Six years after releasing its first polo watch developed with Argentinean polo professional Pablo Mac Donough (RM 53), Richard Mille (RM) has announced its successor at SIHH 2018. It’s called the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough and like its predecessor, this new watch is designed to survive the abuse of polo. But, unlike its closed-dial predecessor which was limited to just 15-pieces, this new model has a dial that is protected by sapphire glass (laminated sapphire glass to be exact).
This new model is limited to 30-pieces and if you’re familiar with recent Richard Mille creations, the RM 53-01 is instantly recognisable, thanks to its tonneau shaped case. The 44.5mm x 49.93mm case is made from Carbon TPT, which RM says is light, almost indestructible and offers ideal shock protection. The case is water resistant to 50m and is paired with a blue silicone strap.
As I said before, the fully visible movement on this watch is protected by laminated sapphire glass, which is a world premiere in the watchmaking industry. The brand says that in the event the crystal takes a serious hit, it may crack but because it is laminated, it will not shatter or splinter thus protecting the movement beneath it. RM notes that it trialed the sapphire in impact pendulum testing when a metal spike was added to the 4.5kg weight that slammed into the glass.
The movement, as you’d expect of a high-end Richard Mille watch, has its own shock/protection system. The calibre’s double grade 5 titanium baseplate (even the bridges are in titanium) is attached to the case by two braided steel cables, which are just 0.27mm thick. These cables suspend the movement and RM says the calibre can withstand accelerations of over 5,000g’s (a bit overkill as I don’t think you’ll frequently experience that in polo or day-to-day life).
The two cables are held firm by an intricate cable-suspension system with tensioners located at the three and nine o’clock positions and no less than 10 pulleys (check out the picture below). The brand notes that once the cables have been threaded by the watchmaker, he or she then tensions them by rotating a central tensioner ring. It’s an impressive system however it’s not something that’s new to the brand – it was last seen on the equally impressive RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal.
The handwound movement features a 12.4mm tourbillon at six o’clock and beats at a frequency of 3Hz. Power reserve is said to be about 70-hours and RM has deployed a high-efficiency winding system, a fast-rotating barrel (six hours rather than 7.5-hours), which offers more consistent performance and a free-sprung, variable inertia balance. The balance spring comes from Nivarox and is fashioned from elinvar, a nickel-iron alloy whose elasticity does not change much with temperature changes.
The RM 53-01 costs an eye-watering $900,000 but knowing Richard Mille’s global clientele, we’d bet that this watch is already sold out.
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