Richard Mille and McLaren unveil the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail, a design and technical tour de force inspired by the automotive pioneer’s fastest and most exotic road car
Richard Mille’s passion for cars, and McLaren in particular, dates all the way back to the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix. Mille was a mere 15 years old when his father took him to the legendary motor sport event, where he saw Bruce McLaren driving his very first McLaren Formula 1 car. The “absolutely terrifying” sound of the M2B’s Ford engine left a lasting impression on Mille that would eventually result, 50 years later, in a long-term partnership between Richard Mille, the watch brand, and McLaren Automotive, the British supercar maker.
The first watch to emerge from the pairing was the RM 50-03 Split Seconds Tourbillon, still the world’s lightest split-seconds tourbillon chronograph. Next was the RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph, launched simultaneously with the 211mph McLaren Senna. Now, as their partnership enters its fifth year, the two brands are set to reveal their most ambitious collaboration to date.
The RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail honours the fastest, most advanced and most exotic road car McLaren has ever produced. The Speedtail, with its 1,070-horsepower hybrid powertrain, can reach a top speed of 402kph thanks to its incredibly aerodynamic teardropbased design – which was also the starting point for the design of the watch.
“Richard Mille watches are known as ‘racing machines on the wrist’, and that’s supported by the fact that there are so many similarities in the way we approach a problem, such as saving weight, reducing vibrational impact and minimising resistance,” says McLaren Automotive’s design director Rob Melville.
“When it came to the RM 40-01, we had considerable input in sharing the highlights of the car and the philosophy behind it. With the Speedtail, we set out to produce a car that had an artistic quality to it. That has certainly come through in the watch, which beautifully mirrors the many various details of the Speedtail in its finish, materials and its uncompromising design.”
Indeed, the lines of RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail mimic the form of a water droplet while bezel indentations evoke the Speedtail’s bonnet openings and pushers recall the air outlets behind the front wheels. The meticulous attention to detail extends to the use of different finishes, the combined use of titanium and Carbon TPT, and even the iconic McLaren orange accent stripe that extends from 6 o’clock on the movement down the asymmetrical strap using a special process that enables coloured rubbed to be over-moulded.
Limited to 106 pieces to match the exclusivity of the 106 Speedtail hypercars manufactured by McLaren, the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail features a host of advances for the Swiss watch brand. The CRMT4 calibre that drives the timepiece introduces the first in-house development for a power reserve display as well as the oversize date and function selector complications – all firsts at Richard Mille on an in-house tourbillon.
The exceedingly complex design required thousands of hours of manpower from Richard Mille’s watchmakers, designers and materials specialists, and was the first project to involve every member of the brand’s exteriors technical department. Five prototypes were created before the casing department could perfect the shape that seamlessly combined existing Richard Mille cues with those of the Speedtail.
“That’s part of the beauty of the partnership,” Melville says. “We encourage one another to push our boundaries ever further all the time.”
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