Richard Mille has long been known for using unusual and often unprecedented materials in its timepieces, many drawn from the worlds of automobiles and aeronautics. Now the brand has announced another horological world-first — a case made of NTPT (North Thin Ply Technology) carbon, to be used in a new version of the brand’s RM011 Flyback Chronograph watch.
Richard Mille has reached into the world of nautical technology for its newest material. NTPT carbon was originally developed for the sails of racing yachts. Sails manufactured from it are highly resistant and light, and have been used in vessels that won regattas. The composite material, which is composed of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by dividing carbon fibers, has also been used for Formula 1 car chassis for the last two racing seasons, and in aeronautics for the fuselage of the future Solar Impulse 2 aircraft.
The surface of NTPT carbon displays a distinctive undulating pattern, similar to a wood grain, formed by the layers. The layers, with a maximum thickness of 30 microns, are impregnated with resin, then woven on a special machine that modifies the direction of the weft by 45° between layers, which creates this eye-catching visual effect. Heated to 120°C at a pressure of 6 bars, the NTPT is then processed on a CNC machine in Richard Mille’s new Proart case factory in the Swiss Jura, which began operation this year.
When compared to other composite materials, whose exceptional physical properties are already well known, NTPT carbon improves the rate of occurrence of breaking stresses by 25 percent and of micro-cracks by 200 percent.
The RM 011 Flyback Chronograph (pictured below in a forged carbon case) is powered by Richard Mille’s automatic RMAC1 caliber, which includes a large date at 12 o’clock, a month display at 4 o’clock ,and a chronograph with flyback function. The movement, which is made entirely of titanium, has a 55-hour power reserve provided by its double-barrel system wound by a variable-geometry rotor.