Richard Mille Facelifts the Bestselling RM 11 Chronograph

The Richard Mille smash hit enters its second generation with the RM 11-03 that's more of the same with an edgy twist.

Long the top seller’s amongst Richard Mille‘s timepieces, the RM 011 chronograph has been redesigned, keeping to the same basics but with a dose of aggressive, techy styling. Richard Mille watches have always been about automotive inspiration, and the RM 11-03 is like a hyperactive car racing computer game.

Popular for its shape and noticeable size, the RM 11 sticks to the brand’s signature tonneau shape, but with slightly changed proportions. The new RM 11-03 is shorter but wider than its predecessor, being 49.94mm in length and 44.50mm wide, but remains exactly the same height at 16.15mm. Another new case feature are the columns on the case flanks in the same style as the ultra-light RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal that give the case a more sculpted, angular look.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 red gold 3

Other aesthetic tweaks include the new rubber-ringed crown and pushers, as well as a redesigned skeleton dial featuring coloured accents and sunken sub-dials with bevelled edges. And a less obvious, but significant change is the model name at seven o’clock on the dial. While the first generation was labelled “RM011-FM”, regardless of version, the latest is just “RM11-03”. That’s because the RM011 was originally conceived for Brazilian Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, who will retire at the end of the 2016 season.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 red gold 1

Visible through the dial is  the titanium base plate of the movement, the RMAC3, equipped with double barrels and a 55-hour power reserve. The self-winding calibre is made by movement specialist Vaucher, and remains mechanically identical to that in the first generation RM 11. Featuring an annual calendar function, meaning it accounts for months with 30 or 31 days (so requires setting once a year in February), the RMAC3 also has a flyback function, meaning the chronograph can be reset and restarted instantaneously with one button.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 red gold 2

The movement has undergone a major cosmetic overhaul, with brushed titanium bridges and a restyled variable geometry rotor. Put simply the rotor has adjustable flaps to vary the efficiency of the automatic winding to suit the wearer’s activity; this adjustment has to be done by a watchmaker.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 red gold 4

Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.

Addition September 2, 2016: Included explanation for the removal of “FM” in model name.


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Introducing the Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2, with Self-Starting Detent Escapement

German independent watchmaker Klings has perfected the chronometer escapement by making it self-starting.

Christian Klings is the quintessential independent watchmaker as imagined by most watch collectors: a artisan working on his own, building highly complex and beautiful timepieces – including some classically beautiful yet technically novel wristwatches – from scratch. Highly regarded by those in the know, yet not widely known, Klings is based in Wechselburg, a small town an hour away from Dresden.

Having produced a mere 20 timepieces across a two-decade career, his latest creation is a pocket watch with tourbillon regulator and a self-starting spring detent escapement, an accomplishment that was historically impossible.

The delicate spring detent

The detent escapement, sometimes called the chronometer escapement, was invented in the late 18th century and became the standard escapement on top quality timekeepers like marine chronometers and chronometer pocket watches until the mid-20th century. By then it was already obsolete, since the Swiss lever escapement became standard in all wristwatches.

A tourbillon chronometer pocket watch with a spring detent escapement; tourbillon built by Albert Pellaton. Circa 1900. ©Trustees of the British Museum

But the detent escapement lived on in artisanal timepieces created by independent watchmakers in the later part of the 20th century. In fact, a tourbillon pocket watch with spring detent escapement was usually the first major project undertaken by many of today’s leading independent watchmakers, including prominent talents like Kari Voutilainen and F.P. Journe. In fact, Journe’s Historical Anniversary Tourbillon T30 wristwatch is modelled on his very first creation, a pocket watch tourbillon with detent escapement.

But the detent escapement has a major drawback, it is delicate, being vulnerable to shocks and isn’t self-starting. That means the escapement tends to stop when jarred, and needs a shake to start beating once again. Its fragile nature is due to the way in which it works: a thin spring with a jewel on its tip locks the escape wheel, and the spring is released by jewel on the balance as the balance swings. When the spring is released briefly, it unlocks the escape wheel, which advances by one step. That in turns gives an impulse to the balance as one tooth on the escape wheel nudges the roller jewel of the balance.

