When the name Richard Mille comes into the game, large tonneau shaped watches come to mind, with a sporty feeling and highly technical content. Not the usual ingredients for a dress-watch. Of course, some editions are less “hardcore” than the others, like for instance the RM 022 Aerodyne (a smaller, less rugged but still highly complicated watch) or the classical RM 029. However, the watch we’re about to review breaks all these codes. It’s round, it’s slim, it’s supposed to be the ‘elegant and dressy’ proposition of the brand. However, surprisingly, it remains recognizable as a Richard Mille all the way round. Let’s have a closer look at the Extra-Flat Richard Mille RM 033 Boutique Edition (Titanium & Rose Gold).
The Richard Mille RM 033 is in every aspect a RM watch but at the same time everything except a RM watch. All of the actual attributes of a Richard Mille watch are absent here but at the same time, you can easily recognize from which manufacture it comes from in a second. It doesn’t have the same shape nor the same racing inspiration, as most of the Richard Mille watches; however it does feature the recognizable look & feel of a watch made by RM… Well, this introduction might be a bit confusing but it’s actually what most of us felt when handling the Richard Mille RM 033, a unique watch in the collection but a watch totally worthy of the name Richard Mille. So, what is the Richard Mille RM 033 about?
The RM 033 is a slim watch (6.30 mm), with a round case made in precious metals, a watch that at first glance looks simple, and sports only 2 hands to indicate hours and minutes, and it comes on a classic brown alligator strap without visible stitching. You’ll have to admit that this isn’t the classic definition of a watch made by RM. We’d rather use the terms tonneau-shaped case, made of carbon fibre nanotubes, with a tourbillon and a G-sensor mechanism or with an ultra-light movement made to resist to 5000g and fitted on a rubber strap. Nothing close to the one at hand. This watch isn’t a technical demonstration, it’s an elegant proposition – and that makes a world of difference. What is common to the Extra-Flat Richard Mille RM 033 and to the rest of the RM watches is the extreme attention to details, the feeling on the wrist, the spectacular finish and the search for unique and desirable movements.
Case and strap
Let’s start with the main departure from the usual RM watch: the case. For most of us, a Richard Mille is defined by its tonneau-shaped case – like this, this, this or this (and even more here). As said, the Richard Mille RM 033 has a round case – but it’s not the only one to feature such a shape, as Richard Mille’s latest creation for example, the Richard Mille RM 63-02 World Timer Automatic is also round and so is the brand’s diver’s watch, the RM 028. In both case, the function guides the shape, because it’s a world-timer that requires a city-ring and a diver watch needs a rotating bezel. While aiming to create an elegant and slim watch, Richard Mille again opted for a round case . A logical choice since it difficult to mix a curved tonneau case with an ultra-slim movement and retain a slim profile for the case as well. The RM 033 measures only 6.30mm in height, and while this is rather thin, it also stays true the brand’s DNA with a case that is large and designed with a lot of masculinity.
The Richard Mille RM 033 measures 45.7mm in diameter, which is admittedly is not a very common size for a dress watch. Clearly here, we’re in front a Richard Mille watch and not in front of a vintage JLC. Elegant and more understated yes, but still a RM for sure. On the other hand, the lugs are short and sloping downward. The RM watches are known for their legendary comfort and we expected to find it back here. In fact, unlike the tonneau-shaped watches from the brand, the case of the Richard Mille RM 033 is not totally curved. The central part is flat and goes down toward the edges and to the lugs. It makes the watch quite large and probably balances best on a relatively large wrist. Note that this was the case here for us but this will of course depend on the wearer. As always: try before buy.
The case of this Boutique Edition Richard Mille RM 033 (limited to 10 pieces) is a mix between 18k red gold for the bezel and the case back and of grade 5 titanium for the central container and the lugs. The case’s details are 100% Richard Mille, with a 3-part construction (tripartite), all the parts being linked together by 16 spline screws in grade 5 titanium – a classical feature of the RM watches. All the parts – bezel and lugs – feature large and highly polished chamfers that contrast with the straight-brushed finish of the flat surfaces. It feels RM but with a bit more luxurious and dressy approach, something that is emphasized by the use of a brown alligator strap – again not usual in the RM collection.
Dial and hands
The RM 033 is a Richard Mille, and thus, like every RM, we can’t really talk about a dial here, but more about a view on the movement partially hidden by hands. From this point of view, the Richard Mille RM 033 follows the trend of most of the timepieces created by the brand since its very beginning in 2001, with the RM 001, meaning that the dial is in fact the main-plate of the movement. Then, something that is also recurrent at RM is the use of layers of sapphire crystal to create flanges and tracks. So, in the case of the Richard Mille RM 033, we have as base, the sandblasted anthracite grey plate of the movement. On the top of that is a ring of sapphire crystal with Roman numerals printed, to create the hour track. This layer of glass only partially covers the movement and the hole in the middle isn’t round but oval, making the numerals also changing in sizes – this to break a too classical and round look.
