Richard Mille has partnered with many superstars the world over to bring us innovative watches that we can relate to our heroes. They include Cyril Kongo, a French painter and graffiti artist, with whom the fruitful collaboration resulted in the extraordinarily colourful RM 68-01 Kongo Tourbillon; RM 61-01 Yohan Blake with sprinter Yohan Blake that features the emblematic yellow and green of the Jamaican flag; and tennis maestro Rafael Nadal.
Such is Richard Mille’s dedication towards creating excellent watches in partnerships with only a handful of those who have made it to the respective summit of their field. These watches incorporate technological breakthroughs in their construction. Innovative materials such as Quartz TPT, Graph TPT, NTPT, among others, are used, not just for the sake of showcasing its savoir-faire but to increase the watches’ durability in all conditions.
This is the reason why Richard Mille has managed to establish its formidable presence at the very top of haute horlogerie in a short span of time. The manufacture was only founded in 1999. But what it lacks in age, it makes it up with boldness and innovation.
Never one to rest on its laurels, Richard Mille has decided to honour motorsport legend Jean Todt for his 50 years of hard work, dedicating his life to the very sport that he loves. Current president of the FIA, Todt is perhaps best remembered for his reign as general manager at Scuderia Ferrari from 1994 to 2007. Under whose watch, F1 legend Michael Schumacher won five F1 drivers’ championships and Scuderia Ferrari was crowned constructors’ champion seven times.
It’s a glittering career with a list of achievements that few can match.
Todt’s relationship with Richard Mille isn’t confined to a one-off collaboration, but one that goes back to when he was introduced to Richard Mille by his son. In an exclusive interview, Todt divulges that he is an avid watch collector and “Richard Mille himself is a creative genius who has succeeded in doing something with technology that no-one had mastered until now”.
To understand that statement, one has to wind back the clock and trace the roots. Back in 2013, Richard Mille officially debuted the RM 036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt Limited Edition at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève to much acclaim.
The curved, ergonomic case of the watch specifically requested by Todt for this exceptional timepiece houses the RM036 calibre, a tourbillon movement made entirely of grade 5 titanium and ARCAP, with a carbon nano-fibre baseplate.
This combination of materials provides the movement with optimal resistance and flatness, and draws a sublime contrast with the finishing, which includes polishing, shot-blasting and satin-brushing. The manually wound mechanical calibre features hours, minutes and seconds combined with a brand-new complication: a mechanical G-sensor.
The G-sensor system was developed and patented by Renaud Papi exclusively for Richard Mille, and translates the movement of a small internal mechanism to an indicator, thereby enabling the wearer to visualise the forces. Composed of over 50 parts and measuring a mere 17mm, the RM 036’s G-sensor can withstand decelerations of several tens of Gs. Only 15 pieces were produced.
After that, along came the Tourbillon RM 58-01 World Timer Jean Todt Limited Edition with just 35 units produced. Understanding the strain of hopping between various time zones in a packed F1 schedule, the watch allows for easy reading of time zones and operating of the mechanism.
Unlike other GMT watches, the Tourbillon RM 58-01 World Timer Jean Todt Limited Edition doesn’t need any adjusting of the push piece to change from one time zone to another. The time is set by simply rotating the bezel anticlockwise, making adjustment a much quicker operation. All one needs to do is to position the name of the city where he or she has just landed at 12 o’clock, which automatically sets local time and the time in the other 23 world cities thanks to the 24-hour scale engraved on the flange.
Fast forward to today and for this special occasion, Richard Mille dedicates three models to Todt, each bearing his name and favourite colours: RM 11-03, RM 050 and RM 056 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary.
The RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary is a thoroughbred sports watch, wholly inspired by automobiles and their history while displaying the new visual codes of the brand. Powered by an architectural automatic calibre in grade 5 titanium, the RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary is protected by a new blue and white Quartz TPT case.
Both extremely resistant and light, this composite is obtained by stacking 600 layers of silica at only 45 microns thick, which are then impregnated with an exclusive Richard Mille blue resin. The assembly is then heated to 120°C before being machined in the Richard Mille manufacture.
Among the three watches introduced, the RM 11-03 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary is produced in a higher quantity but no less exclusive than the other two. After all, it is only available in a highly limited edition of 150 pieces.
On the other hand, the same blue Quartz TPT is also utilised for the case of the RM 050 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary. This calibre houses a split-second chronograph regulated by a tourbillon. The extreme skeletonisation of the bridges and baseplate, combined with the use of titanium and carbon nano-fibre made it possible to obtain a particularly light movement, weighing only 9.5g but offering startling performance. Only a total of five pieces will be produced for this limited edition.
The last of three but also the rarest of all – only three units will be released. The RM 056 Jean Todt 50th Anniversary contains the split-second chronograph function. Its sapphire case’s construction and curvature require both human ingenuity and very long machining time, essential to achieving this level of ergonomics and finish, unique even in fine watchmaking.
This case requires more than 1,000 hours of machining, including 430 hours devoted to grinding and 350 hours of polishing.
With the release of this exceptional collection, Todt and Richard Mille have forged a stronger friendship based on their shared passion for watches and excellence.