Richard Mille RM010 Titanium Red Strap
Our watch of choice to wear for Watches And Wonders 2023.
Perhaps a bit of an odd choice given that both RM and AP withdrew from the show in 2020, but, unlike the Swatch Group removing itself from Baselworld, the split was entirely amicable and pretty easily explained.
Those who keep an eye on the watch world may have noticed that both Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet have moved to a different business model of late.
They’re doing away with third party retail partners and moving towards the Boutique slash mono-brand model of selling their pieces directly to consumers.
With that in mind, the need to attend a trade show designed to showcase new releases to potential trade buyers is minimised as stock will be moved through manufacture owned boutiques instead.
It would probably be more politic, shall we say, to wear something from an exhibiting brand, but I love the RM010 and as much as W&W is about showcasing releases from other brands, I felt like I wanted to bring something I really enjoy wearing to see the show. A little like going to an event with your best mate.
Plus, being titanium, I knew it wasn't going to slow me down when I raise a few glasses later on ;-)
This brings me to a rather interesting point, or at least, interesting if you’re a watch fan, if you you don’t have “the love” then its going to be about as dull as dishwater but I’m going to assume that because you’re here, you’re into it.
Richard Mille was the pioneering brand for the the use of titanium in luxury watches.
Citizen and Seiko had already visited the the use of titanium cases a good 20 years beforehand but it really wasn’t seeing the light of day in Switzerland until RM blew onto the scene using this rarely seen material for both the creation of their ultra-light cases AND movement components.
Mille himself said “The manufacturing process for titanium is expensive. This is why my titanium cases are almost the same price as gold.
My interest in titanium was not just its use as a casing for watches. I was the first to make a titanium baseplate for the watch. And this was so costly, so time-consuming, and a headache, but I did it because the material benefits such as shock-resistance are substantial, and I will not make any compromises in my watches.”
When RM were thinking through the use of titanium in their movements, they were advised that there would be a massive rejection rate due to difficulties associated with machining the material.
A rejection rate of 45% to be exact, but RM being RM, his refusal to compromise on the technical prowess of the brands pieces meant that he went above and beyond the norm yet again and in conjunction with Vaucher, began to conceptualise titanium as a base plate and movement material.
If we think that right now, 22 years after the first titanium RM, W&W is absolutely buzzing because Rolex have released a titanium Yacht-Master for 2023, hot on the heels of the equally Ti Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge. With that in mind, you really can start to appreciate just how much of a front-runner Richard Mille has been, not just for their own developments in materials and movements, but as an ideas man that the rest of the industry took its sweet time following.
Tudor Pelagos 2012,
AP Royal Oak Offshore 2017,
Rolex Deepsea Challenge 2022.
RM using titanium for the RM001 - 2001.
So, on to my titanium beauty. The RM010 currently adorning my wrist is from 2009, so was produced during RM’s first decade. You can see just how tough this grade 5 titanium is by the condition that this watch is in some 14 years later. Its pretty immaculate.
Size-wise its perfect for my wrists, which are small but mighty.
Its a 39mm diameter and 48mm lug to lug and you can see that it curves its way snugly around my wrist thanks to the ergonomic tonneau shape which has become a signature of the brand. The case is machined from titanium and then fully hand finished so you can see the graining of the case and polished bevels which are typically spot on for a high end piece.
The strap attaches inside a notched area of the case by two splines which make it arc all the way round without any lugs or straight ends to disrupt the flow. Its a touch that really does make this a super comfortable watch to wear. It becomes unnoticeable on the wrist after a few minutes which is always a good sign.
As all RM’s are skeletonised, they use a double sapphire on the front.
One thick to protect the watch as per usual but another wafer-thin slice sits beneath and has all the markers and date-frame printed on it so as not to disrupt any of the view.
There’s another sapphire making up part of the rear caseback so we can gawk at the moment which I’ll get to in a second.
The date wheel is also skeletonised as well, and you can see its numerals surrounding the main body of the movement.
If you happen to be looking at around midnight its very satisfying watching the wheel click round as the next date slots itself into place within its frame. Not that I need to get out more.
This uses the calibre RMAS7 which is based on a Vaucher movement as the RM010 was conceived before RM made moves to create their own in house calibres.
It’s been heavily modified to make its baseplate and components out of titanium and the movement is delivered in shades of grey, even the sapphires used are transparent so that the usual ruby colour doesn’t detract from the monochromatic theme.
Pretty much thought of everything with that tidy move!
You can tell that the movement is Vaucher because if you flip over to the rear, on the bottom left of the baseplate just in the corner you can see the Vaucher star logo which indicates their hand in the proceedings.
Richard Mille succeeds as a brand because its always been a collaboration between some of the big behind the scenes names in manufacture working to realise the ideas of the man himself.
They started out working with Renaud Et Papi (complication movement makers of Audemars Piguet fame) who took care of their tourbillons and rattrapantes while the highly respected Vaucher SA supplied and modified the movements powering the RM005 / RM010 and 11 etc.
Montres Valgine who have been operating since 1900 are responsible for the case machining. So all in all, when you’re wearing a piece of the early RM, you’re also wearing the result of some of the greatest watchmakers across the board working together to create something completely new which I think is really REALLY cool.