Richard Mille RM028
In 1999, carmaker Pagani threw down the gauntlet for luxury goods. The Italian manufacturer forgot about restraints on creativity, ignored budget limits and time restrictions, and created a car to the designers’ dream specifications. No expense was spared in the production of the Zonda, a 6.0 litre V12 bespoke hypercar that was custom designed for ultimate luxury and performance—from the carbon chassis right down to the made-to-measure speedometer.
A few years later in 2001, Richard Mille accepted the challenge, setting out to create ‘a racing machine for the wrist’: the RM001. The boutique watchmaker took the same no-holds-barred approach to its creation—but this was more of a gamble than Pagani had taken. An unknown brand had burst onto the watchmaking scene with a watch boasting an asking price of over £100,000. It was a comparative bargain compared to the £1.3 million Zonda—but it’s a much harder sell to convince someone to part with multiple thousands of pounds for something that fits on your wrist than it is for a whole car. Richard Mille accomplished this by creating a watch so revolutionary that it was worth every penny of its astounding price tag.
The brand changed the industry forever with its watchmaking methods, poring over drafts for months and experimenting with new materials, new design concepts and utilising a previously unseen level of attention to detail that bordered on the obsessive-compulsive. It combined expensive precious metals with innovative, contemporary materials like carbon nanofibre and zirconium alloy ceramic. It placed a premium on ergonomics and comfort, so that a watch could be worn every day without the wearer noticing it. There had never been anything like the RM001 before.
By the time the RM028 came along in 2010, unparalleled engineering was standard practice at Richard Mille. The watch took the racing machine for the wrist below the waves, trading the brand’s signature tonneau shape for the classic round case of the diver. It originally retailed at £88,000, making it the more “affordable” brother of the RM025 Tourbillon Chronograph, the brand’s more complicated diver which retailed at a staggering price of over half a million pounds. They’re the kind of RRPs that make you wince at first sight—but just a few minutes of close inspection of the watch on your wrist makes you reconsider that reaction.
Custom built from the ground up, even the very smallest of details—the kind most people wouldn’t even notice—are exceptional. The bezel is dotted with 22 tiny eight-point screws, that can each be individually adjusted to offer better torque control. This means that when you turn the bezel (which, for maximum safety, can only be moved by pushing the buttons at 12 and 6 o’clock), the ratcheting mechanism feels precise and satisfying. Intricate layering of the dial adds depth to the front of the watch, which might at first appear cluttered because of the skeletonisation, but in fact is surprisingly easy to read thanks to the bold numbers and broad, luminous hands.
At 47mm in diameter and 14.6mm, the RM028 is pretty sizeable, but it’s not in the slightest bit cumbersome to wear. It feels remarkably lightweight due to the titanium case and movement components, and of course, comfort was one of the key focuses of the design. The case was inspired by Formula 1 movement structure, making it flexible in the places where give is needed, and stiff and robust in others; £88,000 worth of watch feels like almost nothing at all on the wrist, and that’s the point.
But this watch's beauty isn’t simply skin deep; the RM028 can be specifically tailored to the lifestyle of its wearer. The variable geometry rotor is an exotic mix of materials, combining titanium flanges with a tungsten/cobalt alloy weight and ceramic ball bearings. The white gold wings are fully adjustable, so whether you’re very active or have more of a relaxed, sedentary approach to life, the rotor can be set to wind the timepiece accordingly. Double barrel mainsprings mean a more even torque distribution over the watch’s 55 hour power reserve, and the RM028’s 300m water resistance and button-activated bezel mean the watch meets ISO 6425 diver’s watch standards. There’s even a semi-instantaneous date thrown in for good measure.
The amount of work put into each RM028 is mind-boggling—and you’ve got to remember, this level of engineering goes into each and every watch Richard Mille produces. The three part case of the diver alone requires 68 separate stamping procedures and 202 individual machining operations, taking a whole 18 days before completion. This comes after hundreds of hours of research and development before the watch can even go intro production. Yes, the watches are expensive—but that’s because Richard Mille puts no limit on the lengths it will go to create timepieces that are like nothing seen before. What price would you pay for the watch of your dreams?
Watch Spec | Richard Mille RM028
Case: Titanium Dimensions: 47mm Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 300m Movement: Automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power Reserve: 55 hours Strap: Rubber Functions: Time, date | Shop Now