The Richard Mille RM030 Polo Club de Saint-Tropez - 30 minutes on the wrist
The last time that I walked into the Richard Mille boutique in Milan I promised to myself and to my readers that I would soon cover some of the timepieces on display there. I have just started reviewing the brand's watches but this is only the beginning of the sage, as more and more timepieces by Richard Mille will be covered in the coming months. Both from an aesthetical and technological point of view (please note that I didn't use the term “technical” because that would be somehow diminishing) this brand is so out of the ordinary that each one of their timepieces has a story of its own to tell.
The Richard Mille RM030 Polo Club de Saint-Tropez was crafted in just 50 pieces (it was originally launched in 2014) but when it comes to a limited edition watch from this brand you need to keep in mind that Richard Mille produces such a small quantity of watches per year that even a stock model is very limited in number. Moreover you should not think of a limited edition model from this brand the same way you are used to do when dealing with any limited edition timepiece from other brands because this is a completely different story.
On the surface of this timepiece you will only spot a very few clues of the partnership relationship existing between the watchmaker and the renowned Polo club (take a look, for instance, at the logo printed on the transparent back-case) but what is actually this watch's strength is its wide array of technical features and Richard Mille's revolutionary idea of creating an additional niche within the already existing niche of the high-end watchmaking.
Let’s start by taking a look at the outside of this timepiece: the case is made up of two curved shells of ATZ ceramic with a grade 5 titanium insert in the middle. The acronym ATZ stands for “Alumina Toughened Zirconia”, which means that this alloy is not simply made of ceramic but it is actually some sort of a compound made of Ceramic and Ultra Purity Alumina. As we all know ceramic is scratchproof but not very resilient (the material resistance depends however on the item's shape) and thanks to the addition of the Alumina the material's mechanical strength (that is usually easily crackable when only zirconium oxide has been used) is highly enhanced.
The white bezel contrasts with the transparent dial, making this watch one of the brightest Richard Mille timepieces ever crafted. The see-through dial with its big Arabic numerals is one of the brand’s trademarks but it also makes the dial a bit overcrowded and also a bit difficult to read. Fine mechanics plays the main role here and makes it almost unnecessary to discuss topics like the watch's balance wheel frequency or even its Power Reserve. The strongest point of this item's manufacturing is the combination of light materials (titanium and carbon fiber), special treatments (Tytalit on the bridges and on the main plate) and refined engineering (the sapphire dial is just 0,4mm thick) that create a very complicated yet light watch. Can we say that lightness and overall resistance are the strenghts of a Richard Mille watch and that they are also something making this brand stand out from the competition? Perhaps they are but to be absolutely sure of that it would be necessary to run some comparative tests.
When it comes to the watch's movement nothing has been built for the sake of pure aesthetics but it is all performance driven: the movement features a declutchable rotor which prevents the watch from overwinding when it is fully wound and it also features a free sprung balance with variable inertia. The first device is connected directly to the Power Reserve indicator so that it enables the latter to stop indicating (or else the rotor will stop charging) when the Power Reserve has reached 50 hours and to automatically reactivate when it goes below 40 hours. This features enhances the watch's chronometric precision that reaches its peak when the mechanical timepiece is fully wound. The dial is covered by a slightly cambered sapphire crystal with a variable thickness (1,20mm at the center and 2,04mm on the outer edges) and is treated with anti-reflective material on both sides.
To summarize: the Richard Mille RM030 Polo Club de Saint-Tropez is an amazing high-end timepiece geared towards the most experienced and demanding watch-lovers (and probably very rich ones given its retail price of 140,500CHF) with a passion for pure and excellent (micro) mechanics and an eye for original and innovative technical solutions also. It’s pretty hard to to discuss whether one might like it or not and also to discuss this timepiece's degree of comfort on the wrist because the latter is, for instance, a given in a sector where engineering is always excellent. Any evaluation, based just on a two-hour experience, could be trivial to say the least and it would make much more sense to discuss the brand's competitors and what they offer, but in order to do that I would need to test lots of watches for a day (I can already think of at least a couple of them that I would like to try.) The Richard Mille RM030 Polo Club de Saint-Tropez is obviously for the very few people who can understand and appreciate the use of the most advanced materials, true innovation and solutions which have been designed not just to amaze us all but to perfectly perform every single day and on every occasion. Everything in this timepiece has been thoroughly thought out up to the smallest detail.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)