When you think Richard Mille, outrageous tourneau shaped ultra-light sports watches come to mind. You respect the brand for what it has accomplished it is short 21 year history, but you certainly don’t think top of the line haute horology. Well, the brand has just taken that perception and thrown it out the window with its record breaking 1.75mm thick RM UP-01 Ferarri release. Colour me surprised. Let’s get into it.
Design, Watch Specifications & Movement
Grade 5 Titanium, 51mm x 1.75mm x 39mm case, Black Dial with white indices, 10m water resistant, Rubber Strap
Calibre RM UP-01, Time only & crown function selector, 1.18mm thick, Manual Wind
On a record setting watch like this, it would be impossible to dichotomise the movement and watch design, since the latter is very much driven by how the movement has been reengineered to allow for such feats. That is definitely the case here.
In order to achieve a breakthrough in thickness reduction, Richard Mille worked with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi to redesign the escapement of the watch, particularly the balance wheel. Together, they developed movement that spreads out all the required parts horizontally instead of stacking them. And to push the limits of thinness, they also engineered a new patented variable inertia balance wheel made in titanium to allow for the removal the traditional guard pin and safety roller. Remarkably, the movement still allows for a respectable 45 hours of power reserve and also is capable of handling accelerations over 5,000Gs.
The movement is extremely good looking and could well be a piece of mechanical art on a mini credit card. This is despite the absence of any particularly elaborate finishing. It is a shame that the brand covered it up with a solid case back but perhaps that was required to achieve the thinnest it did, since at this level, every micron counts.
On the dial side of the elongated barrel shaped case, the watch appears more like a car display than a watch, which then makes this collaboration with Ferrari make sense. The analogue speedometer looking dial takes up less than 1/6 of the real estate on the front, comprising only of a white minute track and a hour & miniute indicator that looks like a wheel casing/hub. The hour markers are engraved outside the dial.
To the right of the dial, we have a skeletonised balance wheel. To the left, we have an innovative selector between setting the time and winding the watch, forming one half of the crown. The other half, which allows for either winding or setting the time is located below the selector. Finally, we have partially framed engraving of the Ferrari stallion logo below the dial and balance wheel. Frankly, this inclusion makes the watch look like a passable money clip in my opinion.
Price & Availability
CHF 1,700,000, Limited to 150 pieces
Unsurprisingly, the watch is extremely pricey. But then again, given that this is a record breaking watch, that is actually wearable on a regular basis, it is hard to fault the price. 150 pieces is also a decent number of watches to produce for something like this.
When a watch sets a record like this, even if it is only by 0.05mm, it deserves all the plaudits it gets. It doesn’t even matter that the watch will wear large, if not thick, or that the time telling portion of the dial is extremely limited. I really like the fact that the watch has been tested for real world conditions like the 5,000Gs rating and at least a 10m water resistant. It reflects the desire by the brand that the watch is actually used and not made just to be a display piece, so kudos to Richard Mille. Let’s see if Bvlgari of Piaget has anything to say about the crown that they have just been beaten to.