The French watchmaker is a self-proclaimed Formula One and aviation enthusiast, and since the start of his eponymous label in 2001, the timepieces he has created have been crafted with that same passion. “I am mad about aircraft, cars, boats and anything with both a mechanical and an aesthetical dimension,” he shares. “I must have been on board a plane more than 100 times, but I still stop to look at an aircraft when I see one because to me, that is magical.”
At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva in January, Mille took this fixation of his to the next level with the unveiling of the new RM 50-02 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph, a complicated timepiece that was developed in partnership with European airplane maker Airbus Corporate Jets.
The norms of aeronautical engineering, according to Mille, are often challenged by new ways and means of creating more fuel-efficient, lighter and faster aircraft. With that same goal in mind, Sylvain Mariat, head of Airbus Corporate Jets’ creative studio, worked closely with Richard Mille researchers Julien Boillat and Salvador Arbona to co-create a timepiece that was extensively skeletonised in every possible area, offering a significant reduction in weight.
That is just one of many astounding facts about the timepiece. A number of parts within the RM 50-02 calibre are coated with a distinct, aeronautical-grade substance commonly used to protect airplane engines and chassis from harsh environmental conditions and corrosion, and new split-seconds components, which reduce internal friction, cleverly lower the timepiece’s energy consumption.
The RM 50-02 also comes in a novel case engineered in titanium-aluminium, a robust alloy that is resistant to stress and pressure, and used to create the turbine engine blades of Airbus aircraft. The most enchanting part: it is shaped after the unmistakable silhouette of an airplane window.