If there is one thing Richard Mille is known for – and to be fair there are many things he is known for – it is the ability to induce shock and awe. Admittedly his watches don’t always land with me and this latest one is certainly no exception but you can’t help but admire the bravado and showmanship. I’m sure you’ve already seen it before but in case you haven’t, meet the new Richard Mille ACJ RM 50-02 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph.
The ACJ RM 50-02 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph
It’s no secret that 2015 was a pretty tough year for a lot of luxury watch brands and luxury brands in general for that matter. Some markets which had previously seemed insatiable suddenly became over-saturated and the persistent strength of the Swiss Franc didn’t help matters any either. Sales were down, inventory levels were up and things generally weren’t looking that flash. As we roll on through 2016 not much has changed, with the outlook for the year cautiously pessimistic.
Apparently though – judging by his latest, err, ‘masterpiece’ – no one has told Mr. Mille – or presumably his clients either for that matter – the bad news. I mean you’ve got to have some real confidence (aka giant cojones) to launch a $1m watch in the midst of a luxury downturn.
Created in collaboration with Airbus Corporate Jets – yes, I am as confused by this partnership as you are – the ACJ RM 50-02 makes a very bold statement on the wrist. According to Richard Mille, the watch has taken a number of its design cues directly from ACJ, most noticeably the unusual case complete with ceramic bezel which apparently emulates the shape of the jet’s window. It’s not to my tastes personally but I do applaud Mr. Mille for doing something so different.
The case of the ACJ RM 50-02 itself is made from Titanium-Aluminum alloy (TiAl), which perhaps not surprisingly is the same alloy used by Airbus for its jet turbine blades. After all it wouldn’t be a collaboration without the crossover use of some exotic materials never before seen in the watchmaking industry, right? Either way, I’m sure the stuff is super strong and super light plus I have to admit it does sound pretty cool to say your watch is made from jet blades. Reinforcing this theme is a jet engine inspired crown, complete with an engraved, wave patterned Airbus logo.
Technically the ACJ RM 50-02 offers the level of complexity we have come to expect from high end Richard Mille pieces. As the name suggests it is equipped with both a tourbillon and a split-seconds chronograph, the latter of which perhaps may come in handy for timing how long it takes for your Airbus Jet to reach cruising altitude? Assuming you can actually read it of course. I have to say, even for Richard Mille I find this dial confusing and a challenge to decipher.
As you can see from the photos every part of the movement that can be skeletonized has been, with the bridges and baseplate in grade 5 titanium. It’s fun to look at but what I find a little puzzling is the decision to treat a number of the components with a type of aeronautical coating that is apparently used to protect engine and chassis parts from corrosion and environmental conditions. Sure it sounds cool I guess but it just seems a bit like overkill, especially as I’m not too sure what ‘environmental conditions’ a sealed movement will be exposed to?
Notwithstanding any of the above if the ACJ RM 50-02 seems like your kind of watch, it can be yours for a mere US$1,050,000. Be quick though as only 30 pieces will be made in this limited edition and I will not be surprised if they get snapped up quickly. The world is, after all, a crazy place.
Check out www.richardmille.com for more information.