The hands are typical to Richard Mille – meaning that they are masculine, pointy and sharp, and moreover they impress with a superb execution. The flat surface is finely brushed and the periphery is chamfered and polished, meaning that they are not “stamped” like the hands found in the vast majority of watches out there; here the hands are milled and finished by hand. The overall look of the dial remains (for a Richard Mille of course) very simple, as only 2 hands are running and no other indicator / complication can be seen. The use of Roman numerals also confirms a wish to be more elegant and refined. However, we’re at RM and clearly, this watch is highly technical, masculine and far from the traditional codes of a tuxedo watch. The face isn’t as sporty as other RM watchers and could well be associated with dress attire, while it still feels like a RM.
When it comes to movements, the truth is that Richard Mille is not a manufacture like for instance Patek Philippe or Rolex, with a full integration of all the steps and an internal crafting of all the parts. Instead, Richard Mille can better be seen as designers and developers – and they are very good at that! Thus, to create movements, they rely on specialized manufactures like APRP (Audemars-Piguet Renaud Papi) and Vaucher – the best names in the business. The Richard Mille RM 033 is powered by the Calibre RMXP1, a movement based on a Vaucher architecture. Vaucher is like Parmigiani owned by the Sandoz family and Hèrmes, and also creates movements for third parties (think Alexandre Meerson).
Technically close to the Vaucher 5401, the base movement is highly modified to fit with the vision of RM in terms of look and design. The architecture is a slim movement (2.60mm) with an automatic winding operated by an off-center micro-rotor. The gear train and the winding-mechanism are close to the standard Vaucher movement, and the rest has been fully customized to RM wishes, starting with the skeletonized plates and bridges. The open-worked Calibre RMXP1 features bridges made of grade 5 titanium, that have been ‘wet sand-blasted’ and PVD treated. The openings are complicated and offer a complete view on the technical elements, with a modern and technical design – no old-school / engraved skeletonization here, but something very sharp and clean. The execution is super-clean, with hand-polished chamfers, beveled wheels, burnished pivots and hand-grained steel parts.
Technically speaking, the movement of the Richard Mille RM 033 features a high quality variable inertia / free-sprung balance wheel, a solution that is supposed to increase accuracy (even if more complicated to adjust and more costly to implement). The winding is operated by a mono-bloc platinum micro-rotor that gives power to the watch for 42h. Finally, we can find some spline screws also on the bridges. The amount of skeletonization is rather impressive considering the thickness of the movement and in the end it offers a nice 3D view, with a lot of depth – something you wouldn’t expect from such an extra-flat movement. Finishing is as usual perfect. The look of the movement, technical and cold, contrasts with the warmth of the case but the overall look remains understated and reasonable – again, considering it’s a Richard Mille.
- A interesting interpretation of Richard Mille’s spirit with a more classical approach
- A versatile watch, usable in many situations
- The very slim and flat profile
- A superb movement, with a modern but great finish
- The quality of the execution, both from the case, the hands, the dial or the bridges
- A not-too-skeletonized watch from the front but a superb open-work on the back
- It features typical RM design DNA
- The comfort on the wrist is not as good as with the tonneau-shaped cases
- The 45.7mm diameter… 42mm would have been more elegant
- Is this really a dress watch?
- The price… Justified by the finishing but still impressive for a time-only watch
The Richard Mille RM 033 is an interesting watch as it brings a new idea of the RM concept, now with a round and slim case – two elements that somehow chastened the traditional technical and sporty looks of RM. Despite its different shape it respects the DNA codes implemented by the brand since 2001: bold design, technical movements, superb finishes, innovative solutions… The execution is what you can expect from a Richard Mille watch: superb. One thing remains though, the big question, if it is a proper dress watch? Probably not really, however it is a versatile one. Is it as comfortable as other RM watches? Not for us, but then again, try before you buy, and find out how it sits and balances on your wrist. Could the case be smaller? Yes, 42mm would be enough. Is the price justified? As always with such watches, there are no reasonable feelings anymore and the price comes from 2 factors: the execution and the exclusivity of the product. The Richard Mille RM 033 is like the entire RM collection, an exclusive and fascinating product made for the happy few – and they will certainly enjoy it a lot. Price: approx. € 100,000 Euros in two-tone red gold and titanium and approx. € 90,000 Euros in Titanium. www.richardmille.com.