facebook twitter pinterest instagram You Tube

Best Of The Best 2006: Richard Mille RM 009

James D. Malcolmson

Richard Mille, the maverick watch designer who, with his industrial-looking complicated timepieces, triggered the wave of modernism that recently swept the watch industry, is now expanding our notion of precious metals. He claims that his latest high-performance tourbillon, the $349,000 RM 009, is the lightest mechanical watch ever made, which may seem a dubious distinction for those who associate the heft of gold or platinum with value. From Mille’s perspective, however, lightness is as much a performance-enhancing trait in watches as it is in automobiles.

Mille’s principle of utilizing the most efficient materials available demanded that he look beyond titanium, which other Swiss companies sometimes use for specialty models, to Alusic, an exotic alloy of aluminum and silicon that he had worked with while employed in the auto racing and aerospace industries. Lighter than titanium and much harder than aluminum, the alloy is better suited than either for use in a watch case, but it is extremely difficult to work with and very expensive. Alusic requires centrifugal casting and laborious milling operations—which make manufacturing techniques with conventional precious metals seem rudimentary in comparison. These processes do, however, produce a watch that weighs a mere 28 grams (just shy of one ounce).

Aside from its light touch on the scale, the RM 009 is perhaps Richard Mille’s cleanest-looking watch, with a cutaway baseplate, drilled wheels, and uncoated parts that clearly display his imaginative take on watch design. Several years into the modernist movement he helped start, Mille remains at its forefront.

Richard Mille
310.205.5555,
www.richardmille.com

Read Next Article >>
The new Graham Tourbillon Orrery celebrates the 300th anniversary of the Orrery, the tabletop...
The first in a series of three limited editions, the Bugatti Mythe helps celebrate the companies’...
The timepiece includes design elements inspired by the iconic vehicles…
The new wristwatch is the first in the world to include only Fairmined-certified gold…
The new watch features an elegant grand feu enamel dial…
With form to match their function, these new timepieces are both fashion accessories and underwater...
Photo by Tino Hammid
A special exhibition spotlights one of the world’s rarest gems…
The perfect travel companion, the watch can display the time in two separate time zones…
The famed 1925 pocket watch once owned by Henry Graves is the most complicated timepiece ever built...
The new timepieces are equipped with tourbillon movements just 2.97 mm thick…