I have, sadly, never met Richard Mille in person, however, I have a feeling he would provide interesting company. I would enjoy hearing him regale me with his obsession regarding perfection. It is something which accords with my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He clearly is drawn to examples of prodigious power and phenomenal performance. Mille has sought Ambassadors who are blessed with natural talent and who, statistically, push the limits within the professional sporting arena.
Rafael Nadal is one of the finest exponents of professional tennis. His fastest serve speed at Wimbledon 2012 was said to be 130 mph.
Felipe Massa is no stranger to the podium in the rarefied world of Formula One, with 47 podium finishes to his name.
Roberto Mancini manages an exceptionally talented Manchester City Football Club, who claimed the Barclays Premier League Championship in 2012.
It seems that if you have potential talent for sporting success, Mr Mille will have recorded this in his notebook, adjacent his sketches of mind-blowing space-age watches. It therefore comes as no surprise that another illustrious name, from the sporting world, has joined the Richard Mille family of Ambassadors.
Yohan Blake, the 23 year-old athlete from Jamaica, has repeatedly demonstrated his sporting prowess on the track. In 2012, he ended the season as the second fastest man ever at both 100 metres and 200 metres. He competed in the London Olympics 100 metres final in 2012. It was the fastest race ever, with Usain Bolt winning with a time of 9.63 seconds and Blake coming second with a time of 9.75 seconds. The difference between gold and silver is marginal when competing at this elevated level.
To the naive, it may seem strange that Richard Mille spends an extraordinary amount of time seeking the Ambassadors with which he has forged relationships. However, it is eminently logical when you study the brands history.
Richard Mille have not sought to emulate others with their watch designs. They are a relatively young brand, formed in 2001. The prestigious timepieces, embrace blue-sky thinking, harnessing influences from motorsport and materials typical of the aeronautical industry.
Conventional wisdom is to keep watches away from excessive forces which could potentially harm the mechanical assemblage of intricately formed parts. Moreover, as the complexity of the watch increases, greater care should be exercised. It is therefore a startling spectacle to hear of Monsieur Mille, throwing highly valuable tourbillons at walls to show they can eschew damage despite harsh treatment.
Few watch manufacturers would encourage their clientele to wear a tourbillon whilst playing golf. Yet, Richard passes his watch to Ambassador, and friend, Bubba Watson, and asks him to wear it on his left arm, as he strikes the ball with ferocious force. I have seen Bubba’s watch at close quarters. It is perfect, save for the grubby soils on the reverse of the strap, testament to its daily no-nonsense use.
The dial and case
A vivid compendium of colour engages the eyes. Green and yellow, colours found on the Jamaican flag, provide an individual look, which will divide opinion. I applaud the brave, bold use of colour, albeit, I am not sure it would be my choice. There are other models in the range which I much prefer.
The tripartite case, a Richard Mille speciality, is made of a translucent composite formed of injected carbon fibre nanotubes. At first glance it looks slightly distressed with mottled finish. The benefit of the material is its superb shock-resistant properties. Grade 5 titanium spline screws hold the three part case together in steadfast union. The screws, in combination with two Nitril O-ring seals and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel, ensure water resistance to 30 metres.
The hour and minute hands are skeletonised, tipped in red, bestowing further excitement to the dial. Green and yellow feature on the inner aluminium, upper flanges, with small Arabic numerals presented adjacent the yellow chapter ring. Reverse the watch and next to the sapphire caseback is a lower flange constructed of grade 5 titanium.
The bridges repeat the green and yellow theme. They are made of Anticordal PB109 Aluminium, with yellow detail, painted by hand. If you study the profile of the bridges, they impersonate the outstretched fingers of Yohan Blake, a trait he exhibits as he runs.
The crown is detailed in green, with the two finishes of the case and strap, being positioned adjacent to each other.
Yohan Blake wears the watch on his right wrist. The profile of the case is asymmetrical, enhancing wearer comfort, especially as he is set in the blocks, hands flat on the floor, about to commence the start phase of the sprint.
The caliber RM 59-01 is a manual winding tourbillon movement displaying hours and minutes. Whilst some Richard Mille models are fitted with more complications, to add more functions to this watch may have lead to confusion. This is due to the complex character of the case and dial ensemble and I think the brand has been wise not to add more information which could prove distracting.
The aforementioned crown has a torque limiting feature to prevent accidental overwinding. This is one further example of the profound engineering excellence of the watches bearing the Richard Mille nomenclature. All mechanical aspects are distilled to a very high standard.
The RM 59-01 may be modern in its appearance but it does not overlook fine finishing. The micro-blasted baseplate is constructed of grade 5 titanium and the bridges feature hand-polished bevelling. The sinks are polished and wheels are circular decorated to their front surfaces.
Some people may not like the extrovert personality of the RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake and may dismiss it. However, that would be a shame. If you appraise the depth of engineering showcased in this watch, you have to acknowledge it is the product of “out of the box thinking”.
I think the outcome is sublime.
The Richard Mille RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake demonstrates the expertise of the brand brilliantly and some of the knowhow may trickle-down to future models which has to be a good thing.
This watch performs its role to a high standard and provides a powerful argument for Mr Mille’s relentless pursuit of supremacy in the arena of haute horology.
Technical Specification – Richard Mille RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake
- Case: Composite compound made from injected carbon nanotubes; dimensions 50.24 mm x 42.70 mm; height 15.84 mm; Water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and rear.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; tourbillon.
- Movement: Caliber RM59-01; manual-wind; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 19 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.