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SIHH 2018 – Richard Mille - On the polo field and in the wings

SIHH 2018 – Richard Mille On the polo field and in the wings

In his usual fashion, Richard Mille presented another superlative model, the RM53-01 Pablo Mac Donough. But there were more surprises waiting in the wings.

The communication strategy for the SIHH was predictable enough: focus on a flagship product that showcases everything the brand wants to convey about its image. With the RM 53-01, Richard Mille hit the target squarely in the bullseye. Created for and with the Argentine polo player Pablo Mac Donough, with whom the brand has worked since 2012, this watch is designed for rough handling, mistreatment, abuse and assault. And, like its wearer, it’s built to survive.

Sur le terrain de polo, et en coulisses

RM 53-01 Pablo Mac Donough © David Chokron/Worldtempus

Pablo Mac Donough, who has been injured many times, is happy to explain that his sport, often perceived as the elitist pursuit of indolent billionaires, is no walk in the park. With all its inevitable falls, collisions and blows, polo has more in common with rugby than with dressage. Richard Mille has created a watch that can rise to the challenge. The RM 53-01 is encased in TPT Carbon, the brand’s favourite composite material, which is about as hard a material as you’ll find on the market today. It contains a tourbillon movement made almost entirely of titanium, which more or less follows the construction of the old RM 27-01. Rather than a mainplate, structural integrity is supplied by a system of pulleys and cables. Any shocks to the movement, suspended inside the case, are naturally absorbed by 0.27 mm twisted wires made of steel. As a bonus, they make the calibre even lighter, because where shocks are concerned, the danger comes from inertia, and weight is the enemy.

The third ingredient of this superlative watch, which will cost you somewhere between 800,000 and 900,000 euros (but who’s counting...) is its crystal. It is made of laminated sapphire; two layers of three-dimensional domed sapphire are sandwiched together with a film. After passing standard strength tests a little too comfortably (shocks of 5000 G supplied by a pendulum impact tester), its developers decided to attack it with a hammer, to find out what it was really made of. The result was that the crystal cracked, but didn’t shatter. There’s no risk of the movement being damaged by a splinter of glass – in any case it has enough to deal with with the pendulum impact tester, not to mention the subsequent polo matches.

Alongside this superstar, Richard Mille privately unveiled some other references. They are more commercial and less spectacular, but no less appealing. The first two, already revealed in the form of computer-generated images, are variants of the RM 67-02, the brand’s ultra-thin sports model. The first is in green, with bridges sporting the colours of the South African flag, worn by sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk. The second is in burgundy, in honour of Qatari high-jump athlete Mutas Essa Barshim. Their cases are made of Quartz TPT, a material that can be easily tinted.

Sur le terrain de polo, et en coulisses

RM 67-02 Wayde Van Niekerk © David Chokron/Worldtempus

Sur le terrain de polo, et en coulisses

RM 67-02 Mutas Essa Barshim © David Chokron/Worldtempus

Women also had their turn, with a diamond-set full metal RM 07-01. This feminine timepiece, in a narrow barrel shaped version that lends itself to jewellery versions, comes on a large-linked cuff bracelet, also set with diamonds.

Sur le terrain de polo, et en coulisses

RM 07-01 Gourmette © David Chokron/Worldtempus

Finally, the most commercial watch at the Richard Mille booth was the RM 11-03 Carbon TPT. It is a cross between the brand’s most iconic model, the automatic flyback chronograph and annual calendar, its most iconic material, Carbon TPT, composed of 600 layers of carbon composite, and the most macho version of the barrel-shaped case, with crenellations alongside every screw around the bezel. And – it’s skeletonised to boot. In short, it is the essence of Richard Mille in a single watch: virile, exclusive, hyperbolic and sensational. And definitely worth the wait.

Sur le terrain de polo, et en coulisses

RM 11-03 in Carbon TPT © David Chokron/Worldtempus

The brand

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.

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