When one door closes, an­other one opens; and for Richard Mille, the end of its RM011 col­lec­tion paves the way for the new RM11-03 – the mod­ern up­date to a cult clas­sic.

The Peak (Malaysia) - - Contents - TEXT DANIEL GOH IM­AGES RICHARD MILLE

When one door closes, an­other one opens; and for Richard Mille, the end of its RM011 col­lec­tion paves the way for the new RM 11-03 – the mod­ern up­date to a cult clas­sic.

If you re­ally think about it, clas­sics be­come clas­sics for a rea­son. It must have had some­thing that man­aged to cap­ti­vate its au­di­ence through­out the years, ce­ment­ing its place in his­tory. Maybe at the time of its launch it was truly rev­o­lu­tion­ary or, per­haps, over the years, it slowly gar­nered its merry band of fol­low­ers un­til reach­ing cult sta­tus. What­ever it may be, clas­sics are a point of com­fort we can re­turn to and, most prob­a­bly, will be the bench­mark on which all sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions are com­pared to. So, when Richard Mille de­cided that it was time to re-in­vent its RM 011 watch, it set out to give the new RM 11-03 all the ad­van­tages that newer tech­nol­ogy brings with­out di­lut­ing the el­e­ments that made the watch a clas­sic in the first place.

“Ev­ery icon needs to evolve if it is to re­tain its sta­tus as a sin­gu­lar ob­ject. The RM 011 is be­ing rein­vented; how­ever, it con­tin­ues to em­body the es­sen­tial na­ture of the brand,” ex­plains Richard Mille. And, in many ways, the per­fect anal­ogy to


ex­plain what the brand is do­ing to the RM 011 is to look at Porsche’s 911 (of course, we’d use a car anal­ogy; it is Richard Mille, af­ter all). When the first 911 came out, it blew ev­ery­one away with its stun­ning de­sign and bril­liant per­for­mance on the race track. The rear-mounted en­gine was nat­u­rally as­pi­rated and air-cooled. Fast for­ward to 2017 and the lat­est Porsche 911 Car­rera still has a rear en­gine but it is turbo-charged and liquid cooled in­stead. The de­sign of the car has changed: it has new brakes, sus­pen­sions and gear­box, and even fancy safety sys­tems built in. But is it any less a 911? Is it still a clas­sic? The an­swer is a re­sound­ing yes!

The evo­lu­tion from RM 011 to RM 11-03 (with a 10-year gap in be­tween) is ex­actly that. The core DNA of the watch is still very much alive even though the struc­tural fea­tures and move­ment may have changed. As Richard Mille him­self puts it: “Each and ev­ery aes­thetic mod­i­fi­ca­tion, be it the small­est re­cal­i­bra­tion of a line or pro­file, is al­ways mo­ti­vated by a tan­gi­ble im­prove­ment in func­tion­al­ity, and this is cer­tainly true of the new RM 11-03 Au­to­matic Fly­back Chrono­graph.”


When the very first Richard Mille RM 011 was launched back in 2007, it was a com­bi­na­tion of stun­ning aes­thetic de­sign and pi­o­neer­ing technical feats. Of course, we would have ex­pected no less as this very

first RM 011 was de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the For­mula 1 driver Felipe Massa (a part­ner­ship that still stands to­day). As such, the en­tire watch took its cue from the high-tech en­gi­neer­ing of F1 cars.

The case boasted the iconic ton­neau shape of Richard Mille, with the curved bezel, sides and case­back in ti­ta­nium. In­spired by one of the fastest cars on the planet, Richard Mille even added on grooved, non­slip push­ers and a crown styled af­ter a tyre rim. On pa­per, it sounded sim­ple enough but, in ac­tu­al­ity, this case needed 68 dif­fer­ent stamp­ing op­er­a­tions, 202 sep­a­rate ma­chin­ing op­er­a­tions with 120 hours just to de­velop a method­ol­ogy, 130 to do the draw­ings for the tools and 180 hours of im­ple­men­ta­tion.

In For­mula 1, the de­sign of the car had to re­flect the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the en­gine; and so the Cal­i­bre RM 011- S move­ment of the watch had to match the technical com­plex­ity of the case. Many of the fea­tures on the move­ment rep­re­sented ma­jor break­throughs for Richard Mille. Per­haps the most im­por­tant one came in the form of a ro­tor with vari­able ge­om­e­try to give the con­trol of wind­ing ef­fi­ciency back to the user, some­thing that Richard Mille is still do­ing to­day. By con­trol­ling the set­ting of the rib’s place­ment on the ro­tor, the in­er­tia could be con­trolled to ei­ther speed up or slow down the wind­ing of the main­spring. In ad­di­tion to this ex­cit­ing in­no­va­tion, the watch was also a fly­back chrono­graph and an an­nual cal­en­dar with an over­sized date dis­play. RICHARD MILLE RM 11-03 Clearly, Richard Mille has been busy in the past 10 years as with the RM 11-03, it has man­aged to give the clas­sic watch (which was al­ready a technical mar­vel) more com­plex­ity and depth. “This watch rep­re­sents the first ma­jor change to one of the brand’s most leg­endary and pop­u­lar time­pieces since its in­tro­duc­tion a decade ago,” ex­plains Mille.

Im­me­di­ately, the sporty re­design of the ton­neau- shaped case jumps out at you; the ‘stepped’ col­umns sit­u­ated around the case­band and bezels are rem­i­nis­cent of the RM 27-01, where it was first used. The big­gest vis­ual change to the watch is not just for aes­thetic pur­poses as the ex­tra ma­te­rial sur­round­ing the screws of the bezels and case­band also in­creases the stiff­ness of the en­tire case unit, pro­vid­ing in­creased dura­bil­ity. The crown is also re-styled with grooves and mi­nus­cule, highly de­tailed racing cues ma­chined along its en­tire cir­cum­fer­ence, along with two ad­di­tional ALCRYN® rings in yel­low.

Push­ing the bound­aries, this new case takes 255 tool­ing op­er­a­tions and more than 15 hours of glaz­ing and pol­ish­ing to reach the final phase. This is also made pos­si­ble with a five-axis ma­chine that needed 26 hours to es­tab­lish its set­tings and 30 hours of kit pro­gram­ming. On the back, Felipe Massa is no longer en­graved on the case­back, re­placed, in­stead, by a huge ‘Richard Mille’ that took 45 min­utes to en­grave.

And it doesn’t stop there: the RMAC3 cal­i­bre move­ment has been skele­tonised, so now it looks even more like an en­gine (with the top block off), and the base­plate and bridges have been up­graded to Grade Five ti­ta­nium. The ba­sic prin­ci­ple of the vari­able in­er­tia ro­tor re­mains but it has been com­pletely re­designed to be more ef­fi­cient.

The func­tions like the fly­back chrono­graph, an­nual cal­en­dar with over­sized date and 60-minute count­down timer have been re­tained but the re­sult of this up­date is clear: one of Richard Mille’s favourite ‘bad boys’ has now been tough­ened up to take on the years to come.

RIGHT With the new RM 11-03 Richard Mille con­tin­ues to push the bound­aries of watch­mak­ing in­no­va­tion BE­LOW When Richard Mille launched the RM 011 back in 2007 it’s technical ca­pa­bil­i­ties was al­ready far ahead of the curve

FROM LEFT The case­back of the RM011 and RM 11-03

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