Thanks to its ability to implement the latest technologies, Richard Mille was able to make yet another modern piece which is unprecedented in its category. New Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1, the sole watch that the brand presented at this year’s SIHH event, is the world’s lightest split-seconds chronograph with a tourbillion. The record-setting timekeeper weighs less than 40 grams, including the strap. This was made possible with the introduction of Graph TPT material in the world of watchmaking. The newcomer made in the collaboration with McLaren-Honda racing team is launched in the limited edition of 75 pieces. Itis valued at $1,000,000. This is an extremely high price that cannot be completely justified with the supported traits of the piece, regardless of its impressive lightness and its demanding complications. For example, its tourbillion is not even visible.
The Material Worthy of a Nobel Prize
Richard Mille has the propensity toward the use of the latest technologies and materials. This approach enables them to make watches that are not truly appealing to those who value traditional values, as well as to those who are careful about how they spend their money. Before the launch of RM 50-03 McLaren F1 which premiers Graph TPT material, the brand introduced Carbon TPT in the world of watchmaking. It is an extremely light and durable material that Richard Mille used to make several of its newer models. Among them is the watch for its famed ambassador, the Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal. Now, the brand has taken a step further with the introduction of the material with even more impressive properties than Carbon TPT. Graph TPT (otherwise known as graphen) is so revolutionary that it earned the Nobel Prize in physics to the duo who came up with it, Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester.
A Joint Collaboration
The process of creating this amazingly resilient material includes was made in the collaboration of several partners, including North Thin Ply Technologies (NTPT) And McLAren Applied Technologies. It includes mixing of a resin with graphen between each of the 600 layers of carbon TPT. Then, the composite material is heated and exposed to high pressure. The end result is the material that is six times lighter than stainless steel and 200 times tougher. Since the material is so tough, the brand needed to develop special tools andn machines which allowed precise cutting of the components.
Richard Mille used Graph TPT for the bezel and case-back of the new record-setting watch and its use helps the piece to have the total weight that does not exceed 38 grams. This way, it made the world’s lightest split-seconds chronograph with a tourbillion. To be honest, this is not a category where numerous brands competed to create the lightest possible watch, but that does not make its lightness any less spectacular. Additionally, the high-tech material with its multiple layers also gives the case very specific looks. As it is common for the brand, the housing is barrel shaped. It is 44.5 mm wide, 49.65 mm long and 16.1 mm thick.
A Featherweight Movement – Modern Materials and Skeletonization
The use of modern materials is not restricted to the construction of the housing. It is likewise visible in the construction of the movement of the world’s lightest piece in its narrow category. The caliber is extremely light and it weighs only seven grams. Just like the housing, it also displays the use of new materials, alongside with careful planning and clever solutions. Its main-plate and bridges were made from titanium and TPT carbon. These are the same materials that are used in the creation of numerous components of the McLaren racing vehicles. Additionally, there is an extensive skeletonizing of the watch’s movement, wherever it was possible.
These modern traits are accompanied with traditional watchmaking techniques which were used to create high-end finishes of the movement. Among the hand-performed decorations of the newcomer’s caliber, one can notice anglage, polishing, circular graining, hand-beveling and rhodium plating.
Another cool trait is the manner in which the caliber is fixed inside the case. Richard Mille used a transverse cage in Carbon TPT that replaces the casing ring. The solution which is inspired by the wishbone suspension structure of a Formula One car is extremely useful since it provides terrific shock resistance together with the built-in KIF elastor shock-system. In-house tests showed that the structure was able to withstand shocks of up to 5,000 Gs.
To make sure that the functions of the watch with a tourbillion escapement are not influenced with the reduced weight, the watchmaker opted to decrease the energy consumption. That’s why its double chronograph has a new architecture with six column wheels that reduces the energy consumption by half. The profile of the teething of the gear train and the barrel is also changed to steady to torque and to reduced friction.
Otherwise, it should be said that the hand-wound movement of the watch has the power reserve of 70 hours. It includes 48 jewels and beats at the frequency of 21,600 vph. Its tourbillion which unfortunately cannot be seen on the front has the diameter of 12.4 mm.
In order to guarantee record lightness, the use of new materials was also extended to the creation of the strap of the watch which is made of the combination of rubber and graphene. The attachment was made together with the specialized producer BIWI S.A.
Since Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 is made together with the famed Formula One racing team, the watchmaker modeled several of the watch’s components to resemble the parts of a racing car. This is especially visible in the shape of the watch’s pushers, its crown, as well in the appearance of the skeletonzied dial. Each buyer of the new model also gets a 1:5 scale model of the McLaren formula. This is all nice, but it seems like it is hardly enough for a watch with a seven figure price.