Richard Mille RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th anniversary
With no doubt, the quintessential Formula One chronograph
When two personalities like that of Richard Mille and that of Jean Todt meet, the result can only be something exceptional and highly exclusive. The Genevan maison released 3 different models to celebrate Jean Todt’s 50 years of career as a Formula 1 manager, his current role as the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) president and his position as the former head of the Ferrari Formula 1. Since its foundation in 1999, this Swiss haute-horlogerie manufacturer has distinguished itself for its extreme technological spirit that has always characterized its creations, its design and, consequently, its engineering skills applied to watch-making (not the opposite - as it usually happens with the majority of the maisons -). This is one of the reasons why Richard Mille can be considered as a world’s unique brand.
The Richard Mille RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th anniversary focuses on lightness and performance, the same as if this timepiece were a Formula 1 racing car. The design and the shape of this Flyback chrono follow the strict rules of engineering with the case being crafted in electric blue and white TPT Quartz by using 600 layers of silica (each layer is 45 micrometre thick). The manufacturing process of TPT Quartz resembles that of the kings of composites, made of carbon fibre. Quartz crystals are melted through the combined action of pressure and temperature, thin fibre particles are then extracted from the melted crystals and these are dipped into a resin solution that transforms them into a thin material layer with fibres pointing towards a single direction.
The automatic and skeletonized calibre (in-house built by Richard Mille) is almost entirely made of grade 5 titanium alloy (it includes a 6% Aluminum and a 4% Vanadium) and it features an 18K white-gold winding rotor. The calibre sports the typical complications of a Flyback chrono (it allows the seconds hand to immediately re-start from the zero position without having to stop the chrono first), an annual calendar with automatic months adjustment, a double winding barrel wheel that guarantees up to 55 hours of power reserve, a spring that oscillates at 4Hz and 68 rubies too. The total mass of the calibre (as weight isn’t the exact word that an engineer would use) totals 9,5 grams.
Both the dial and the upper and lower crystals are made of anti-glare sapphire glass, the upper crystal is 1,5mm thick and sports a hardness of up to 1,800 Vickers (to give you an idea of the high performance level that this type of crystal can offer, please keep in mind that nitride steel can reach a hardness of up to about 1,000 Vickers). The design of this timepiece is in the typical Richard Mille shape and it is enriched by some features reminding us of the car world, in particular that of Formula 1. The winding crown looks a lot like the wheel hub of single-seater cars, while, in my opinion, the writings on the chrono buttons, remind me of the writings that you can find on the steering wheel of single-seater cars. The ample date section is located at 12 o’clock, while the month indicator is located between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock; the date change happens semi-instantly as soon as midnight strikes.
As a Ducati engineer, I cannot avoid a comparison between the Richard Mille RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th anniversary and our most prestigious creation; the 1299 Panigale Superleggera. Exclusivity deeply roots in top-notch technical features, the extreme research of materials and very limited manufacturing numbers (150 samples in total). It is not the retail price that makes this timepiece unique, but rather its uniqueness that determines the CHF 150,000 retail price (at today’s rate exchange, that translates into about 130,000 euro).
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Matteo Bulla @Horbiter®