Many sporty high-horology brands like to draw comparisons between the workings of their watches and those of performance automobiles, but Richard Mille timepieces probably come the closest in this regard. Just consider, for instance, the ultra-premium brand’s latest creation, the RM 30-01 Automatic with Declutchable Rotor, powered by the new RMAR2 calibre — a highly skeletonised and dynamic-looking movement (more on that later).
A descendant of the RM 29 and RM 30 — both of which will henceforth be discontinued — the RM 30-01 is equipped with a function selector. This feature has become one of the signatures of Richard Mille since its debut in one of the brand’s earliest timepieces, RM 002-V1. Functioning like an automotive gearbox, the function selector allows the user to switch among modes, such as time-setting or watch-winding, while minimising stresses exerted on the crown.
To choose the desired mode, the user presses the pusher at 2 o’clock. The function indicator at 3 o’clock will then indicate which mode has been activated: W stands for winding, D for date correction, and H for setting the hands (that is, time). This mechanism works via a multi-position clutch system controlled by the pusher.
While not similarly automotive-inspired, another standout feature of the RM 30-01 is a technical accomplishment that remains unique to the brand after first appearing in the RM 30 in 2011. As the name of this timepiece clearly announces, it is fitted with a declutchable rotor. This means that its oscillating weight disengages from the watch’s winding mechanism once the power reserve reaches 55 hours.
When the power reserve falls below 40 hours, the rotor automatically re-engages to wind the mainspring again. Obsessive sorts will be able to keep track of which state the rotor is in by checking out the clutch-engagement indicator located at 11 o’clock — on (winding) or off (disengaged).
According to Richard Mille, conventional automatic-winding systems activate a sliding-clamp system when the mainspring is fully wound. However, long periods of excessive winding can lead to an accumulation of debris inside the barrel. Richard Mille’s declutchable rotor thus circumvents this potential issue.
These features are brought together in a new configuration in the RM 30-01, which has a distinctive aesthetic of its own as a result of the strong lines of its new skeletonised movement. Doing away with the curves of its predecessors, the grade 5 titanium bridges are layered and arranged in a diamond-shaped structure that gives the timepiece a powerful and dynamic aesthetic.
It is all housed, of course, in the brand’s signature curved tonneau-shaped case, one of the most challenging cases to manufacture. The RM 30-01 features two case variations: The first unites a bezel and caseback in red gold with a case middle in titanium, while the other is fully crafted from titanium.
From case to movement, each component is carefully considered. In the press notes for the RM 30-01, Julien Boillat, the brand’s technical director of watch exteriors, cites an example of the consideration given to even the most minute details when realising new designs: The crown of the RM 30-01, which has a mix of satin, microblasted, and polished finishes, he says, is “25 per cent similar to the one on the RM 30, which was completely microblasted”. Says Boillat, “We pay incredible attention to detail and finalise each piece down to the tiniest detail.”