The announcement of a new brand partnership is an almost everyday occurrence in the world of horology. This leads to watch brands of all sizes lining themselves up with a variety of luxury products and celebrity ambassadors. Despite the negativity that occasionally surrounds these partnerships from a consumer perspective, it has often felt like the most organic brand relationships have stemmed from the automotive industry. Around this time last year, it was announced that Richard Mille and McLaren had joined forces. During the Geneva Motor Show last week, we finally got to see what the forward-thinking pair had come up with.
With just a glance, you can tell that the RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph is a Richard Mille product. The tonneau shape, skeletonized dial, and polychromatic aesthetic leave no doubt about that.
Born from the minds of McLaren Design Director Rob Melville and Richard Mille Engineer Fabrice Namura, the new watch is made from Carbon TPT interlaced with Orange Quartz TPT. TPT is Thin Ply Technology, a proprietary method of layering carbon fiber (which is why you can see the horizontal striations) that Richard Mille introduced in 2013. The orange is, of course, a reference to the many different McLaren vehicles that have used the same tint. Titanium pushers are meant to recall the highlights of the McLaren 720S. Titanium inserts, similar in shape to the McLaren F1’s air-intake snorkel and bearing the McLaren logo, adorn the bezel. The grade 5 titanium crown is shaped like a McLaren wheel.
Inside the watch is the RMAC3 caliber, which was originally released in 2016 and features a flyback chronograph complication, annual calendar functionality, and a big date. It’s powered by two parallel barrels and a balance wheel utilizing variable inertia, allowing a 55-hour power reserve. Barrel winding is ensured by a variable geometry rotor that enables personalized winding adjustable to the wearer’s activity level. This was inspired by the fact that a race car’s chassis must always exhibit torque resistance while remaining lightweight. Richard Mille followed that idea to produce the baseplate and bridges of PVD-treated grade 5 titanium so that the going train could reach the required stiffness and still be functional.
The RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph is limited to 500 total pieces and has a high price tag at $191,500. Like other watches that have been the result of timepiece and car partnerships, the RM 11-03 is strictly limited to McLaren Ultimate Series customers who have the option of matching the edition number of their McLaren to the caseback number of their RM 11-03 McLaren.