As a watch writer it is important to stay objective and feature as broad a range of timepieces as possible. Personally I gravitate towards more contemporary design and love the use of experimental materials. Recently I have featured watches by MB & F, Urwerk , Cabestan and Rebellion. These timepieces might not appeal to everyones tastes due to their large case sizes and futuristic façades. Nevertheless they are bold , distinctive and utterly captivating to look at.
One brand that seems to have had an enormous commercial success with their Avant-Garde styled watches is Richard Mille. Their marketing strategy has involved producing timepieces for very high profile sportsmen. A few months ago I wrote an article about the phenomenal RM 27-01, which was developed for the irrepressible Rafael Nadal. What makes this watch so special is the high performance materials used in production. Incredibly the timepiece weighs only 19 grams and is designed specifically to withstand the physicality of Rafa’s game. With a price tag of nearly a million dollars it also is the most expensive watch (to date) worn by a tennis player on court.
In January Richard Mille unveiled a few new timepieces at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Although all the models display an exceptional array of features my personal favourite was the sensational RM 36-01 Sebastien Loeb. This watch has a generous case size of 47.70 x 17.37 mm, which is designed to make a bold statement. Ultimately these masculine proportions are characteristic of the brand and should appeal to serious collectors. I also suspect the timepiece would feel lightweight and sit comfortably on the wrist. Primarily this is down to choice of cutting edge materials used in production. The timepiece is composed from titanium, ceramic and polymer injected with carbon nanotubes.
Visually the RM 36-01 Sebastien Loeb has a highly original and enticing appearance. In my opinion this superb timepiece is a perfect tribute to the most successful rally driver of all time. The open worked architectural dial is a revelation and exposes the intricate mechanical aspect of the watch. Clearly racing cars have inspired the design and that is evident in a lot of the details. Elements like the central pusher (which allows the recipient to set the time quickly) are mind blowing. Other striking features include bespoke hour/minute hands, tourbillon, retrograde power reserve indicator and dual layered brown ceramic bezel. Overall the three-dimensional composition is highly accomplished and the level of finishing is first class.
To power the watch Richard Mille has devised the sophisticated Caliber RM36-01. This mechanical hand winding movement comprises 37-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. Each of the components including the titanium bridges and baseplates has been meticulously polished by hand. Functionally the RM 36-01 Sebastien Loeb features hours, minutes and has a power reserve of 70 hours. The watch also has a rotary G-sensor (composed of 50 parts), which records the amount of G’ s amassed (via the bezel) under different driving conditions.
The RM 36-01 Sebastien Loeb is limited to only 30 pieces and is equipped with a sporty rubber strap.