The RM 011 has been a successful part of the Richard Mille collection since 2007, and it has now been extensively redesigned to create this new RM 11-03. It retains all the Richard Mille looks, in line with the basic idea of feeling as if you were wearing a racing car on the wrist. It’s very expensive, and closer to a piece of conceptual art than a watch.
The RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph, like virtually all of the brand’s products, is based on a contradiction. Supreme engineering, aerospace materials, innovative technical design, in a timepiece that can’t actually measure elapsed time with any degree of accuracy (see some other “illegible” chronographs here). The fifth-seconds scale follows the outside edge of the dial, and the tonneau case shape means that the chronograph seconds hand is positioned directly over the scale only for brief intervals, at 0, 15, 30 and 45 seconds. For the rest of the time, the tip of the seconds hand is a long way from the scale. The tachymeter scale is even further removed from the realms of reality.
So, let’s take a look at the dial in this mechanical work of art. Below the numeral 12 is a window framed by a titanium bridge and highlighted in red, showing the date, indicated by two skeletonized wheels that are visible through the sapphire dial and that change semi-spontaneously at midnight. The watch has the annual calendar function and so it automatically adjusts for different month lengths. The month is shown by a small skeleton numeral between 4 and 5 o’clock. The subdial at 6 o’clock shows chronograph hours and minutes, with two hands, a practical system that enables elapsed times to be read off immediately. The subdial at 9 o’clock is a 60-second countdown, so it starts running when you start the chronograph. I’m not sure when and where this function could be useful, perhaps in some sort of sports event. The subdial at 3 o’clock is for continuous seconds.
In terms of functions, that’s about it. The crown has three positions, for winding, date and time-setting. The rotor, visible through the sapphire caseback, is adjustable, one of Richard Mille’s earliest technical innovations. The two triangular shapes within the rotor are in white gold, and they can be moved closer or further from the pivot, decreasing or increasing the rotor’s inertia and therefore its winding power. It can be adjusted to suit the user’s lifestyle, but as it has to be adjusted by a watchmaker, it’s not really a useful or practical function.
The right-hand side of the watch is the part that reveals its automotive inspiration to the full, with a crown that recalls disc brake rotors, and pushers like car pedals. All considered, it fulfils its primary role – looking good – to perfection.
The watch incorporates all sorts of high-tech materials, such as titanium for the bridges, NTPT carbon for the pusher protectors, ceramic ball bearings, carbon fibre and so forth. The movement, made in collaboration with Vaucher, is the same automatic RMAC3 movement used for the last decade, with two barrels providing a power reserve of about 55 hours. It runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz.
The case of the watch in these photos is in red gold with an attractive brushed finish. It is also available in white gold or titanium. The RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph was presented on 4 September 2016. Its price is €175,000.