Left: RM 74-01; Right: RM 74-02. Image: Richard Mille
Richard Mille‘s journey begins when watches go beyond mere timekeeping. The RM 74-01 and RM 74-02 automatic tourbillons demonstrate the independent watchmaker’s ambitious and audacious stance once more. The tonneau cases’ bold lines and the preening mechanical movements within leave no doubt about their pedigree.
To begin with, the RM 74-01 measures 52.63 x 34.40 x 13.05mm, and that is only the beginning of what makes it unmistakable. The case and dial are made of grey cermet, which is a trade name for a metal and ceramic combination. Cermet is a lot of fun for writers like us because autocorrect comes up with all kinds of permutations for it, but we digress. Grey cermet, in particular for the RM 74-01, refers to a unique material experiment in titanium and ceramic, which is unique in the wide and crazy world of watchmaking to Richard Mille. That’s the kind of watchmaker Richard Mille is, and we haven’t even gotten into the extravagant watchmaking that is the CRMT 6 calibre.
Image: Richard Mille
The CRMT 6 calibre shares some characteristics with the CRMT5 calibre, which powers the RM 74-02, so we’ll look at both of them together. To summarize the RM 74-02, it has the same dimensions as the RM 74-01, but the two watches may wear quite differently depending on the straps. When you consider the weight of the watches, this makes perfect sense. RM 74-02 is also housed in a novel and exclusive material, this time a carbon TPT and 24k gold leaf composite. That is what gives this watch its distinctive lines on the front and back; the case middle is red gold.
The CRMT5 movement is designed to match the aesthetics of the RM74-02 case, with a yellow and red gold baseplate and bridges. The CRMT6 movement, on the other hand, has a PVD and electroplasma-treated grade 5 titanium baseplate and bridges. Both are ultra-skeletonised, possibly a reference to the Ultra designation used by the British military in World War II for code-breaking, with a lively tourbillon at the 6 o’clock position making the heart race. Richard Mille codes abound in these movements, including specialized gear tooth profiles and an extraordinary variable geometry automatic rotor.
Image: Richard Mille
The collector’s keen eye will be rewarded by numerous hand-finishing touches in the movements, which contrast sharply with the high-tech watchmaking techniques of the twenty-first century. The RM74-01 and RM74-02 are stunning studies in over-engineered watchmaking excellence that pay homage to the centuries of tradition that brought them to our wrists. Richard Mille watches are as rare as they are beautiful, so don’t expect them to be available right away.