Deconstructed Watch: Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Fans of Richard Mille and Ferrari alike have been looking forward to seeing just how unusual a timepiece the high-end, high-tech watch maker could create in celebration of the partnership between the two marques that was announced last year.
But few could have expected anything quite so radical as this, the record-breaking, £1.75mn RM UP-01 Ferrari.
The RM-UP-01 is like no other Richard Mille seen before, the majority of which have been sizeable pieces of engineering that have relied on exotic materials to ensure very light weight.
The new Ferrari watch, however, is not only remarkably light (it weighs just 2.8 grammes) but almost inconceivably thin — so thin, in fact, that it now holds the record for the thinnest mechanical watch in existence at just 1.75mm from top to bottom.
That tops established flat watch specialists Piaget and previous record holder Bulgari (the latter by just 0.05 of a mil) while also introducing a completely new method of watchmaking.
Recent ultra-flat watches have utilised the movement baseplate as the back, but the RM UP-01 relies on the more traditional method of assembling the movement within a separate case.
This was achieved by creating a mechanism in which space is saved by eliminating a particular plate and guard pin and developing an ultra-flat escapement with a titanium balance fitted with six minuscule calibration weights.
The watch was designed in this way in order to improve shock resistance — a Richard Mille signature — and the RM UP-01 is said to be capable of standing acceleration forces of up to 5,000G.
To put that into perspective, a fighter pilot in a compression suit might endure a maximum of 9G (but will clearly weigh considerably more than 2.8 grammes . . . )
Due to being so thin, the watch cannot have a conventional winding crown. Instead, it uses dual units that are set flush on top of the watch and surrounded by ceramic collars. The top one is used to select ‘winding’ or ‘setting’ modes, while the lower one carries out the required action.
Perhaps most surprisingly, however the RM UP-01 will not be made in minuscule numbers but in a relatively extensive run (for such a complex watch) of 150 pieces.
The irony is that it would be possible to buy eight or nine examples of Ferrari’s entry-level Roma for the price of just a single one . . .