Introduced in 2007, Richard Mille’s RM 011 flyback chronograph model has become a mainstay of the brand’s ever-growing collection. This year, Richard Mille retires the RM 011 to make room for its successor, and this week’s Watch to Watch, the newly introduced RM 11-03.
Richard Mille’s watchmakers designed the new watch’s automatic movement, Caliber RMAC3, to “bring its complexity to the fore visually,” according to the company. Some of the notable elements include glossy bevelled rims, marked with intermediate times, which surround the colorful subdial counters for the flyback chronograph and the seconds display; an upper bridge in satin-brushed grade 5 titanium that contrasts with the PVD-coated titanium parts of the movement; and an outsized date window to draw attention to the watch’s annual calendar functions. The 12-hour chronograph counter shares a subdial with a countdown function.
On the backside of the movement, a satin-brushed PVD-treated lower bridge highlights the double-barrel mechanism while the new variable-geometry rotor, made of grade 5 titanium, evokes the aerodynamic designs common in Formula 1 automobiles. This type of rotor, which is exclusive to Richard Mille, allows the watch’s wearer to adjust the automatic winding of the watch to the level of his or her activity by varying its inertia by means of two microblasted and chamfered wings in 18K white gold. Mounted on ceramic ball bearings and made of satin-brushed, PVD-treated titanium, the rotor offers six possible positions.
Caliber RMAC3 is designed to be extraordinarily rigid, with a baseplate and bridges made of grade 5 titanium that enable a high performance level for its gear trains. Its two mainspring barrels are mounted side-by-side to ensure stable coupling while providing the watch a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. The highly shock-resistant free-sprung balance oscillates at 4 Hz and can be tuned more precisely than a traditional balance wheel.
Richard Mille has also upgraded the three-part tonneau case of the RM 11-03’s predecessor, adding more modernized its lines and giving it a sportier, more ergonomic silhouette — a process that requires more protracted machining times and a highly skilled level of manual workmanship —including for the chamfering and buffing of the surfaces, a delicate, time consuming process executed entirely by hand. This case — measuring 49.94 mm x 44.5 mm in diameter — was first used on the brand’s RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal watch and has become a defining feature of all Richard Mille’s sportier watches.
In addition to the Formula One-style movement architecture, the RM 11-03 has other details that recall automobile racing: the grade 5 titanium crown uses design codes of competition wheel rims and tire treads, while the grooved chronograph pushers, also in titanium, resemble a car’s pedals. These pushers, in turn, are protected by covers made of NTPT carbon, a material also used commonly in F1 race cars. The watch’s case — available in rose gold, titanium, or a combo of both — is held together by 20 grade 5 titanium spline screws and features a nonreflective sapphire exhibition back that reveals the movement’s many parts and mechanisms. Prices are $115,000 in titanium, $130,000 for titanium and rose gold, and $160,000 in all rose gold.