Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, Richard Mille drops its most complicated watch ever. It’s a watch designed for travelers, and produced as a collaboration with Airbus Corporate Jets. As such, it’s designed with the extremely affluent and very frequent flyer in mind – in addition to its tourbillon, it also has an oversized date, a GMT hand indicating the time in a second time zone, an indicator for the 70-hour power reserve, and an alarm. The alarm is a first for Richard Mille, and while not, of course, the first alarm watch, it is a first in how the alarm works. Instead of an audible alarm, it is a vibrating one, meant to be felt only by the wearer and not heard by anyone else. This is achieved by using a special oscillating mass that looks a bit like an automatic winding rotor, which spins at a high enough speed to produce a vibration that can be felt but not heard.
I must admit, I did have a chuckle when I read the press release which said “The RM 62-01 is designed for the discretion prevailing in the hushed atmosphere of luxury.” The new RM 62-01 is anything but discreet. The RM 62-01 has a double bezel – one is satin-polished titanium and the second milled from a block of Carbon TPT to a wafer-thin thickness of 1.8 mm. The combination of titanium and Carbon TPT ensures that vibrations produced by the alarm are transferred to the wrist, rather than to the movement.
Looking at the watch head-on (I haven’t had the opportunity to eyeball it in the metal), we see a pusher located at the center of the crown, from where it is possible to wind the watch, set the time, set the alarm and adjust the UTC indication. A disc at three o’clock displays the selected mode against a light-colored ground: N (Neutral) — W (winding) — T (time setting) — U (UTC hand setting) — A (Alarm setting). The UTC indicator for a second time zone is indicated by the green hand at the centre. And at nine o’clock, below the sapphire dial, the tourbillon shows off its free-sprung balance which oscillates at 3Hz. The oversize date is positioned at 12 o’clock and framed by an aperture with the red hatching we often see from Richard Mille. Finally, the 70-hour power reserve can be seen at 11 o’clock. All functions relating to the vibrating alarm are grouped on the lower part of the main dial.
The rotating weight that produces the alarm vibrations is machined from a single piece of white gold, precisely calibrated to spin at 5,400 rpm and adjusted to the nearest minute of a full 24 hours. This is set using the function selector situated at three o’clock. The maximum duration of the vibration is 12 seconds. I wonder if down the line you will be able to manually set the vibration duration. The alarm is wound, not by winding the crown, but by pressing 12 times on the pusher at eight o’clock.
This isn’t the first time we have seen RM x Airbus Corporate Jets collaboration. The first was back in 2016 with the RM 50-02 Tourbillon ACJ. Where the RM 50-02 echoed the stark white profile of a jumbo jet, the RM 62-01 is said to be inspired by the dark wood panelling from a bespoke cabin interior designed by Sylvain Mariat, Head of ACJ Creative Design. “The sapphire glass, shaped like an airplane window, crowns the many indicators, which remain easily legible thanks to their color codes and strong contrast,” he is quoted as saying in the press release. “The extra-wide diameter titanium crown recalls a jet turbine, whilst the pushers evoke the profile of pylons connecting the engine and wing.”
My views on Richard Mille have gone through many stages. I went from repulsion to curiosity to appreciation, and am currently very much in the later state of mind. It has taken me quite some time (no pun intended) to come to the realization that watches are about fun, first and foremost, and reasonably priced accurate timekeeping, for many (though certainly not all) interesting watches is well, well down the list. Having spent some time with the Bonbon Collection at SIHH earlier this year, I get it. Richard Mille is pushing the envelope in every way, and that must be celebrated. Would I be in the market to buy? Absolutely not. Does its DNA resonate with my passion for reduction and simplicity? No. Do I think they make some incredible objects that set hearts racing? Yes.
Let’s not forget, this is a $300 wristwatch. Any logical discussion around the size of that crown or the price kind of need to go out the window. One thing is for sure, there are enough crazy cats out there to make this reference an overnight sensation, and, given its availability, we will no doubt see similar boutique-only editions down the line.