What a fine pair!
Richard Mille released the RM72-01 in 2020, hot on the heels of the discontinuation of one of their signature lines, the RM011. Clearly, if they were bringing a substitution in against one of the legends, it had to be good. And it is.
The real fanfare of these pieces, other than being perfectly sized and beautifully formed, is that they are the first RM’s to be treated to an entirely “in house” movement.
It might be a bit shocking for such an astronomical brand have relied on external movements for so long, but indeed they have.
The RM011 was powered by a Vaucher calibre with an attached Dubois Depraz module.
Vaucher have a long history of making excellent movements, and the DD module is used liberally throughout watchmaking as a “bolt-on” capable of turning any movement into a chronograph.
There is absolutely nothing to turn your nose up about either, but for some, high end manufacture and in house movements go hand in glove. Given that Richard Mille is already a brand that attracts detractors, it was about time that they pulled the calibre CRMC1 out of the hat, and it is an belter of a movement which can be viewed front and back through the skeleton dial and sapphire caseback.
Its a 39 jewel and 428 component flyback column wheel chronograph that uses oscillating pinions to connect the chrono to the gear train which in less than technical terms means that you can run the chronograph all day long should you desire, and it wont affect power reserve or timekeeping. The design and development of the new calibre took 30 months of full time work by the team behind it and the calibre is built around grade 5 titanium baseplate and bridges.
While the heart of the beast is now up there where it should be, lets get into the aesthetics.
Clearly, Official being Official, we aren’t visiting these models in their initial release titanium or rose, we’re going ceramic and white gold diamond.
Now, in order to be into watches, you’ve got to be a bit of a nerd. You can be a cool nerd, or you can be a doesn’t get out much nerd. Either way, you’ll probably have have a bit of Star Wars blood in you and if you’re anything like me, a Darth Vader and Stormtrooper comparison may not be as far off the cards as it should be.
Quick stats on these and a bit of a grizzle.
The RM72-01 case is 38.4mm wide, 47mm length and 11.6mm tall.
It is compact, and superbly proportioned. Dare I say, even subtle for a Mille. Because of its stature, it was billed with great fanfare on release as being a unisex piece. It is, and much as I don’t want to appear radical, my opinion is that the categories of men and women's watches are a little past their sell-by date.
If a watch fits the wrist and is comfortable, get it on and stop worrying about sex. Or at least continue to worry about it but not in relation to watches.
Thats my first grizzle, but my second is probably more to the point - 30m WR.
I think its reasonable to add a little negative opinion into what is otherwise overwhelmingly positive about these pieces, and I have to say that in the modern world, 30m which equates to splash proof doesn’t really cut it for me. There’s a lot to be said for the additional reassurance of RM’s standard 50m resistance and I fail to see why the 72-01 line doesn’t offer the same. You may not want to swim in it, but you don’t want to clench when giving it a clean either.
The 3 part cases on these are identical in every way bar the choice of material and decoration, the tachymeter frames see some variation with one being black and the other white, but both use rose gold surrounds and hands for contrast.
The TZP model is a sleek matte black tour de force with rose gold mid case, hands and numerals with a matching black strap. I have to confess that its my favourite variant as I really love the way that the warm rose accents and dial colours contrast against a black framework.
There’s also the obvious benefit of ceramic being infinitely more scratch resistant than its metal counterparts. Suits me as I have a very intimate relationship with door frames. Its almost a little bit stealth, or at least it would be if the rose gold was replaced with something a little more under the radar, but that would kind of defeat the point of wearing a Richard Mille.
The white gold and brilliant cut diamond variant is a far more extravagant looking beast. Gemstones aside, which is virtually impossible when looking at it, the white gold and white strap combination has a fresh feel to it which the slightly more menacing black ceramic lacks. In an ideal world I’d have both, summer and winter, sorted.
RM offers this model with a choice of three diamond styles:
“Snow set” which is uses randomly sized and placed stones placed closely together which gives an overall effect of the watch being dipped in snow.
“Baguette”, which is completely baller, as baguettes tend to be, but due to the larger stones and fewer planes, it lacks the glittering light play of the full brilliant cut diamond model which is what we have in hand today.
"Brilliant" diamonds are a conical shape with a large top table and cut with many facets and planes, all designed to reflect the optimum amount of light which is the core principle of diamond use.
One of the reasons that I quite openly love diamond set RM’s is the contrast between peak watchmaking technology and stones which have been sitting under our world developing for between one and three billion years. If we take the average timespan of that process, they’ve been gradually forming for over half our planets lifetime before ending up adorning one of horology’s most modern powerhouses. Like it or not, its a mindblowingly cool concept.
The dials on these are absolutely glorious, although may prove to be upsetting for those who prefer symmetry on their watches or the 3,6,9 sub-dial layout.
The RM72-01 has neither, it is a completely asymmetrical chronograph and has the following sub-dial layout: Minute counter at 1, Hours at 5, and Seconds at 9.
There is also a function indicator at 3 which displays winding, neutral and hand setting points when the crown is pulled out and a vertical date at 7.
The skeletonisation is typically and exceptionally well executed. It has an almost organic look to it thanks to the positioning of the sub-dials and use of curved arcs and lines to pull everything together. It’s one of my favourite RM dials if i’m honest, perhaps with the suspended movement of the RM055 Bubba coming a close second in my very amateur rankings.
Regardless of your choice of material, the RM72-01 is a pretty perfect “mid range” option from Richard Mille, not that there even is such a thing.
It carries the technological complexity and finishing that has become one of the hallmarks of the brand while losing the oversized “in your face” element that RM have also been associated with.
More to the point, it’s a watch that has an chameleon-like quality as the material you choose, whether that be titanium, rose, ceramic, or gold/diamond radically changes the appearance of the watch meaning that there genuinely is one to suit every style ranging from sport, to stealth, to opulence on the proviso that Richard Mille is to your taste in the first place.
Detractors of the brand will regularly say that RM is too large, too showy, too new, too expensive, too gauche and everything else negative under the sun, but I guess, much like sexed watches, these complaints have also seen their heyday, so perhaps its time to move on and embrace the idea that not only can RM do big and showy, they are also mastering the art of sensibly sized and utterly refined.