The RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Second Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1
The RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Second Chronograph ultralight McLaren F1
With all stories that brands tell you about their watch, there is an element of romance that is crowbarred into the narrative and frankly, we don’t mind. We’re romantics at heart, but in the case of the RM 50-03 there is the ring of truth about it. Richard Mille, attending his first race, saw Bruce McLaren drive at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, and that, on some level was the start of the connection between the two eponymous brands.
There is an understandable relationship between Richard Mille and McLaren, a shared ethos, something symbiotic. This however, is the first time that Richard Mille has benefitted from technology pioneered by their automotive BFF’s. McLaren in their characteristic drive (pun sadly intended) to improve through innovation and invention, have created something quite special. In conjunction with two Nobel Prize winning scientists at Manchester University they have developed a substance called Graph TPT, injected with graphene, a substance 1/6 the weight of steel, but 200 times as strong.
Richard Mille have taken this wonder material and crafted from it a split second chronograph with tourbillon that weighs in at 38 grams including the strap. That’s 1.3 ounces if you happen to be from one of the three countries* in the world that doesn’t recognise the metric system. That’s the weight of two hen eggs if you happen to measure things in chickens. Essentially, no matter how you look at it, that’s crazy light.
This watch is not a light empty shell containing nothing more horological than a minute and hour hand, it has not one but two high-end complications. So complex and interwoven is the movement that we cannot decide if it classes as a skeleton or not.
Starting in the top right quadrant the face has a torque indicator half dial that registers the optimum tension for the mainspring. At three o’clock on the elongated face, a shape familiar to RM fans, there is a triangular dial denoting the function being selected when the crown is deployed. The rubberized crown, in McLaren racing red against a black grey case, is equipped with a feature that prevents the risk of over winding. The tourbillon sits prominently at 6 o’clock, and accounts for only 7 grams of the total weight, but can withstand shocks of up to 5000g. The split second timer has been entirely redesigned to guarantee accuracy.
This watch is undoubtedly one of the talking points of SIHH 2017, and it is easy to see why. Unlike so many brands that loudly declare their automotive credibility and forget all about it 6 months down the line, Richard Mille have committed to their relationship with McLaren for the next ten years. If you fail to see a little corporate romance in that, or in the RM 50-03, then we suspect you have no heart.
* For those of you who are interested, the 3 countries that don’t officially use the metric system are USA, Burma, and Liberia
Written by Iain Robb