There is simply so much about the Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 that makes you gasp and sigh that it’s difficult to know how even to start describing it. This humdinger of a timepiece, launched at SIHH, is the first outcome of the watchmaker’s 10-year tie-up with the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 motor racing team. Richard Mille has a history of sponsoring motor racing teams and making pioneering, high-performance wristwatches inspired by motor racing. But if the RM 50-03 is anything to go by, the watchmaker has now switched into overdrive.
The RM 50-03 is a case in point. The racing team and the watchmaker collaborated with scientists at the University of Manchester in Britain to create a new composite material, Graph TPT, which was patented by Richard Mille and is used in the new watch. The initials in the name stand for thin-ply technology. Tossing carbon TPT, titanium and graphene together in the witch’s cauldron produces an uncommonly tough material that is six times lighter than steel.
Making the RM 50-03 of Graph TPT means the tonneau-shape watch, although it measures 44mm by 49mm, weighs just 40 grams. The skeletonised movement weighs only 7 grams. The use of a lighter-than-usual grade of titanium and Graph TPT on the baseplate and bridges also keeps the weight down. Yet the watch is heavily laden with complications. The full designation of the timepiece only hints at what it can do: it is called the RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1. On top of telling the hours and minutes, the manually wound tourbillon is a spilt-seconds chronograph, has torque indicators and a 70-hour power reserve.
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Low weight and high performance are complemented by extraordinary resistance to G-force, resistance which is due to some complex engineering. And the watch looks good. Its unique, three-case design gives it presence. More than a few nods to haute horology are manifested in the detailed hand-crafted movement and the finishing. Just 75 aficionados of Richard Mille watches will get to own an RM 50-03.
The timepieces will be sold in only a few chosen outlets. If you have a spare million US or so lying around and have a penchant for the world of motor racing, put your name down for one.
If this all sounds a bit too bloke-ish, never fear. Richard Mille showed off two lady’s watches at SIHH. The watchmaker applies as much of its technical prowess to winning the hearts of the ladies as it does to tickling the nostrils of petrolheads. For the cases of the RM 07-01 and RM 037 wristwatches, it uses NTPT carbon, a strong and durable material more often used in the sails of racing yachts. The designs have the unmistakable Richard Mille tonneau shape, and are studded with diamonds for extra allure.