We here at Monochrome get quite a few press releases every day, and sometimes, just sometimes, there’s one that just makes your jaw drop and hit the table. My first thought when this came in, is whether mr. Richard Mille had been smoking something or eating the wrong mushrooms on his Spaghetti con Funghi. After a closer observation -and reading the press release- it becomes clear that this is actually the work of graffiti/street artist Cyril Kongo and he didn’t use a wall/building/garage door for canvas this time. He used Richard Mille’s tourbillon calibre, and it’s an entirely different ballgame to paint on such a small surface. Here’s the Richard Mille RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo.
This new Richard Mille creation is probably the exact opposite of our magazine’s name, Monochrome Watches. On the new Richard Mille collaboration with Cyril Kongo, the colours are everywhere and they are quite overwhelming. The thing that triggered me is the craftsmanship. You cannot simply pick up an spray paint can and blast its content all over a mechanical movement. Guaranteed, it will not function anymore. So in order to create this colourful timepiece, a lot of practise and special tools were needed.
Kongo: “It took the development of special tools, and over a year of experimentation for me to be capable of painting on a watch some five square centimetres (two inches.) Certain pieces were barely a few millimetres long, some even smaller, and I had to put the lettering directly on them, enough for visual effect but without using much paint so as to avoid throwing off the balance of the movement. It’s as though, starting from a complete automobile, I had to paint the chassis, the engine, each piston etc.”
There will be 30 pieces of this Richard Mille RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo, and every single one will be unique. So one way or another, you can buy a unique piece of art, and it’s unique in more ways because this is probably the first time that a street artist gets the chance to use bridges, mainplate and even the main spring barrel as a canvas. Or rather as wall (or garage door). Buying such a unique piece will set you back a mere $ 685,000 USD and we do not know how future auctions will respond to such unique art. Most importantly: buy it to wear it, to enjoy it. And while I wouldn’t (hey, we called with website Monochrome Watches for a reason), I must say that the level of craftsmanship is impressive.
This collaboration piece shows more than Cyril Kongo’s craftsmanship. The entire movement is a magnificent pleasure to look at, as it features sapphire crystal and stainless steel bridges. The sapphire bridges offer such a ‘lightness’ to the entire design and it almost makes the movement float inside the case. The steel bridges and spray-painted for a large part, however the parts that aren’t show a stunning finishing with hand-polished bevels, and straight brushing on the flat surfaces. In other words, there’s also a lot of impressive watchmaker-craftsmanship to be seen.
Whether this is your kind of watch or not, the amount of craftsmanship is there, and it’s rather spectacular. Even on the reverse side of the movement that can be admired. One factor we should not forget, is that (besides the fact that this is FAR from the ordinary spray-paint job) the paint on bridges, main plate and main spring barrel, must be coated. We wouldn’t want a tiny chip of paint to get stuck between some of the wheels. So altogether… impressive work. And like with all art: taste is highly individual and you may like it or not. There’s much, much more to this watch, however for once, for this particular creation of Richard Mille we’re not going to dig into all technicalities.
Specifications Richard Mille RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo
- Case: TZP black ceramic, 50.2 x 42.7 x 15.8 mm, grade 5 titanium flange around the movement, sapphire crystal on both sides,
- Movement: calibre RM 68-01, manual winding, tourbillon, power reserve of 42 hours, free spring balance with variable inertia, hand-polished bevelling, polished screw sinks,
- Strap / clasp: Fabric strap with deployant clasp.
The Richard Mille RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo is available for $ 685,000 USD and is limited to 30 unique hand painted pieces.