Picture this; it’s a sunny Saturday afternoon and you are suiting up with your friends to play a friendly but intense game of Polo, otherwise known as the Sport of Kings. There’s just one problem, you need a way to keep an eye on the time whilst at the same time still letting those around you know that you could buy and sell them at the drop of a hat. Enter the RM053, possibly one of the most impractical and yet surprisingly most legible pieces to be released by perennial favorite Richard Mille.
Making The Impractical Practical (Sort Of)
Of course the RM053 wasn’t created just so you could continue to overtly display your wealth even when participating in the more rigorous activities of life – although with a price tag of US$580,000 that is kind of hard to avoid – but rather to satisfy another Richard Mille essential. Namely, that the watch appear on the wrist of its ambassador when he or she was undertaking the activity that had made him or her famous in the first place (think Rafael Nadal, and more recently Yohan Blake). In this case that wrist belongs to renowned Argentinean polo player Pablo MacDonough, who signed with the brand back in 2011.
As you can imagine a Polo field can be quite a treacherous place for the sapphire crystal of a watch face, with balls and mallets flying in all directions. Jaeger-LeCoultre came up with an ingenious way to overcome this issue by creating the Reverso collection, simply allowing the wearer to reverse the dial so that the sapphire crystal was protected. Ever the visionary however Richard Mille has chosen a completely different and rather more extreme solution to this age old conundrum.
It’s All In The Case
The result is a rather futuristic looking case, which to be honest is more metal than anything else. Well, ultra-light titanium to be precise, which has then been treated with a super hard titanium carbide coating to make it extra strong. Thinly veiled sarcasm aside though, the mechanics of this unique piece really are quite complex.
For a start the RM engineers needed to ensure that the manually wound tourbillon movement could withstand the shocks from the inevitable impacts of a spirited game of Polo – not to mention those from MacDonough’s own teammates who presumably can’t resist the urge to give him a friendly tap on the wrist every now and then with their mallets just to see if his watch is really as strong as he claims. The case itself plays a large part in this obviously however to increase structural rigidity the movement also boasts a special skeletonized baseplate and bridges made of grade 5 titanium held together with spline screws and engineered so closely together they almost act as one.
On the face of the watch, if you can call it that, two small dials have been set at 30 degrees towards the bottom of the case. The one on the right one indicates the hour and minute whilst the one on the left keeps track of the seconds via a 60-second tourbillon. That’s right, a tourbillon. Were you really expecting any less from the master himself? As a final touch the sapphire crystals have been recessed into the dial cutouts, thus protecting them completely from any stray balls or mallets, whilst still allowing for full visibility of the time indications.
Ironically enough, whilst this is likely to be one of the smallest time displays you’ll come across on a Richard Mille timepiece, thanks to its relative simplicity, it’s also likely to be one of the most legible.
As I mentioned before RRP for the RM053 is a healthy US$580,000 and the series will be limited to just 15 pieces, all on rubber straps.
The Final Word
You can’t help but respect the fact that Richard Mille has made it his mission to get a tourbillon on the wrist of every high-profile sport star in the world, not least because each piece must be able to be worn whilst said sport star is doing what they do best. By my reckoning we’re just about due for a water going tourbillon but who will be the one to wear it now that Michael Phelps has retired?
For information please visit the official Richard Mille website: www.richardmille.com
Category: Wow Watch Wednesday