The Richard Mille RM 67-01, launched two years ago, is the thinnest self-winding Richard Mille watch available. It doesn’t win any records (the world’s thinnest self-winding wristwatch is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Automatic, presented this year), but that’s not the point of this piece. For a Richard Mille watch, it is very thin at just 7.75mm high and with a movement that is just 3.6mm in thickness. The RM 67-01 was an exercise in style, producing a much thinner watch while keeping the skeletonisation familiar of Richard Mille models that also creates an impression of depth.
The two latest extra-flat incarnations from Richard Mille couldn’t be more different from their predecessor. Although they are a whisker thicker, at 7.8mm in total height, their design bears no resemblance whatsoever to the RM 67-02 and their colourful cases in QuartzTPT contrast with the sober look of the original. Since both models have been designed for Olympic athletes, an additional factor was added into the design equation: lightness. These watches are, like all Richard Mille timepieces, designed to be worn during competition and therefore need to be almost imperceptible on the wrist in terms of weight and comfort, yet also withstand the same physical shocks of different disciplines.
RM 67-02 Automatic “High Jump”
The high jump model was specially developed for Mutaz Essa Barshim, a Qatari athlete who won the silver medal in the high jump at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was in Rio where Richard Mille met the athlete and saw a new opportunity. “I’ve been working for over fifteen years to push haute horlogerie beyond the niche it had tucked itself into and open it to new, as yet unexplored or poorly served disciplines,” he said, “with the high jump, there was a blank slate.” In Barshim’s case, the result is a watch with a red QuartzTPT bezel and case back and a carbon-fibre case middle, with hand-painted red decoration on the architectural elements of the dial, all to recall the colours of the Qatari flag.
RM 62-07 Atomatic Mutaz Essa Barshim © Richard Mille
RM 67-02 Automatic “Sprint”
You might remember Yohann Blake sporting his bright yellow and green RM 59-01 in front of a TV audience in the millions during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Early last year, Richard Mille started preparing his next Olympic coup by signing a partnership agreement with South African athlete Wayde van Niekerk, the world champion over 400 metres. It was a prescient move, since van Niekerk went on to scoop gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with a world record time of 43.03 seconds. His Richard Mille timepiece is clearly visible on all photos of the race and the record time. The “Sprint” version of the new RM 67-02 has been designed to Wayde van Niekerk’s specifications, with a bright yellow and green QuartzTPT case and the colours of the South African flag on the dial.
RM 67-02 Automatic Wayde van Niekerk © Richard Mille
Extra-flat and ultra-light
The new RM 67-02 models are powered by the seventh Richard Mille movement to be developed in-house by the brand. The Calibre CRMA7, the successor to the CRMA6 that powers the RM 67-01, is machined from grade 5 titanium that is subsequently DLC coated in grey and black. It has the same thickness of 3.6mm but unlike the CRMA6 calibre things have been reduced to the bare essentials: the watch shows only the hours and minutes, with no seconds, no date and, therefore, no need for the W-D-H function setting indicator. The oscillating mass is made of CarbonTPT and white gold, rather than the heavier platinum used in the RM 67-01.
Arguably the biggest innovation with these two new watches, however, is the strap. After developing lightweight and comfortable perforated rubber straps for Felipe Massa, Velcro and honeycomb polyeurethane straps for Rafael Nadal, Richard Mille has developed a “comfort strap” for the new RM 67-02 models. Taking some design inspiration from the shoes worn by athletes, it is produced in a fabric with a ply designed specifically to ensure maximum elasticity and optimum aeration. Because its elasticity allows it to sit snugly on the wrist even during extreme physical exertion, there is no need for a clasp. As a result, this is the lightest strap ever produced by Richard Mille and it keeps the overall weight of the RM 67-02 down to just 32 grammes, making it the lightest self-winding Richard Mille wristwatch.
Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme technical prowess his driving forces.Find out more >
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