Auto racing enthusiast Richard Mille has long been inspired by cars and motorsports in the designs for his eponymous watch brand, but the new RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt, which makes its official debut at next month’s SIHH watch fair in Geneva, is the first to include a complication dedicated to road safety.
Following in the footsteps — or the tire treads, if you will — of previous racing-inspired pieces like the Felipe Massa and Le Mans limited editions, the new watch features a tourbillon movement, made entirely of grade-5 titanium and ARCAP on a carbon nanofiber baseplate, inside an ergonomically crafted tonneau case made of titanium. The movement, Caliber RM 036, is manually wound and has a power reserve of 70 hours. Like other Richard Mille movements, it has a a free-sprung balance with variable inertia; a fast-rotating barrel; and a “function selector” reminiscent of a car’s gearbox to select the hand-setting mode with the push of a button in the crown.
What sets this watch apart is its mechanical G-sensor system, which Mille developed in cooperation with his longtime friend, French motorsports executive Jean Todt. “G-force” refers to the extra weight felt by a body that is rapidly accelerating or decelerating in any direction — much like experiencing extra gravitational pull. Richard Mille’s mechanism, which is assembled directly on the baseplate, is designed to visually display the “Gs” accumulated by the watch’s wearer during rapid deceleration, thus making a driver aware when he is approaching dangerous road speeds. (Click on photos for larger images.)
The G-sensor system, built and patented by Renaud et Papi exclusively for Richard Mille, is composed of more than 50 parts and measures only 17 mm. The company says it can withstand decelerations of several tens of G’s. While the wearer is driving, he can read the scale, located at 12 o’clock, which has a needle indicating whether he is decelerating at a safe (green zone) or unsafe (red zone) speed. To reset the scale to zero, you simply press the push-piece at 9 o’clock. Although Richard Mille has not provided a detailed explanation of how the sensor operates, it appears that as G-force increases, a weight slides along two parallel rods. The weight’s movement is then transferred to the scale’s hand, moving it from green to red, provided the watch is properly oriented to the direction of travel.
The RM 036 was officially presented on December 7th at the FIA awards ceremony in Istanbul. Only 15 pieces of the RM 036 will be made, with some profits from their sale to be donated to the FIA Action for Road Safety, a global organization devoted to road safety, and to the ICM Brain and Spine Institute, an initiative co-founded by the watch’s namesake, Todt.
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