The Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Split-Seconds Tourbillon Chronograph weighs 40 grams (1.41 ounces), which the watchmaker says makes it the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph ever on the market. Its weight achievement is due to the use of ultra-light and high-strength materials for the case and the movement.
For this timepiece, Richard Mille teamed with McLaren-Honda, one of the best-known builders of racing cars and a company known for its work with ultra-lightweight and high-strength alloys. The watch had its first full public showing at the recently concluded Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).
The bezel and caseback feature Graph TPT, a Carbon TPT material whose physical properties have been improved by the injection of graphene, a nanomaterial six times lighter than steel but 200 times more resistant, according to the watchmaker.
Richard Mille collaborated with The University of Manchester (where graphene was first isolated by Professor Andre Geim in 2004 who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for its discovery), McLaren Applied Technologies and North Thin Ply Technology, to produce a watch case machined with what it calls an improved form of Carbon TPT.
The RM50-03 caliber has a “record-breaking” weight of just seven grams, according to the watch brand, achieved through the combination of high-tech materials and skeletonization. The baseplate and bridges are made of corrosion resistant and rigid grade 5 titanium. Some of the bridges of the split-seconds chronograph are made of Carbon TPT, as is the transverse carriage that supports the caliber with the barrel and tourbillon bridges. Attached to the caseback, this carriage circumvents the need for a casing ring, allowing the movement to be integrated into the case. The company says the caliber, despite its ultra-light-weight, was tested to be resistant to shocks of 5,000 Gs and has a 70-hour power reserve.
The split-seconds mechanism features a new Richard Mille column wheel that now has six columns, as opposed to eight in previous versions. The watch brand says this optimizes simultaneous movement, maximal function locking and greater adjustment durability. The helical spring was replaced by a blade on the split seconds wheel of the RM 50-03.
The pusher at 8 o'clock starts or stops the seconds hand of the chronograph. The pusher at 4 o'clock stops the split seconds hand and allows an intermediary time to be read off while the chronograph is engaged. When this pusher is pressed again, the split-seconds hand catches up with the chronograph hand and simultaneously continues its course. The pusher at 10 o'clock resets the hands.
A torque indicator displays the tension of the mainspring and makes it possible to optimize the winding of the watch. A function indicator displays winding, hand setting or the neutral position—similar to the gearbox on a car—when the watch crown is pulled out. A hand at 4 o'clock displays the selected mode: W (Winding) – N (Neutral) – H (Hand Setting).
Outside of its light weight and new advancements, RM 50-03 retains all of the codes of a Richard Mille watch, including the signature Tourneau-shaped case. In addition to the fabric strap, it is available in a rubber strap injected with graphene.
The watch will be available as early as June in a limited edition of 75 pieces and a price of $980,000.
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