The RM011 FM - First launched in 2007, this is one of Mille’s most iconic pieces. For lovers of the brand, it is instantly recognisable, much like the Submariner or the Speedmaster.
The FM element of the title stands for Felipe Massa. Brazilian racing driver who started every Grand Prix with a Mille on his wrist since 2004.
He is an 11 time Grand Prix winner and Richard Mille’s longest partner who has been responsible for test driving a number of their horological innovations. It is safe to say that in the watch world, Mille and Massa are synonymous.
Today though, we’re having a look at not only Richard Mille and Felipe Massa, but Richard Mille and Marcus Marguiles as with this piece, we have a confluence of influences.
This is the time where I have to throw my hands up and say that although I know a fair bit about watches, I made a very grave mistake, and one that retrospectively gives me the cringe. What an amateur.
Double signed watches are not a new thing, in fact they have enjoyed a resurgence of late thanks to the Patek Philippe “Tiffany” Nautilus, an under the radar release with a turquoise dial that nobody really noticed let alone talked about. Clearly, I jest.
Trusted retailers teaming with brands is a practice that gained popularity in the mid twentieth century. Tiffany isn’t the only brand who has partnered with high end watchmakers and notably sold their wares, there has also been Beyer, Asprey, Bucherer and Serpico Y Laino to name but a few.
We’ve all heard of Tiffany Rolex and Pateks, as well as Bucherer and Harrods Tudors and Audemars Piguet Bucherer editions.
So, on to my mistake, which was to assume that the RM011 FM “Marcus” limited edition was Richard Mille producing a watch for a retailer that I hadn’t heard of, and thinking that it was probably a store in the USA similar to Tiffany or Bloomingdales.
Although Marcus Marguiles is a retailer, he is so much more than that.
His father, Alexander Marguiles came to the UK from Poland in 1931 and created ELCO watch company, which imported, sold, and repaired Swiss watches. By 1939 they became the biggest distributor in the UK.
During World War 2 ELCO switched their attention from watches to manufacturing cockpit instruments for Spitfires and anti aircraft guns to help the war effort.
Marcus, the eldest of Alexanders children was born in Bletchley, home of the codebreakers, in 1942.
Post War, ELCO expanded its distribution to include Russian Mechanical watches and changed its name to “Time Products”.
In 1963, Marcus Marguiles joined his fathers company and not being one for sitting still, decided to invent a brand in 1966.
That brand was “Sekonda” which he created by rebadging the Russian watches that Time Products were already distributing and marketing them with the catchphrase “Beware Of Expensive Imitations”
Given that Sekonda is still a household name to this day, it was, and still is, a roaring success.
In the 1970s, Time Products helped the venerable Audemars Piguet nail its North American, European and Swiss distribution, forming a relationship that was to become lifelong.
Marcus became chairman of Time Products in 1977.
In the 80s they took over global distribution of some of the heavy hitting Swiss brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Blancpain, Girard Perregaux, Breguet and Piaget and grew the brands long before they were bought out by luxury conglomerates like LVMH and Richemont.
In 1991 Alexander passed away and Marcus held the keys to the empire.
In 2000 he took over the distribution of Hublot, and in doing so, became a close friend of Jean Claude Biver, who said of him:
“The mistake many people make about Marcus, is that they treat him like a normal person.”
Biver was right, Marcus was at the ground floor of mechanical and luxury watches before they became hot, he is the man who sold his Audemars Piguet collection BACK TO AP for their museum in Le Brassus.
How legend is that?
He was “Marcus” of Bond Street, a glass palace of ultra luxury timepieces which was, and still is considered the most important collection of watches in the world although it now resides in Mayfair since the Bond Street store closed in 2017.
From Sekonda to the creme de la creme of haute horology Marcus is “The DON” of watches.
Given his status, it therefore comes as no surprise that Richard Mille created a RM011 limited edition for “Marcus” and said of him -
“When we first met, I showed him my RM001 tourbillon and he just sat there for about two minutes, totally silent. ‘It is a fantastic piece and I love it!’ he said finally. Since then our partnership has been very successful. I have always found Marcus to be a great person with passion for what he does, totally professional and above all, a friend. I love working with him!”
Hearing that, I’m not sure which of the two parties gets the win, Richard Mille for being declared fantastic by Marcus, or Marcus being showered with limited editions by Richard Mille.
Its a bit of a 5050 split on the winning front but this leads me right into saying that the RM011 Marcus limited edition is a real winner on the wrist, so lets get to it.
45mm case, 49mm lug to lug and 16mm tall this is a chunky monkey but the tonneau shape with curved rear ensures that it sits really well on the wrist while the grade 5 titanium case makes it light and comfortable.
This is one of those watches that sounds like a beast on paper, but in reality can be worn by those with slimmer wrists without looking out of place.
This is largely down to the compact length, lack of protruding lugs and the rubber strap arcing down and hugging the wrist. Ergonomically, its brilliant.
Its worth remembering that it is length rather than width that dictates whether a watch will sit nicely on the wrist or overhang and leave you looking like you haven’t quite grown into it yet.
We don’t want that, and its safe to say you wont get it on this piece.
The case follows “typical” RM sandwich architecture. Simplified, it consists of of top plate, middle case and backplate bolted together with the brands trademark 5 point spline screws.
These have have become a feature of the design (as per AP’s Royal Oak) as you can see all 12 of them adorning the front of the watch but if you switch to the side profile, you can also see the sleeves pronounced on the side of the case which is much more pleasing to the eye than a smooth slab side, particularly on a watch of this depth. Don’t be fooled though, this is not a simple three part case. Its incredibly well engineered, hand finished and assembled.
Richard Mille case-work is an exercise in absolute precision, and it shows.
The crown and pushers follow a Formula One (Massa) inspired theme with the crown mimicking a tyre (rubber on the outside, spokes in the inside) and the chronograph pushers styled to look like break and gas pedals
The dial of the RM011 is where the engineering really shines.
It is superbly skeletonised, as is typical of Richard Mille and features a double sapphire face. One protecting the watch overall and another much thinner slice siting above the open-worked movement and printed with arabic numerals, chronograph registers, model and date frame.
There is a third plate of sapphire to the rear of the watch which gives you the full three dimensional view of the suspended movement, and what a spectacle that is.
Powering the watch is RM’s calibre RMAC1 which is a 60 jewel automatic movement with 50 hour power reserve, variable geometry rotor, flyback chronograph, annual calendar and oversized date.
So what is it that makes this particular RM011 a “Marcus” Limited Edition?
In short, red is the Marcus colour, so the hands, numerals, and accents are all a homage to the man himself, along with the DLC coated titanium case which darkens the watch down to make the contrast really striking.
It really is an absolute hybrid of Richard Mille, Felipe Massa, and Marcus Marguiles and as such, it is a very rare beast indeed.
There are only 12 in existence.
I love it, but, if I had my way, I would change the strap to black and leave the hands and dial print to do the work against a darker backdrop, but, thats just me and I prefer to be under the radar than sitting on top of it with a tambourine although in fairness, I can see the temptation to flaunt this if you’ve got it.
If you want this gorgeous lump of multiple icons on your wrist, you know who to call.