
- New proportions and shape of the case
- New caliber produced entirely in-house, with a particular patented system for chronograph distribution with oscillating pinions
Although the development of an in-house chronograph caliber is a substantial novelty for Richard Mille, the first word in the name given to the watch, however, is "lifestyle", which reveals which target customer it is for. he addresses. We are certainly not talking about sportsmen who love carbon and absolute lightness, but rather about those who want to use their watch on a wide range of occasions without it being excessively awkward or bulky.
The RM 72-01 thus stands out clearly from the references RM 011 / RM 11-XX (collections of automatic flyback chronographs with calibers developed by Vaucher) since its shapes have been softened and its dimensions reduced, as if it had been hybridized with the reference RM 67-01 (only time with ultra-thin date, the "suit" watch capable of disappearing under a shirt cuff).
Given the release of production of the RM 011 / RM 11-XX (except for 11-04), the limitation of the RM 11-05 (140 units) and the RM 11-03 Ultimate Edition in Carbon + Quartz TPT (200 units) and the different sales target of the TM 72-01, what will become of the sporting chronographs at this point? I'm sure we'll have some answers on that shortly… stay tuned
A new portability
The tonneau shape of the Richard Mille cases can often be misleading and at first glance it is not possible to appreciate what the changes introduced by the RM 72-01 are. The table below compares the dimensions of the various chronographs of the brand:
|Length (lug-lug) [mm]
|2014 / 2020
|Tonneau with shoulders in correspondence with the screws of the case
|Tonneau with shoulders in correspondence with the screws of the case
As you can see, the case dimensions of the 72-01 have been significantly reduced compared to the standards adopted to date, as if you wanted to go back to the origins and to that masterpiece called RM 004 which, however, was much thicker due to a movement. more complex. Thus, the width has been increased to 38.4 mm (less than any sporty Rolex) and the thickness to 11.68 mm (certainly not an exaggerated value for a flyback chronograph) making the watch much less bulky on the wrist and giving a new dimension of daily use, even for those who do not have a particularly important wrist.
As always happens for Richard Mille, never be frightened by the length between the hooks of the strap, 47.34 mm in this case, because the ever-present curvature of the case allows the watch to hug the wrist and adapt perfectly even to slender wrists. ensuring unique comfort during use. Seeing is believing, you will hardly find more comfortable watches on the market. The water resistance of the case drops compared to previous models and stands at 30 m, however sufficient for daily use in safety.
The New Caliber
The real novelty introduced by the RM 72-01 is the adoption of a new chronograph caliber totally developed in-house by Richard Mille. Strange as it may seem, Richard Mille has only recently begun developing its own movements, having previously relied (and continues to do so) on APR&P to develop complex tourbillon calibers and on Vaucher for simpler movements. The development of an in-house chronograph caliber is a clear demonstration of Richard Mille's desire to evolve its corporate strategy and the result could certainly not be trivial. The chronograph mechanism developed for the RM 72-01 features a patented double clutch system with oscillating pinions mounted on levers. Now let's get down to the technical details.
In a traditional chronograph, with a horizontal clutch, the torque (i.e. the driving force possessed by the watch and contained in the mainspring of the barrel) is transferred to the chronograph seconds (green) via the seconds wheel of the train of time (red) via an auxiliary wheel (yellow) activated with the famous column wheel. Using a train of gears that multiplies its rotation, the minutes are obtained (the seconds, of course, rotate faster than the minutes). This system, although simple in concept, has several problems: it consumes a lot of energy during operation (reduction of the charge), it influences the amount of torque transmitted by the barrel as the watch discharges and consequently affects the movement of the entire watch as the amplitude of the hairspring is affected.
To overcome these problems there are various solutions, one of the most used is that of the vertical clutch, but Richard Mille has decided to follow another path, that is to use for the first time in the history of watchmaking two "oscillating pinions". Overall, this system has the advantage of being simpler (the time seconds wheel engages directly with that of the chronograph), less bulky and does not affect the accuracy of the watch.
Let's now understand how it works with a general scheme. The wheels of the movement (A) are always connected to two small pinions (below you can see the operating diagram of one of them) which have the possibility of oscillating vertically (B). When the chronograph linkage is activated, the upper teeth (C) engage or not the chronograph wheel (whether minutes or seconds) (D) depending on whether it is running or stopped (E).
Richard Mille's patent consists in using not one but two pinions which engage the minutes and seconds separately. The connection between the minute and chronograph seconds wheels is one of the most delicate areas within a chronograph as it is subject to a significant loss of power, for this reason a separate pinion has been dedicated to the chronograph minutes which transmits the torque directly from the barrel.
The torque from the mainspring is then split to power the time train and the chronograph minutes, which in turn are linked to the chronograph seconds and chronograph hours respectively. The slowness with which the hour gear rotates is such that it is not necessary to use a dedicated oscillating pinion. With this configuration of the chronograph and with the separation of the seconds and minutes, the Richard Mille chronographs have managed to improve the overall performance of the movement by making the power reserve theoretically independent of the functioning of the chronograph.
Overall, the integrated 4 Hz chronograph movement is much more compact (29.10×31.25×6.05 mm) than that of the RM 11-03 and, in terms of importance and technical-aesthetic beauty, it is close to the RM-004 winding caliber manual mounted on the RM 004, a movement that is still considered a true masterpiece today.
Richard Mille never leaves anything to chance and was able to amaze me even in this case. The indices at 3-8-11 o'clock are in 5N red gold, as well as the profiling of the flange with the tachymeter, the winding crown and the whole frame of the chronograph pushers. The profiling of the buttons and the case, then, are polished and beveled at 45 ° as if it were obtained by anglage. Finally, the pushers and crown are made of black TZP ceramic with an edged surface.
The alternation of different materials and finishes makes the watch very captivating and never banal every time you look at it. Even the hands and the winding rotor are completely new in terms of design. The latter, then, although no longer variable geometry (big change) has a good alternation of finishes and is made of platinum.
The RM 72-01 has various functions. In addition to the hours display, there are three large counters at 1-5-9 o'clock on the dial which respectively indicate the minutes and hours of the flyback chronograph and running seconds. At 7 o'clock we find, then, the indication of the date and at 3 o'clock the inevitable indication for the function of the crown (HNW). The positioning of the counters combined with the design of the skeletonized dial and the different colors (orange-green-blue) used for minutes, hours and seconds guarantee remarkable legibility, which is difficult to find on other countergraphs on the market.
While maintaining the strengths of previous models (design, comfort, complications), the new RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph represents a clear evolution and improvement of Richard Mille chronographs. Although he has not even turned 20, Richard Mille has been able to draw liberally from his past, in particular from the RM 004, to succeed in his intent. The great work carried out on portability and legibility together with the adoption of a new innovative manufacture caliber for mechanical solutions and damningly beautiful from an aesthetic point of view have made it possible to obtain a watch that has been able to amaze me from all points of view.
The watch is currently available in titanium or rose gold with a selling price of 170 and 000 CHF to which VAT will then be added depending on the country where the watch will be purchased. Next year, the black and white ceramic versions will be presented, of which no specific details are yet known.