Richard Mille unveils the world’s lightest tourbillon chronograph;
French watchmaker Richard Mille recently teamed up with racing technology pioneer McLaren to create the world’s lightest tourbillon chronograph
Combining the best functional and aesthetic aspects of a stopwatch and a more conventional timepiece, the chronograph is considered the perfect watch for the active sportsman. Not only does it tell time, but it also has the practical purpose of gauging one’s speed over distance—a vital function for those into athletics or automotive racing.
It is a passion for the latter that prompted a collaboration between French watchmaker Richard Mille and McLaren Automotive, a global leader in the field of Formula One (F1) racing. This has resulted in the creation of the world’s lightest sporting watch: the RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph.
Richard Mille is synonymous with elegant watches built around a trifecta of comfort, artistry, and technological innovation. Its creations have graced the wrists of celebrities such as Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan, and Sylvester Stallone.
The brand is also known as a sponsor for various international sporting events and individual athletes including tennis world champion Rafael Nadal and Jean Todt, the president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body behind F1 racing. Richard Mille has also sponsored the track runs of French F1 driver Romain Grosjean, Brazil’s Felipe Massa, and the 2016 McLaren F1 team made up of Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, and Stoffel Vandoorne.
The man behind the brand, however, has long been fascinated by both the McLaren mystique and the innovative technology that goes on behind the scenes of F1 racing. Indeed, his admiration for the British automaker has spanned decades.
“As a car fanatic, I have a lot of admiration for [McLaren founder] Bruce McLaren,” CEO Richard Mille declares enthusiastically. “My first contact with McLaren was in 1966 when I was a child and attended the Monaco Grand Prix with my father. The atmosphere to the race fascinated me–it’s one of my greatest memories.”
Years later, Mille also noted that he and the McLaren team shared a penchant for innovation. Indeed, Mille has since drawn upon the technical solutions developed by McLaren engineers, adapting the principles to suit the art and science of watchmaking.
PRECISION CRAFTSMANSHIP WITH NEW MATERIALS
The RM 50-03, their most recent collaboration, features a breakthrough done together with the Nobel Prize-winning researchers of the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester: the combined use of titanium, Carbon TPT ® which is normally used for the chassis of race cars, and a completely new material Graph TPT ® .
Graph TPT ® is the result of combining Carbon TPT ® with graphene, a revolutionary nanomaterial that is six times lighter and 200 times stronger than steel. In racing, both McLaren and McLaren-Honda F1 are currently in the process of integrating it into the design of single-seat racers. At Richard Mille, on the other hand, specialists took on the task of
machining Graph TPT ® for use in the creation of movement components and cases.
The RM 50-03 is the first Richard Mille timepiece to feature Graph TPT ® in its case. Thanks to the extremely lightweight material, this particular watch weighs a mere 38 grams, strap and all, making it the world’s lightest splitseconds tourbillon chronograph.
The Synergy of form and funcTion
The development of the RM 50-03 is also a testament to the shared dedication of Richard Mille and McLaren to precision and the pursuit of perfection.
The RM 50-03’s bezel and caseback are crafted from Graph TPT ® , making it distinctively lighter to wear but also more resistant against damage from extreme conditions or impact. This extends to the design development for the strap where the nanomaterial is combined with rubber to increase elasticity and durability. The case is also waterresistant for up to 50 metres thanks to a pair of Nitril O-ring seals, 20 spline screws in high-grade titanium, and abrasion-resistant washers.
The watch likewise combines a tourbillon escapement with a split-seconds function. This dynamic design feature ensures a beautifully balanced torque and optimised yield with regard to movement.
This is also the first timepiece to utilise a new split-seconds mechanism, the result of a collaborative effort between Richard Mille’s research and development arm and the team at Audermars Piguet Renaud & Papi (ARP&P). Here, the standard eight-column wheel is replaced by one with six columns to improve functionality by optimising simultaneous actions and the function lock whilst ensuring the stability of its settings.
On the watch face, a torque indicator reminiscent of a dashboard display advises the wearer of the mainspring’s tension. This makes it possible to optimise the winding of the watch. Another noteworthy is a function indicator inspired in part by the gearbox in an F1 racer; the display shows winding, hand-setting, or a neutral position whenever the crown of the watch is pulled out. The crown itself takes its design cues from wheels and hubcaps.
It should be noted at this point that only 75 of these unique timepieces will be made available on the market. With their sporty, track-ready aesthetic, these would certainly catch anyone’s eye and would make an excellent addition to one’s selection of watches. But for those living active lifestyles, people who are willing to go to extremes both at work and in life, these are more than just a conversation piece or an accessory—the RM 50-03 is a testament to innovation and advancement.
InnovatIve synergy A McLaren masterpiece on the track; (inset) CEO Richard Mille; (opposite) RM 50-03; (inset) Inside the case