Richard Mille caught us a little off-guard last week with the unveiling of the new RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat. We had heard murmurings of course that there was an extra flat watch coming from the uber luxury watchmaker but to be honest we didn’t expect it to be so, well, flat. At first blush though it seems like Mr. Mille has another hit on his hands although we’ll have to wait until SIHH next year when the watch is officially launched.
The RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat
When most people think of Richard Mille timepieces two synonyms invariably come to mind first; expensive and chunky (or some variation thereof). The brand is not exactly known for its svelte timepieces that slide discreetly under the cuff, rather it makes distinctive, generally tonneau-shaped watches that make their presence felt on the wrist. Arguably this is one of the reasons why Richard Mille has become so popular with the noveau riche, after all; if you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?
Surprisingly though, it seems not every Richard Mille fan wants to broadcast their love for the brand (or their financial good fortune – a pre-requisite for owning a RM) to the world at large, which is where the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat comes in.
At 38.7mm x 47.52mm x 7.75mm the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat can legitimately call itself ‘thin’, although with those dimensions it still won’t exactly be a shrinking violet on the wrist. Ironically though, although there’s less watch overall, it actually required a heck of a lot of work to make it a reality. This is after all the first time that Richard Mille’s trademark tonneau shape has been created in an extra flat form and so they really had to go back to the drawing board on this one.
The most obvious starting point of course is the movement. Designed in-house at Richard Mille, the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat is powered by the new automatic calibre CRMA6, which measures just 3.6mm thick. The baseplate and bridges are made from grade 5 titanium and finished with a combination of gray and black electroplasma treatment, with the winding rotor weight in platinum.
As you can see from the photos the movement has been heavily skeletonized on both the front and the back. According to Richard Mille part of the reason for this is to give the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat a sense of depth, no mean feat to achieve with an extra flat watch. For example the dial’s construction is meant to carry the eye from the edges of the bezel in three layers to the central area’s hour and minute hands, whilst the rear of the movement features a large open worked winding barrel, rotor, going train and automatic winding mechanism bridges, all visible through the sapphire case back.
Back on the dial side the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat displays the time and date only, in a relatively easy to read format that utilises the over-sized Arabic numeral popular on Richard Mille timepieces. You will also notice between 1 and 2 o’clock that there is a function indicator for Winding, Date and Hand setting. When you pull the crown out the indicator moves, so you can quickly see which setting your own and make adjustments as necessary.
The other critical component in a thin watch is of course the case and according to Richard Mille all the stops have been pulled out to get the grade 5 titanium case of the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat just right. The tonneau-shaped case is already known to be quite complex to construct, however the brand says that the refined dimensions of the new case require even more time than other similar cases in the collection, adding up to almost 6 hours of pure machining time, not to mention weeks of the preparatory work required. It’s not surprising then to learn that each case is the result of more than 215 separate machining operations and that doesn’t even take into account the hand-brushing and polishing required to get a finished product.
Although this is not the first time we’ve seen a slimmer case from Richard Mille – the round-case RM 033 Extra Flat paved the way – the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat is definitely a marked departure from the more bulky offerings we’re used to seeing from the brand and so it will be interesting to see how popular this new watch proves to be with Richard Mille’s traditionally masculine crowd. My guess is it’s going to be another sell-out success.
Check out www.richardmille.com for more.