Using terms like “entry-level” or “mid-range” always feels a bit disingenuous when discussing Richard Mille, as even the brand’s simplest creations are technically advanced and stratospherically priced. When the time comes to replace one of Richard Mille’s mid-range staples, then, expectations are understandably high. After the recent discontinuation of the cornerstone RM 11 flyback chronograph series, fans of the marque have been left wondering what would replace it in the lineup. Now, Richard Mille has given the world a look at the first iteration of its next-generation manufacture flyback chronograph: the RM 72-01. Released with no shortage of fanfare, including a literal song and dance routine from renowned composer Thomas Roussel, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and the London Symphony Orchestra, the Richard Mille RM 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph maintains the brand’s signature look while debuting some truly groundbreaking horological innovations.
The RM 72-01 maintains the brand’s signature curved tonneau case form held together with 20 spline screws, here sized at 38.4mm by 47.3mm. Available in grade 5 titanium, 5N red gold, black ceramic, and white ceramic variants, this familiar form is filled with detailed touches like a rubberized crown topped with a detailed red gold and black ceramic signature, along with aggressive pentagonal pushers made from a mix of red gold and black ceramic for a dramatic visual highlight. As with all Richard Mille models, the RM 72-01 offers a wide sapphire display back for an unimpeded view of the new in-house movement within, while maintaining a slightly underwhelming 30-meter water resistance.
Where the case design of the Richard Mille RM 72-01 feels familiar to the brand’s signature look, the dial design innovates the skeletal Richard Mille style into new and expressive forms. Abandoning the traditional 3-6-9 o’clock three register layout of the RM 11 series chronographs, the RM 72-01 instead places its subdials at 1 o’clock, 5 o’clock, and a small seconds at 9 o’clock. The result, coupled with the sweeping curves of the titanium skeleton dial bridges, looks alien, almost biological in design. The futuristic rose gold dauphine hands feel almost like thorns in this context, supported by arrow tipped chronograph and small seconds hands that have been color-coded for visual drama as much as easy reference at a glance. Three bold applied Arabic numerals at 11 o’clock, 3 o’clock, and 8 o’clock help to solidify this unorthodox, organic sense of symmetry, accented by a vertical skeleton date window at 5 o’clock.
The real gem of the Richard Mille RM 72-01, however, is the movement. Richard Mille has developed an all-new manufacture movement for this series, the Calibre CRMC1 automatic flyback chronograph movement. The titanium Calibre CRMC1 is a testbed for several advancements in horology, most notably Richard Mille’s patented new oscillating pinion chronograph coupling system. By connecting the traditional column wheel engaging mechanism to a series of two oscillating pinions connected to rockers, all three chronograph hands receive torque directly from the mainspring barrel, rather than routing this energy through the base movement. The result is that timekeeping for the base movement is completely unaffected by the use of the chronograph, and the movement’s 50-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate remains steady regardless of chronograph usage. In addition, the Calibre CRMC1 boasts a shock-resistant free-sprung balance, a compact bidirectional platinum winding rotor, and a faster rotating mainspring barrel that completes its cycle once every five hours for smoother power delivery and reduced internal mainspring adhesion. Of course, the skeletonized bridges and plates featuring micro-blasted surfaces and hand-polished chamfers are a visual spectacle as much as a mechanical one. Like most of the brand’s models, Richard Mille pairs the RM 72-01 with an integrated tapering rubber strap, in either black or white.
While the aggressive bio-futuristic look may not be for everyone, the sheer mechanical prowess of the Richard Mille RM 72-01 is undeniably impressive as the brand moves forward into a new decade.