Richard Mille RM11-03 pivotal evolution
The RM 011 is dead, long live the RM 11... version 03. Richard Mille’s star chronograph continues to evolve, proving the endurance of one of the brand’s essential watches.
Could it be a coincidence? Just a few days apart, Felipe Massa announced that 2016 would be his last season with Formula 1, and Richard Mille announced the end of the line for his best-selling model, the RM 011. The Brazilian racing driver is both an inspiration for the RM 011, and a friend of Mr Mille. And, just as the driver is no doubt preparing to deploy his talents in a new kind of car, nor is the watch disappearing altogether. To the contrary, it is evolving, to become the RM 11-03, a new watch that embodies the RM 011’s core strengths, with the addition of the brand’s latest technical and aesthetic touches.
When it came out in 2007 the RM 011 Automatic Flyback Chronograph marked a turning point in the history of the young brand. It came to prominence on the strength of extreme watches, manually wound tourbillons, and exceptional technical and ergonomic properties, generally paired with an eye-watering price tag. The RM 011 was a flyback chronograph with an automatic (not manual) movement, devoid of tourbillon, and with a five-figure price tag (just about), perfect for everyday wear with its big date annual calendar. In short, a boon for watchmaking enthusiasts who didn’t want their watch to be more expensive than their Ferrari or their McLaren. And yet it was everything you’d want from a Richard Mille.
First of all, it had the name. The first models were called RM 011, in accordance with the brand’s original naming conventions. The three figures have now been replaced by two sets of digits separated by a hyphen, as in the 11-03. But as Richard Mille explains, a legend – even a legend – particularly a legend, must evolve if it is to retain its relevance and its aura. So the RM 11-03 contains the same movement, supplied by Vaucher Manufacture, in a purely aesthetic reboot. It is still a self-winding flyback chronograph with countdown timer and annual calendar, big date and month. But everything else is different.
Openwork was a key feature of the RM 011’s appearance, and here it is taken further. First of all, the structural lines are more geometrical, their cutouts are more clearly visible and they are enhanced by the use of colours. The rotor on the back of the watch (still variable inertia) in titanium and white gold contrasts with the black baseplate, and is hatched with black engraved lines to accentuate the texture. The hands are still skeletonised, but more pointed, and the arrow shape is more angular. While the font for the minutes remains unchanged, it’s the only thing that is: all of the figures have been modified in terms of both shape and colour.
Nevertheless, it is on the case that the majority of the changes are visible. There was clearly no appetite for messing with the iconic tonneau shape, but in the wake of the extreme models created for Rafael Nadal, such as the RM35-01, the case is now ribbed. The new crenellations focus attention on the screws that pull together the bezel, caseband and back. These powerful shoulders serve to buttress the massive presence of the watch, which has never tried to be discreet or reasonable. So, from 50 x 40 x 16 mm for the 2007, the RM 11-03 has grown to 50 x 44.5 x 16.5 mm.
The crown is bigger, and retains the references to the motor racing world that were a feature of its original design. The same goes for the ridged chronograph pushers, whose texture is even more pronounced. The first version presented by Richard Mille at the flagship Chantilly Arts & Elegance event was in red gold. But it’s clear that the RM 11-03 will follow one of the essential features of its forebear, and will eventually be offered in all of the brand’s typical materials, including NTPT carbon and TPT quartz. Aside from that, who knows what other surprises the company might have in store?
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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