I think we can all agree that watch manufacturer Richard Mille have produced their fair share of unusual looking watches over the course of their short lifetime. In fact they’ve built an entire business model around the practice. This time however they have gone too far – well, in my opinion at least – unveiling what I think is possibly the brand’s most unattractive piece ever at the SIHH a few weeks ago.
The Beast and the…Beast?
I am of course referring to the RM59-01 Yohan ‘the Beast’ Blake Tourbillon, a distinctive timepiece created in homage to Mille’s newest ambassador, Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, also known affectionately as ‘The Beast’ (just watch him run and you’ll quickly see why).
This is not the first time Mille’s relationship with Blake has courted controversy. The brand signed the young sprinter as an ‘unofficial’ ambassador during the 2012 Olympics, sparking all sorts of outcry when Blake lined up at the blocks wearing a rather brightly colored RM prototype in spite of the fact that competition rules strictly forbid any non-sanctioned endorsement of a sponsor. Fortunately both the brand and Blake escaped without any real penalty and now the duo are attracting attention for a whole new reason.
Limited to just 50 pieces, the RM 059-01 YB has been designed with Blake’s primary activity in mind; running, at extremely fast speeds. Therefore, like all athlete-associated RM timepieces, it has been constructed from super light-weight materials. The 50.24mm x 42.7mm case is made of a translucent composite that has been injected with carbon nanotubes, hence the distinctive yellow ‘fleck’.
What stands out possibly even more though is the high-tech bridges streaking across the dial, machined from an alloy of aluminum, magnesium, silicon and lead. Some have likened them to claw marks, whilst others suggest they are simply indicative of speed. Whatever the rationale, they are certainly not pretty.
Each piece will retail for a whopping US$620,000 however the level of demand remains to be seen.
The Final Word
As much as I find this timepiece aesthetically distasteful I do believe it has captured Blake’s sense of youthful exuberance and athletic prowess. He is the upstart, the unknown element and this timepiece really reflects that. Plus it is a great talking piece for Richard Mille, once again creating buzz for a brand that has taken the extreme and turned it into an art form.
That being said, I would definitely be curious to hear what others think about it?