Folks, any takers for the world’s lightest tourbillon split seconds chronograph? Count me in, must say you. Well, to be frank right from the start, I’m talking about the impressive Richard Mille RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 watch introduced this SIHH 2017 which certainly is not for everyone but if you feel like you’re among the lucky ones, read on but if you wanna be entertained please continue reading. Racing you say, right, this watch is all about racing and it’s at the top of its game. What I like about it though aside from the its racing background is its impressive R&D, the reason for its incredibly light weight which we’re going to tackle a bit later.
We’ve seen many tourbillon chronograph watches at SIHH 2017 as technical as the new Richard Mille RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 however in my opinion nothing comes close to what Richard Mille has achieved. Usually tourbillon watches are bulky because they pack lots of parts in their powerhouse, and the same can be said with the Richard Mille RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 however, the big difference are on the materials used. To make long story short, a new piece of material called graphene was achieved through the partnerships between the Swiss watchmaker and the famed British Formula 1 automaker McLaren with the Nobel Prize-winning scientists from the University of Manchester. The research involved combining titanium and carbon TPT (thin-ply technology) with Richard Mille’s exclusive Graph TPT or graphene. This resulted to a material that is now being used on the Richard Mille RM 50–03 McLAREN F1, a graphene six times lighter than steel and 200 times stronger. Now you might want to rethink that not all complicated timepieces are heavy, thanks to the Swiss watchmaker’s efforts, this paves the way to more lightweight designs, exciting times ahead indeed.
As for the classic 44mm x 49mm tonneau-shaped case of the RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 watch, we can see 3 technologies used although 2 of these technologies are already present on most RM watches like the grade 5 titanium and carbon TPT known for its wavy grained texture. The new graphene material added is so revolutionary that it makes the RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 watch even more lighter. Interestingly the caseback also sports 600 parallel layers with graphene reinforcement, now just think about that brute strength my friend. As for the design, well if you’re a petrol head, you’re gonna love this case. Its chronograph pushers look like the air intake ducts of the McLaren-Honda race car. Then there is the huge crown emulating a racing wheel rim, in fact the whole DNA of the watch talks about racing, it’s crazy.
Meanwhile the dial pushes back on the brute mechanical side of the watch as we can still see hallmarks of haute horology such as beautiful hand-finishing techniques seen on the polished sub-dials and hands. The power reserve and torque sensors are beside each other at 12 o’clock. I like how the sub-dials are arranged on the lower left side of the dial without affecting the dial’s balance since the winding indicator mechanism looks smaller than the rest. Yes the watch tells you when you can wind safely which is great specially for this very expensive watch. Moreover, the contrasting colors of red, white, yellow, and green on polished steel offers soothing view compared to the menacing look of the case.
However, the skeletonized system really leans on the very technical side of the watch, I like it.
The watch is powered by a lightweight RM50–03 Calibre. Its design is amazing! The skeletonization of critical movement pieces combined with the grade 5 titanium and TPT Carbon for the heavier baseplate and movement bridges resulted to a mere 7 grams weight. It also sports a new split-seconds system that includes a new column wheel operating the different levels of the split-seconds function resulting to less friction making the chronograph very efficient, so good that it packs 70 hours of power reserve.
The strap of the RM 50–03 McLAREN F1 watch also comes with graphene reinforcements, as such it can take severe beating specially if you’re a real racer. There are only 75 pieces of these menacing boys and they’re only available at RM boutiques. At 980,000 CHF price point plus taxes, you can be happy that it also comes with a 1:5 scale model of the 2017 McLaren-Honda car driven by two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso. For more info, please visit richardmille.com