Never a brand to do things by half, and unapologetically so, at SIHH 2015 Richard Mille perhaps surprised us all by saying that they would only announce four models in Geneva, with more releases to be staggered over the year. If we compare this with over one hundred new releases (and that includes variations on existing models) from Cartier, then it’s even more startling, but hey it’s Mille – if they are going to only announce four models, then you can be sure that the models aren’t aren’t ones that slip quietly into the SIHH stream.
If you’re on this page then you are likely to be familiar with the tourbillon complication. The new RM 51-02 is a high jewellery tourbillon that may be referred to as the ‘Diamond Twister’ but in fact it is a reference to the word ‘tourbillon’ which of course means ‘whirlwind’. If you had any doubts as to this, just follow the spray of diamonds from the fourteen rays back to their origin, at 6 o’clock. The diamond rays are accompanied, if that is the word, by a case that is set with white diamonds and black sapphires for contrast. Interestingly, there are even three dfferently layered rows of diamonds on the crown.
In handling this piece, one thing that stood out (apart from the heft, it is 47.95 x 39.70 x 12.60mm after all) was the smoothness of the bezel. The central dial is 18k white gold and set with 270 precious stones, and if you run your finger along the top of the diamonds, the surface is incredibly smooth – nothing there to catch a fine thread from clothing onto.
As for the movement, it is manual wind, with a power reserve indicator as well as the hours and minutes. The baseplate is Black Onyx, the skeletonised bridges and free sprung balance are Grade 5 Titanium with black PVD treatment that are hand-finished, and it has a power reserve of 48 hours. An additional security system in the form of a torque limiting crown prevents any possibility of accidental overwinding that might damage to the winding stem or exert extreme pressure on the mainspring barrel.
The case of the RM 51-02 requires forty-seven stamping operations including twenty-one for its formation. Tooling takes four hours and there are 255 milling operations.
Regardless of whether jewelled watches are your thing or not, and whether the Richard Mille brand fits your lifestyle or not, this is a helluva impressive watch to handle and see ‘in the metal’. It will be produced in a limited edition of thirty pieces with a price of 793, 500 CHF.