Produced in collaboration with the famed McLaren Formula 1 constructor, the new Richard Mille masterpiece achieves an exceptional record as the lightest mechanical chronograph ever made, at less than 40 grams, including strap the brand introduces yet another new high-tech material into the world of watchmaking: Graph TPT, also known as graphene.
These new applications for the material emerged through research at the National Graphene Institute, established in 2015 at The University of Manchester. It’s where graphene was first isolated by Professor Andre Geim of the School of Physics and Astronomy, back in 2004. For this discovery, in 2010 he was awarded with the Nobel Prize in physics, alongside his colleague, Professor Konstantin Novoselov.
A nano-material six times lighter than steel and 200 times stronger, graphene is currently the focus of work between McLaren Technology Group and McLaren-Honda, which aim to introduce the material into McLaren Grand Prix race cars. Richard Mille —whose timepieces have long displayed the influence of motor racing in their design and materials — saw graphene’s physical properties as a means to significantly lower the density of its carbon composite watch cases while at the same time increasing their resistance.
Ultra light is probably not enough to describe the 7-gram movement. The secret to its feather weight lies in the use of grade 5 Titanium and Carbon TPT for the baseplate and bridges, and in the extreme skeletonisation of components. Beating at 21,600 vibrations per hour, it offers 70 hours of power reserve. The RM 50-03 McLaren F1 combines a tourbillon escapement with a split-seconds chronograph function in a single mechanism, thus demanding perfect transfers of energy. This need to reduce friction led Richard Mille’s watchmakers to improve the profiling of the teeth on the movement’s barrel and gear train, resulting in more balanced torque and optimized yield. Both the torque and the 70-hour power reserve are indicated on colorful scales positioned between 11 and 1 o’clock at the front of the watch.
Design of a new split-seconds mechanism and extensive research on the work of the split-seconds clamps have permitted a 50% reduction in the chronograph’s energy consumption, while at the same time reducing arbor friction. The case (44.50 mm x 49.65 mm x 16.10 mm) is water-resistant to 50 metres / 165 feet and assembled with 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium permitting better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly making them unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly.
The Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 will be produced in a numbered, limited edition of 75 pieces and will be available only at Richard Mille boutiques, priced at $980,000. Each watch will be accompanied by a 1:5 scale model of the McLaren-Honda racing car.