RM035 Ultimate Edition Review
Kicking things off with my favourite game - How much does the RM035 Ultimate Edition actually weigh?
It’s equivalent to -
1 Golf ball
2 AA Batteries
2 mice, of the cheese variety
3 Bic Biro’s
3 Empty Coke cans
Or a pair of Apple Ear-pods and their charging case.
In short, pretty darned light at a hair over 45 grams including the strap.
It is a descendant of the featherweight RM027 Nadal tourbillon that we have discussed before but in this case, the RM035 shakes off the tourbillon complication in favour of a time only movement while retaining the same dimensions and durability, and a less staggering price-tag.
Released in 2017 and a regular sight the slopes, the RM035 Ultimate Edition, which is limited to 35 watches worldwide, is frequently worn by world champion skier and brand ambassador Alexis Pinturault who collaborated on the piece.
It was launched in the same year that Alexis won his 19th world cup which made him the most successful alpine skier of all time so a pair of Ultimates seems pretty fitting!
Richard Mille named this RM035 the Ultimate Edition as they felt that it was exactly as stated on the tin - the ultimate iteration of the RM035 which had seen some evolutions since it was first launched in 2011.
Unsurprisingly given the brands love of testing their watches to the far limits, Pinturault has been working with and wearing Richard Mille since 2014, and in 2018 collaborated with them again for the release of his namesake the RM67-02.
During an interview with QP magazine on his partnership with Richard Mille, he explained that he wears all of his RM’s while competing, and that the point of the partnership is to quite literally test the watches to destruction if necessary in order for RM to work out where the vulnerabilities lie when crashing or slamming the watch onto gates at speeds of approximately 70 kilometres per hour.
Fortunately, there has been no destruction as yet but A.P did note that he damaged the mechanism on his previous RM035 during a high speed crash.
The original RM035 was a Nadal model and cased in a Magnesium-Aluminum alloy with a cristalline oxide ceramic coating, so in short, it was tough and matte black.
That said, any alloy will show signs of damage if put under stress and duress, whether thats scratches or the occasional dink and ding. So while it was ideal for warp speed tennis a la Rafael Nadal, it was potentially less suited to being wanged against gate posts / trees while careering down a ski slope.
Side note, Richard Mille himself introduced the RM001 tourbillon (the first RM) to the assembled executives, distributors and retailers at Baselworld 2001 by removing it from his wrist and lobbing it to the other side of the room to prove its shock resistance, so it isn’t just ambassadors who like to throw the watches around, it is the man himself.
This RM035 is made from NTPT Carbon, NTPT being the acronym for North Thin Ply Technology, the name of the Swiss company who patented it)
It is extremely high tech, and although carbon has been used in watchmaking before, NTPT had not, it was premiered as a case material by Richard Mille.
NTPT was initially developed for the racing sails of yachts and was quickly picked up by aeronautic industries and formula one.
Instead of having a traditional carbon fibre “weave” pattern, it looks very similar to the striations seen on Damascus steel and is created by weaving carbon filaments into resin, with each layer being applied at 45 degree angles to the previous, which creates both the easily identifiable grained pattern, and the durability to survive high speed sports crashes without a mark. It is also exceptionally lightweight, which makes it an ideal material for use on the Ultimate Edition.
The watch is moderately sized with dimensions of 39.7mm by 48mm with a height of 12.25mm.
This is due to necessity, as the broader and taller the case, the larger the target area for collision and damage in extreme sports.
Keeping it small keeps it safe.
It is interesting at this point to compare it to a Rolex Datejust 41.
The DJ41 isn’t actually a 41mm watch. Its dimensions are 39.5mm by 47.5mm with a height of 12mm.
Given that points of a millimetre are small enough to be barely perceptible on wrist, the 035 is essentially, a very close match size wise to that of the Rolex best seller which may raise a few eyebrows.
The shock absorber mounted movement is calibre RMUL1 which is skeletonised over titanium base-plates. It weighs a crazy 4.3 grams
That’s LESS than the weight of a 20p coin or for our American viewers - a nickel
It was made exclusively for Richard Mille by the exceptionally well regarded Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier.
It is independently certified by the Laboratoire Dubois facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds for top notch timekeeping.
Its a 24 jewel automatic movement which gives a decent 55 hour power reserve.
You can always spot a Vaucher calibre in a Richard Mille as a small star motif will be visible on a movement plate, in this case, the star is on the bottom right corner just above the 5 marker.
The skeletonised movement and its blacked out PVD areas looks three dimensionally gorgeous against the backdrop of the NTPT carbon which makes up the rear of the watch. RM have in this instance NOT used a sapphire caseback in order to keep the watch weight to a minimum.
Personally, I prefer it by a country mile because even though Mille calibres are a joy to observe when held up to a light source, I find infinitely less joy looking at squashed arm hair which can be an unintended result of sapphire + skeletonised movement + sapphire. No thank you.
Speaking of sapphire, it is double AR coated to remove any glare and offer a perfect uninterrupted view of the movement.
The seconds tip, crown rubber and rehaut are all accented in red, which is by no means a first for RM but its a welcome dash of colour that elevates the watch away from monochrome and works exceptionally well. Sporty, but subtle.
The strap is an aerated black rubber which slots into the watch as opposed to being a spring bar and lug set-up and is secured using grade 5 titanium splines (echoing the case architecture) and is secured using the typical RM spring loaded clasp which snaps shut with the vigour and precision of an alligator on a burger.
All in, this is an absolute triumph of a RM, and I can genuinely see why they called it the Ultimate Edition.
Its light and comfortable while being harder than a coffin nail.
It’s size (IMO) is absolutely spot on as it has presence, but it isn’t an overbearing wrist monster and fits easily under a sleeve.
The movement is extremely resistant to shocks as well as being accurate, superbly well finished, and fascinating to observe in action.
Its an incredibly rare and attractive watch, and there isn’t a single detail that I would change. I’m even going to go as far as saying that the Ultimate is hands down my favourite from the Richard Mille stable, and it does have some formidable competition if, like me, you’re a fan of the brand.
This example is an absolute minter which has just returned with a new strap and full warrantied service from the gods at RM, so it’s good to go for another few years and guaranteed to survive anything that you can throw at it, or, if you have the brass coconuts of Mr Mille, anywhere you want to throw it.