Richard Mille RM030 Automatic Winding With Declutchable Rotor
In an attempt to hit the ground running, with a what?
An interesting feature of the RM030 found on the dial just beneath the 12 is an On/Off display which indicates whether the winding system is on, or off.
While the indicator is self explanatory, the thinking behind it deserves a closer look.
The “Declutchable Rotor” movement element in this particular RM is that the winding system (rotor) disengages when it reaches full power reserve when worn on the wrist.
This prevents overwinding which can place stress on the mainspring and risk flicking residual lubricant and dirt from the mainspring barrel into the movement, a side-effect of using a standard clutch system which is found in most automatic watches.
In Auto-Winding systems, once the mainspring is fully wound, a clutch creates a slip, which prevents overwinding by allowing the mainspring to slip within the barrel that houses it.
You may have heard or observed when winding an automatic watch that has no discernible “STOP WINDING ME” point, that after a certain number of winds you begin to hear a faint clicking noise, a sound which affectionados learn to identify through experience as the signal that says “stop” as is the sound of the mainspring clutch beginning to slip within the barrel, which indicates that the watch is fully wound.
Essentially, the declutchable rotor is a safety mechanism to prevent over-winding, clutch slipping, and gunk flipping which should result in a cleaner movement and a longer interval between servicing. Handy shandy.
Once the power reserve dips to 40 hours, a clutch engages the rotor once again to begin winding. This ensures that the watch runs at its optimum winding state, permanently, which is actually quite ingenious.
For when you need to wake the watch up, theres a power reserve indicator on the dial by 9, which you can watch rise from 0 to 55 hours when manually winding.
The area in marked in red between 50 and 55 is your fully wound zone designed to let you know when to stop cranking the beast.
Now I’ve explained it’s party trick, on to the rest of the RM030.
Its reasonably sized at 41.7mm diameter and 49.9 in length. Being a standard RM “Tonneau” shape, the rear of the case is curved to hug the wrist which makes it very comfortable to wear.
Its quite chunky at 14.4mm thick, but, for some perspective, that is exactly the same as the Tudor Pelagos, and slimmer than the Sea-Dweller.
The case is a tri-part sandwich style construction which is bolted together using RM’s signature “star” shaped splines and is made from grade 5 titanium.
An interesting feature that I hadn’t really noticed until handling the watch is that “Titanium” is engraved into one of the case flanks on the left hand side of the watch.
Unlike the “BLANCPAIN” style case engravings that are about a subtle as a Sherman tank, it is an unobtrusive nod to the mastered metal.
Richard Mille was the pioneering brand for the the use of titanium in luxury watches.
It took older Swiss brands over a decade to “catch up” to the idea, and for titanium to become a mainstream alternative to steel.
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 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.”
Given that their tag-line is “Racing Machines For The Wrist” you can see how the brand is committed to producing light, strong, shock resistant, and reliable pieces.
It is in Richard Mille’s DNA.
When the brand was thinking through the use of titanium in its movements, they were advised that there would be a massive rejection rate due to difficulties associated with machining the material, particularly given that movement parts are both absolutely tiny and not easily manipulated.
The rejection rate is 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.
As all Mille’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 indicators and arabics printed on it so as not to disrupt any of the view.
This same double sapphire system can be seen on Openworked pieces from brands like Audemars Piguet.
It is an elegant solution to the problem of making a piece legible while still being effectively transparent.
The hands are skeletonised but feature Superluminova filled tips, and lumed hour markers run around the chapter ring to sort legibility in low light conditions.
There’s another sapphire bringing up the rear so we can gawk at the moment which is mounted within the case using rubber shock absorbers for resistance and security.
The RM030 is powered by calibre RMAR1 which delivers a 55 hour power reserve and is based on a Vaucher movement so is exceptionally reliable.
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 or draw the eye which is a level of detail I wouldn’t even have thought of.
The strap is seamlessly fixed to the case using splines, and without the use of protruding lugs. It follows the curve of both the watch and wrist and is vented for additional breathability and comfort.
Its opened and closed via a leaf spring deployant, which can occasionally have a snap similar to that of a turtle but this ensures a safe and secure closure.
There is absolutely no risk of accidental opening despite the fact that the clasp is reliant on springs rather than interlocking metal or flip locks.
The RM030 was first released in 2011.
It is one of the staples of the Richard Mille collection and is still in production today which is testament to its enduring popularity.
It has seen many guises in the form of limited editions featuring coloured ceramics, TPT (Thin Ply Technology) carbon and other materials.
Ed Sheeran is regularly seen wearing his RM030 Americas limited edition which is black carbon with orange accents. Juventus mid-fielder Paul Pogba has the all white ceramic “White Rush” variant, while Lil Wayne prefers his in rose gold.
If the RM030 is right up your alley, give us a call.