Earlier this year Formula One driver Romain Grosjean was added to Richard Mille’s stable of top sporters, or official partner’s as they prefer to call them. Grosjean will be wearing, and thus testing, the new RM 011 Lotus F1 Team-Romain Grosjean automatic flyback chronograph movement in the colors of the British racing team. The case is made of NTPT carbon, a new, light and ultra strong material exclusive to Richard Mille. We had a closer look the case and its production.
During the practice laps, qualification laps and the race, Romain Grosjean will wear his watch outside his overalls! There it will be subjected to knocks, vibrations and lots, and lots of G-forces! Everything has to work perfectly, including a relatively simple part of the watch: the strap. Just imagine the risk when that strap breaks during the race and the watch flying/falling in a random direction.
In the photo above you can see Grosjean wearing the RM on a fellow strap, over his racing suit. The rubber strap is extremely comfortable on the wrist, and because this RM 011 has a case made in NTPT, it’s even lighter than other RM 011 flyback chronographs, and thus even more comfortable. Since Grosjean probably has something else on his mind, it helps that the watch is not un-comfortable or too heavy on the wrist.
NTPT® carbon is a material exclusive to Richard Mille. It consists of over 600 layers of carbon fibers, which are “glued” together with resin. This makes a solid block of carbon fibre composite, which is machined… I made the photo below, during a factory visit recently.
The choice for such a curved “block” has a very unique result. After machining, the bezel gets a wood-like grain that looks very nice, and is of course unique for every watch.
Here’s the block when the bezel has already been machined. Next step is to machine the left side off, so only the NTPT bezel remains, and as you can see the screw holes are already drilled.
The material weight like nothing. I’ve visited quite a few manufactures and holding a case part in my hand isn’t new to me. But when I had this part in my hand it surprised me, because of the “lack of weight”.
The folks over at Richard Mille told me that the bezel is corrosion-proof, exceptionally rigid and highly resistant to impacts. Those are know properties of carbon fibre. What I wondered about was, how scratch proof it actually is. So… we tried.
And even after a few minute of really trying to scratch the surface, not one scratch, not even the smallest, could be seen on the bezel’s surface. That means we can add the “scratch-proof” to the list of properties as well. And the result is on Romain Grosjean’s wrist, ready to be put to the test.
During the race, all small, super light, fragile parts will be seriously put to the test, as they have to withstand quite some G-forces. The entire watch will face even more hardships, as it’s out in the open, on Grosjean’s wrist, with 300+ kilometers per hour (or 200+ miles per hour).
The Richard Mille RM 011 is of course not the most affordable of all flyback chronographs, however they are build with materials coming from Formula One racing – and from other sports in which Richard Mille’s ambassadors are involved in – and they’re put to the test in the most rigorous environment, being real life situations of Richard Mille’s ambassadors. We’re very curious to see what the watch will look after the race, and how the movement has held out.
Before we forget it, both the front and back of the Richard Mille RM 011 NTPT Lotus F1 Team Romain Grosjean is made of the NTPT carbon, that is exclusive to Richard Mille.