AET Remould Richard Mille Sapphire Tourbillon “U003” RM003

AET Remould Richard Mille RM003 Tourbillon Dual Time Zone Abu Dhabi Piece Unique

As well as being an absolute mouthful, this is a killer blend of tech. 

AET (short for Artistic Expression and Thought) are one of the hottest custom companies on the planet at the moment. 

Based in Germany, they create art pieces out of watches using sapphire and ceramics. 

This is a piece unique sapphire RM003, so it’s a little odd to have “in hand” the only one in the world. 

The watch has a subtle white and turquoise colour scheme visible on the rehaut which is a nod to the famous Abu Dhabi race track. RM and motorsport go hand in glove so this is a particularly fitting minute track tribute.

AET’s precision milled cut and polished sapphire has been wrapped around Richard Mille’s RM003 Tourbillon movement. The RM003 is a very close sibling of the RM002, but with the addition of a dual time zone feature and a slight increase in size. 

Interestingly, it is the RM002 and 003 that launched the brand into the stratosphere when they were released in 2002 as they were so far advanced, far beyond anything that watchmaking was producing at the turn of the century. As such, they are known as the OG Mille’s, along with the 001 which kicked off the whole shebang in the previous year (2001) 

Add in a layer of infinitely modern design with AET’s full sapphire case and It’s a sandwich that watch nerds would kill for. 

The movement which is a manual winding tourbillon with 70 hour power reserve suspended on a grade 5 titanium baseplate. Mounted to that sits the rest of the movement which was made by Renaud & Papi and incorporates RM’s signature skeletonisation, a dual time feature, and the piece de resistance, a tourbillon known as a minute tourbillon as it completes one rotation on its axis every 60 seconds. 

Because this is a tourbillon movement, the dial also includes separate power reserve and torque indicators which lets the wearer know when to wind, how the mainspring tension is doing, and by default, how accurately the movement is going to be running.

The indicators combined provide optimum power and torque for precision timekeeping. 

As the RM ethos is “Racing Machines for The Wrist” the layout of the dial deliberately resembles the dashboard of a vehicle. 

The dual timezone or GMT function is taken care of by a 12 hour numbered sapphire disk set around the hands/pinion at the centre of the dial. Pressing the button on the left hand side of the watch advances the hours in order to display a second time zone. Its both a useful and unobtrusive complication which gets the job done with minimal fuss.

On the lower right side of the dial is a functions indicator. The crown is press in button type rather than the standard pull out. 

This is a bit of a RM speciality and as you push it in you can see the hands on the functions indicator located at 4 jump between:

H - Hands - for time setting 

N - Neutral - its normal operating position 

W - Winding - does what it says on the tin

Once the watch has been wound and set, you press the crown button so that the indicator rests in the Neutral position while the watch is running. 

Although the dial is complex and full of information, it’s easily readable at a glance which is exactly as it should be. 

The hands have a hollow centre with luminova filled tips - a sweet touch that enables you to read the second timezone without any obstruction. 

AETs sapphire modification gives the wearer a complete 360 degree view of the inner workings of this spectacular calibre so you can peer at the thing for days without paying much attention to the time - I’m sure we’ve all been caught gazing at our watches without knowing if its New York or New Year at some point. 

The watch is also, dare I say, sensibly sized at 39mm and sits exceptionally comfortably on the wrist thanks to its tonneau shape. Its a watch sized to suit anyone, which is not a phrase that can often be attributed to Richard Mille’s as they tend to wear on the larger side. 

The case on this is just mind blowing, and bear in mind that an all factory sapphire RM can run into the millions of dollars as the material is so difficult to machine.

Jay-Z owns two sapphire clad RM’s, a blue RM056 and a green RM56-01 which were customised into their casings by Brooklyn based A-list jeweller Alex Todd. These are estimated at 2.5 and 3 million dollars each, which puts AET into some perspective. 

Sapphire is one of the hardest materials on earth with a mohs grade of 9.

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness runs from 1-10 and measures scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder metal to scratch softer material, in short, save going at it with a diamond, sapphire is scratch proof. 

As with everything though, there’s a trade off. 

Sapphire is hard to scratch, but its also easier to crack than more pliable materials, so the production process for sapphire can be fraught with some bum twitching anxiety as one slip in the cutting and polishing phase can crack it and take you right back to square one. 

Ordinarily sapphire cutting has a 30% yield rate, which means that 70% ends in the bin. 

Add to that the fact that these cases are tonneau shaped and polished to a mirror like finish, and to cut a long story short - its a process that requires precision engineering and a whole lot of skill. 

Fortunately AET are masters of the sapphire craft and have achieved tolerances of 0.03mm which is higher than the industry standard and once their pieces have been cut, drilled, polished and crafted, you end up with a visually spectacular case thats hard as nails having survived the cut, so to speak. 

Although relatively new on the scene, AET Remould have already picked up a few celebrity followers like Javier Hernandez from LA Galaxy, The Crown Prince of Johor, and Rick Ross.