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Richard Mille - Flying high with Richard Mille

Richard Mille Flying high with Richard Mille

Richard Mille has just unveiled the second new creation to come out of its partnership with Airbus Corporate Jets. This aviation-inspired tribute will certainly set pulses racing... or perhaps, tingling.

“Generally speaking, an effective alarm has to be audible from far away. Ours, however, was designed to function within a radius of just few millimetres.” Has Richard Mille lost all sense of reality – both acoustical and horological? Not at all! 

From the booth of its partner, Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), in Monaco this Wednesday, 25 September, Richard Mille unveiled a second creation to celebrate the partnership. It is even more innovative than the first, and also more expensive. This latest limited series of 30 units will cost around 1.3 million francs. Why such a stratospheric price? 

Flying high with Richard Mille

RM 62-01 Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm © WorldTempus / Olivier Müller

A family resemblance

The answer is not immediately obvious. Aesthetically, this RM 62-01 looks very similar to its older sibling, the RM 50-02. It shares the same barrel-shaped case with its rounded corners, and the movement can be seen through a sapphire crystal “with exactly the same geometry as our cabin windows,” as Sylvain Mariat, ACJ’s director of design, explains. “With Richard, we asked ourselves whether we should go for disruption or evolution. We chose the second option, to mark the continuity of our partnership.”

Flying high with Richard Mille

© Richard Mille

Vibration by rotation

As far as the movement is concerned, however, things are quite different. While the first piece offered a chronograph, the second has an alarm and a second time zone. These are popular features in travel watches, but this alarm doesn’t strike: it vibrates. For the first time in mechanical watchmaking, the RM 62-01 “Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm”, to give it its full name, has a silent alarm that operates by transmitting vibrations directly to the owner’s wrist. “We generally call upon all the engineering tricks at our disposal to protect our watches from shocks and vibrations, but here we’re inviting them inside the movement itself!” notes Richard Mille with a smile. 

Flying high with Richard Mille

© WorldTempus / Olivier Müller

The function works by means of a rotor that revolves around its own axis at a very high speed, up to 90 revolutions per second (14,000 per minute). It’s this extremely rapid rotation that generates the vibration on the wrist. “It presented quite a number of technical problems,” explains Salvatore Arbona, Richard Mille’s technical director of movements. “Every movement screw is tightened with a specific amount of torque. We had to do a huge number of calculations to ensure that this remained within the elastic-plastic range, i.e. between tolerance and failure, which clearly we had to stay well clear of.”

The task of winding the movement has been allocated to two separate barrels: one for the time and the other dedicated to the alarm. “We invented a fun system for winding the alarm barrel,” Salvatore Arbona continues. “Rather than a second crown, we created a system to wind it with a pusher. Initially, it required around 30 presses to fully rearm the alarm barrel. But after many calculations, we got it down to just 12. It’s a game, a new way of interacting with the watch – it’s a completely new sensation.” 

Flying high with Richard Mille

© Richard Mille

The result is that this gold rotor is capable of vibrating for 12 seconds. The alarm time is visible on its own 24-hour subdial, between 3 and 5 o’clock, where the On/Off indicator is also located. Opposite are the AM / PM indicator hand and second time zone, which Sylvain Mariat points out is “the exact colour green found on our flight instruments.” 

Our opinion

It is increasingly rare in the watch world to see completely new complications that are nevertheless useful and reliable. With this vibrating alarm, Richard Mille has scored a hole in one. The idea is based on a movement designed several years ago by APR&P (Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, which is where Salvatore Arbona came from), which is a perfect match for this new partnership with ACJ. All the Richard Mille DNA is present and correct: titanium and carbon TPT, the watchmaker’s two signature materials; a highly complex movement designed to withstand extreme conditions; a strictly limited series of 30 units, available from January 2020 at a price you won’t find advertised anywhere; an openworked dial-less construction that manages to remain legible despite the plethora of different levels, finishes and information; 816 movement components, a large date, two barrels, two power reserves, two time zones, seven hands, an AM/PM indicator and another indication connected to the five functions administered by the crown (neutral, wind, set, alarm, UTC). This watch marks a new high water mark in terms of technical innovation, creativity and... price. 

Flying high with Richard Mille

© WorldTempus / Olivier Müller

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