Richard Mille (RM) is known for its associations with well known individuals and brands, and at SIHH 2016, the Swiss company announced a new partner, Airbus or more precisely, Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ). The collaboration has produced the RM50-02 ACJ Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph, a serious watch for seriously high net-worth individuals.
Since Richard Mille introduced its first piece – the RM001 – back in 2001, the company has constantly focused on innovation, and the result was, and still is, a steady flow of interesting and complicated watches. The man himself, Mr. Richard Mille, says that he has been inspired by the aviation industry, owing to the many similarities with his own philosophy of second century watchmaking – combining tradition with new materials to create mechanical masterpieces.
Airbus is a huge deal in the aviation industry. Like Richard Mille, this aviation titan is committed to ceaseless innovation, and this extends to the Airbus Corporate Jets business unit. ACJ is reputed for its fresh approach to design when it comes to aircraft for its clientele, so it came as no surprise to us when we learned that the design of the RM50-02 ACJ is the handiwork of Sylvain Mariat, Head of ACJ’s Creative Design Studio, and Richard Mille’s Julien Boillat and Salvador Arbona.
The cases of RM watches have always fascinated us, and the same holds true with its newest offering. The 42.7mm case is produced from titanium-aluminium (TiAl), the brand says this alloy boasts characteristics that stand between metals and ceramics – the physical characteristics are closer to metal, while the mechanical properties are closer to ceramic.
Beyond the case’s physical properties, you may have also noticed that the front profile of the watch resembles the passenger window of a modern jet, whereas the crown looks like the arrangement of blades you’d find inside an aircraft engine, with the narrow end section looking like the exhaust. The Airbus logo can also be found on the flat side of the crown (Richard Mille tends to avoid putting its own logo on its crowns).
Despite the aviation inspired exterior elements, the RM50-02 ACJ is still easily identifiable as a RM timepiece. There’s open worked design elements on its internal bridges as well as the grade five titanium baseplate, and skeletonisation has been used almost everywhere – the brand says this results in a significant weight reduction, which is something the aviation industry is also fierce about, as less weight equals faster and more fuel efficient aircraft.
The movement offers a power reserve of 70 hours – more than enough to last even the longest of flights, and Richard Mille says that certain components have been coated with a special aeronautical coating, which is normally used to protect aircraft engine and chassis parts from corrosion.
Beyond its high-tech build, the movement offers several complications including a split seconds chronograph, tourbillon, power reserve indicator, a function indicator that shows the watch’s state in each of the positions for winding, neutral and hand setting, and there’s even a torque indicator that provides information about the amount of tension in the mainspring.
Richard Mille says it has also optimised the movement so that it doesn’t exhibit chronograph hand ‘jump’, when the wearer engages the chronograph function (this slight jerk is commonly seen on watches with less advanced movements). The company has also used titanium components to reduce internal friction and thus lower the chronograph’s energy consumption.
The RM 50-02 ACJ Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph is limited to 30 pieces and commands a price tag of approximately US $988,000 (without tax). Airbus Corporate Jet clients will be able to view the timepiece at local Richard Mille boutiques, though the brand also offers a personalised service, and are able to meet clients outside of boutiques, on request.
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