Because the escape wheel works directly against the balance (the lever escapement found in ordinary watches has a pallet fork between the two), the detent escapement is efficient and needs no lubrication. These qualities made it ideal for marine chronometers, which had to keep good time while being at sea for long periods.

The Klings invention

The carriage of the Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2

Christian Klings conceived a self-starting detent escapement by means of an extra pair of springs connected to the gear train that lock the balance once the mainspring is empty. Once wound up, the movement of the gear train unlocks the spring, releasing the balance wheel. His invention has not been patented, consequently the technical diagrams for the movement will only be handed over to the owner of the Tourbillon Nr. 2.

Klings estimates it took him between 1500 to 2000 hours of work to produce and assembly the Tourbillon Nr. 2. The timepiece had an even longer gestation period, requiring a tremendous amount of trial and error to perfect the self-starting escapement. Klings began the project in 2001 and only completed it last year.

Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2 - 6

Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2 - 4

The base movement of the Tourbillon Nr. 2 is a 19th century Swiss pocket watch calibre that was heavily modified, with the key addition being the one-minute tourbillon regulator. Beyond adding a tourbillon and new escapement, Klings also open-worked the German silver bridges in order to allow for finer finishing, especially of the bevelled edges. The cock for the fourth wheel was also reworked into a slim, rounded arm to reveal more of the escapement.

Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2 - 1

Christian Klings Tourbillon Nr. 2 - 2

In addition Klings also incorporated a moon phase display into the movement, as well as his proprietary zero-reset hack seconds. Pulling the crown stops the seconds hand and returns it to 12 o’clock for precise time-setting.

The parts of the tourbillon and moon phase

The 47mm yellow gold case was made in-house by Klings, as was the sterling silver dial with hand-engraved numbers and lettering.

Price and availability 

The Tourbillon Nr. 2 is a unique creation and available direct from Christian Klings.

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Rolex Opens Expansive Boutique in Singapore Featuring Permanent Exhibition

One of the largest Rolex stores in the world is now open in Singapore and even includes a first-of-its-kind exhibition of inventions and achievements.

Rolex and Singapore retailer Cortina Watch have just opened an enormous 513 square metre – that’s over 5500 square feet – store in the city state, complete with a permanent exhibition explaining Rolex, from its key innovations to landmark timepieces like the Deepsea Challenge.

The sweeping boutique is a powerful statement by the world’s luxury watch brand, one that is particularly resonant given the poor demand for luxury watches in Asia.

Rolex Singapore Boutique Marina Square 2

Located in Marina Square, a mall sited near the business district, the new Rolex store is one of the largest single-brand watch stores in South East Asia. By comparison, the recently opened Patek Philippe boutique in Singapore is half as large, and it’s the brand’s largest in the region. Naturally the store is outfitted in typical Rolex fashion, a conservative style that’s late 20th century with lots of green, beige and shades of brown.

The private room inside the store

Not only is the size unusual, the new store has a unique feature in the rear, The Rolex Exhibition. Inspired by The Rolex Experience, an even larger, 800 square metre store and museum in Shanghai, the Singapore store features a permanent exhibition comprising three sections, starting with The Rolex Way, a dictionary that explains key innovations developed by Rolex, from the Cerachrom ceramic bezel to the recent, high-efficiency Chronergy escapement in the new Datejust 41.

The Rolex Way

It continues with The World of Rolex, a video that’s all about the brand’s philanthropy as well as its ambassadors in the arts, sports and exploration. But the most interesting is the final section, Rolex and the Deep. This covers Rolex’s accomplishments in deep sea exploration, namely the two expeditions in 1960 and 2012 that visited the deepest place on Earth, Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench. Both experimental wristwatches that accompanied each expedition, the Deep Sea Special and Deepsea Challenge, are on show, as are models of the submarines that took the watches to unprecedented depths.

The World of Rolex video wall

Rolex Boutique Cortina Watch MSQ
#02-38 Marina Square
6 Raffles Boulevard
Singapore 039594

Opening daily from 11am to 9pm.

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