Richard Mille RM002
In 2001, the RM001 was released as Richard Mille’s flagship piece, giving the world a tantalising taste of what was to come—but the RM002 was what really secured the company’s place in ultra-high-end watchmaking. As the second born, it had lofty expectations to live up to—as well as a substantial RRP to justify—and the brand wasn’t pulling any punches when it came to demonstrating exactly why its creations were more than worth the money.
Starting from the outside in, the rose gold case is itself an exploit in expert engineering. With a smart, tonneau shape, it fits the wrist snugly with a comfortable curve—but the process to get that ergonomic shape took an entire year of research and development. The case is ‘sandwich style’, with three separate pieces coming together to form the final product—front bezel, caseband and back bezel. The individual pieces must go through rigorous shaping and testing—according to the brand, each rough case is subject to 202 machining operations—and only then will construction move on to finer details like pushers and crowns, as well as the hand-polished finish.
Inside the RM002, the innovation continues. In 2004, Richard Mille began using carbon nanofiber baseplate technology, which was then rolled out to be used in its other earlier models, like the RM002. A cutting-edge aeronautic material, the nanofiber is created under the exceedingly high pressure of 740 bar and a temperature of 2,000°C. This makes it both uniquely well-suited to act as a movement baseplate—it’s ultra-light, as well as resistant to shocks and changes to temperature—while also making it a difficult material to work with at the accuracy demanded by watchmaking.
The incorporation of the material is just one of the many ways in which the brand’s watchmakers showcase their substantial skills—but perhaps the most obvious is demonstrated at 6 o’clock, through a spectacular skeletonised dial. Like the RM001 before it, the RM002 is a tourbillon. Arguably one of the most difficult—and prestigious—of complications, the tourbillon is a modification to the escapement that prevents the effects of gravity from impacting on the accuracy of the movement by mounting the escapement in a rotating cage.
Just above this whirring delight and to the top right of the dial, you’ll find another function that was added to Richard Mille’s repertoire with the release of the RM002; a torque indicator. This nifty display adds to the utility of the piece, giving the wearer an indication of the mainspring’s tension, preventing irregular functioning of the movement due to either too much slack or too much tension of the spring.
With all of this going on, the piece still has a power reserve of up to a maximum of 70 hours. An indicator to let you know just how much juice is left sits at 10 o’clock, while a discreet function selector to the bottom right of the dial allows the wearer to effortlessly switch from winding, neutral and hand-setting functions with a simple push of a button at the centre of the crown.
Richard Mille is a brand now famous for taking a conceptual approach to watchmaking, building upon and experimenting with classical traditions (you can read more about how it achieved that reputation here.) All of the company’s highly technical creations are built entirely in-house, with extreme attention to detail—and when you take a closer look at that detail, a multi-thousand pound price tag suddenly doesn’t seem so unreasonable.
Watch Spec | Richard Mille RM002
Case | 18k rose gold Dimensions | 38mm Crystal | Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance | 50m Movement | RM002, manual Frequency | 21,600vph Power Reserve | 70 hours Strap | Black leather Functions | Time, power reserve, torque indicator, tourbillon