In an industry where beauty and exclusivity can count as much, if not more than technical precision it’s not uncommon to feel as though all of the life is being sucked out of the room once discussions begin to use words like ‘torque’ or ‘inertia’. Think back to your days in school: did you sit with glee listening to lectures on the laws of Physics as told by Isaac Newton? I’m just speculating, but my guess is that Richard Mille’s car has a bumper sticker on it that says something to the effect: “The Only Law I Obey is F = MA!” In any case, Mille’s new RM 36-01 is both beautiful and at only 30 pieces worldwide VERY exclusive.
I know that there is a contingent of ‘readers’ who only come to Monochrome-Watches.com for the pictures. That’s fine. I totally understand; that’s why I started visiting the site too! At times like these, as SIHH rages on, and my inbox literally FLOODS with specification sheets (and pictures! OOoooooh!) I comprehend how much of a role physics, plain-Jane Newtonian physics plays in the execution of these masterpieces. (Boring as it may seem) a great deal of literary real estate is dedicated to words like “Friction”, “Inertia”, “Torque” and lest we not forget the ever present ‘pull’ created by the force of “Gravity”. Nowhere is Isaac Newton’s hand more visible than in the works of Richard Mille. A lot of other brands do their utmost to disguise the brute forces at work to create, test and even operate their watches; Richard Mille puts those forces on display.
Richard Mille specialize in making high-performance watches for people with high-performance jobs (like Rafael Nadal). The RM 36-01 Competition G Sensor Sebastian Loeb is a 47.7mm, round, carbon nanotube and Grade 5 Titanium case (as an aside, ‘Grade 5 Titanium’ is the new black this season.) watch, featuring a spectacular manual wind tourbillon with styling and construction cues that point directly at motorsports.
Apart from the 70 hour power reserve, 37 jewel, tourbillon movement, the main feature of the RM 36-01 is the Rotary G Sensor mounted in the middle of the dial. The watch is dedicated to 9-time World Rally Car Champion Sebastian Loeb; the paring makes perfect sense.
Just in case your only exposure to motorsports comes by way of NASCAR or monster truck races, rally driving is insanely fast, and precise – placing almost incomprehensible demands on the cars and drivers. Loeb is the best.
(Warning – it’s best to watch this on an empty stomach):
At 17mm across and consisting of an astonishing 50 components, the G Sensor works by measuring the impulse created by moving a weight mounted within the dial of the watch. As the weight is shifted from side to side by the forces acting on it and the wearer, the center mounted dial reads out how severe the changes in lateral acceleration are – up to 6 times the force of gravity.
The RM 36 ‘Jean Todt’ (see here) watch also contained a G Sensor, visible in the top half of the dial. The resetting button for the RM36 was mounted at 9 o’clock. For the RM 36-01 the reset button is on the dial itself. Again, to illustrate Mille’s connection to motorsports, the sensor is shaped to resemble the hub of a wheel. The struts holding the sensor in place on the faceplate of the watch are shaped like the A-arms of a car’s suspension. The RM 36-01 differentiates itself from the RM 36 by mounting the reset button on the dial and making the semicircular read-out one of the main visual accents of the dial. The wearer views and uses the G Sensor as a functional tool while driving as opposed to a watch with a novelty G sensor.
The list of physics related toys doesn’t stop at the G Sensor; other notable features of the watch include:
- Free Sprung Balance Wheel with Variable Inertia – designed to minimize the effects of impacts on long-term reliability.
- 6 Hour rotating Barrel – designed to optimize power reserve by maximizing the output of the mainspring.
- Barrel Pawl with Progressive Recoil – a fancy way of saying that the mainspring winds more at the beginning in order to maximize shape and tension.
- Modular and Wheel-based time setting mechanisms insure smoother setting and also because the time setting functions are a module added to the back plate of the movement, repair or replacement can be made without having to tear apart the entire movement or even having to remove the hands from the dial.
- There is a selector button at 2 o’clock that switches the mode of the winding crown in a fashion analogous to how a gear selector of a car or bike works. This allows the user to choose the setting of the winding crown (also shaped like the hub of a racing wheel) between Winding, Hand Setting and Neutral. By using a button actuated selector to tell the watch whether you are setting the time or winding the mainspring, wear is reduced on the crown. (We’ve seen this type of technology used on the Grönefeld One Hertz and also on some of Marc Jenni’s recent creations.)
- A Ceramic end-stone for the tourbillon movement to minimize long-term wear.
- Specially designed, ridged bridge-plate to maximize rigidity.
- The teeth of the Winding Barrel and Third-Wheel Pinion are designed to insure greater torque transmission through the gear train.
- The Grade 5 Titanium Spline Screws holding the bridges together are designed to insure they will not come loose after exposure to high vibrations over the long term. The heads of the screws are specially designed to insure a more even and accurate application of torque during assembly AND to insure that they are not easily meddled with.
Ladies and Gentlemen please put your pencils and calculators down and please pass your exam forward to be collected.