Richard Mille introduced NTPT carbon — a watch-industry first — into its men’s timepiece collection in 2013. At the upcoming SIHH watch salon in Geneva, the brand adds a feminine twist to the avant-garde material, unveiling a pair of ladies’ watches with gem-set NTPT carbon cases.
North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) carbon, a material used in the sails of racing yachts, is composed of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by dividing carbon fibers. The layers, with a maximum thickness of 30 microns, are then impregnated with resin and woven on a special machine that modifies the direction of the weft by 45° between layers. Heated to 120°C at a pressure of 6 bars, the NTPT is then processed on a CNC machine in Richard Mille’s Proart case factory. Setting gemstones into the cases presents an additional set of challenges. Unlike materials such as gold, which can be worked directly with tools to create the diamond-holding prongs, NTPT’s extreme hardness and resistance requires special CNC milling machines equipped with diamond tools to perform the pavé setting procedure. Hand-polished prongs in rose or white gold are produced separately and then inserted around the .25-mm bearings.
The two new watches, both with gem-set NTPT bezels and 5N rose-gold casebands, are the Richard Mille Automatic RM 07-01 Ladies and Automatic RM 037 Ladies. The RM 07-01 (above) has a 45.66 mm x 31.4 mm tonneau case and contains the Richard Mille Caliber CRMA2, a skeletonized automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve and an adjustable, variable-inertia rotor that can be set according to the owner’s activity level. The baseplate and bridges are made of grade 5 titanium. Other technical features common to Richard Mille calibers include the fast-rotating barrel (5 hours per revolution rather than 7.5 hours); titanium spline screws for better torque better torque control during movement assembly; and a free-spring balance with variable inertia for improved shock absorption and better chronometric results. The three-part case is water-resistant to 50 meters and features a patented stem-crown construction that secures the winding crown to the case and makes it virtually impossible to dislodge.
The Richard Mille RM 037 has a larger case (52.63 mm x 34.4 mm) and its movement, the automatic CRMA1, offers several additional functions, including an oversize date and function selector. The NTPT Full Set version boasts no less than 250 diamonds. The semi-instantaneous oversize date display, located at 12 o’clock on the dial, uses two skeletonized calendar disks over a white field and is correctable via the pusher at 10 o’clock on the case. Another pusher, at 4 o’clock, operates the function selector, which allows the user to select “winding,” “neutral,” or “hand-setting” mode in a manner to similar to a car’s gearbox. The aperture at 4 o’clock displays the selected function, with “W” for winding, “N” for neutral, and “H” for hand-setting.
Prices for both new Richard Mille ladies’ watches will be set at SIHH 2017 in January.