A star of contemporary watchmaking as a result of its consistent innovation in unusual, lightweight materials, Richard Mille watches have a unique style that is instantly recognisable. A bestseller that’s arguably the brand’s signature watch, the RM 11 is large, technical-looking, and now in its fifth generation.
The RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT is the latest to join the RM 11 line-up, which was first launched over a decade now but regularly face-lifted. Limited to 140 pieces and powered by the same RMAC3 calibre found in its predecessors, the RM 11-05 continues Richard Mille’s material-centric design with a case in grey cermet.
Richard Mille watches are unfailing bold, and often extravagant; the RM 11-05 sticks to that formula and is immediately identifiable. It is a modest, incremental change over earlier RM 11 variants, so it doesn’t offer substantial novelty. But for a fan of the brand and its trademark style, it is very much the traditional Richard Mille look and feel.
Blending metal and ceramic
The RM 11-05 is novel in its case material – surprising since the brand seems to have used every conceivable modern material – which is grey cermet case, a first for Richard Mille. A contraction of ceramic and metal, cermet is a composite of ceramic and metal alloy, resulting in a material that combines the properties of the two.
Cermet is more commonly employed in ballistic protection and aerospace components. Although the material has been used before in watchmaking – such as the Cermet Royal Oak Skeleton and in the shrouds of the Seiko Marinemaster 1000m Cermet – it is still rather uncommon.
The cermet used for the case is a metallic zirconium matrix mixed with ceramic. Heating and pressing the two materials, each with different physical properties, proved to be a challenge. It looks years of collaboration between Richard Mille and French micro-engineering specialist IMI Group to create the cermet case.
The result is a case that combines the characteristics of titanium and ceramic. It is incredibly lightweight, with a mass to volume ratio of 4.1 g/cm3, while boasting a hardness of 2,360 Vickers. To put its hardness in perspective, diamond has a hardness of 2,400 Vickers.
The cermet case is brushed and dark grey, but livened up by bright orange and baby blue accents throughout the watch that really contrast against the grey cermet. The result is unapologetically sporty and one that grabs your attention, which is very much in keeping with the brand’s style. Interestingly, the colour scheme reminds me of the Ford GT40 in blue-and-orange livery that won Le Mans in 1968.
While the material is new, the case shape is the quintessential tonneau, a silhouette that has become synonymous with Richard Mille. At 42.7 mm wide, 50 mm long and 16.15 mm tall, it is definitely has wrist presence.
However, as is characteristic of the Richard Mille case design, the watch will wear well despite its large dimensions, thanks to its lightness and case back with a pronounced curvature that conforms to the wrist.
The dial also keeps to the usual Richard Mille look. Fully skeletonised with much of the calendar and chronograph module visible, it appears busy at a glance, but the display is easily deciphered thanks to the bright colours and bold hands.
The RM 11-05 features the RMAC3, a mainstay of the brand’s movement offerings. Manufactured by Vaucher, sister company of Parmigiani, it is an automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve.
Notably, the movement has a flyback chronograph function which means that the chronograph can be reset while running without needing to stop it first. Additionally, it features a second time zone display and an annual calendar. The movement has a modular construction, which means the complication module for the chronograph and calendar sit on top of the automatic base movement, which is why most of the mechanics are visible under the dial.
The aesthetic is very much Richard Mille, with skeletonised base plate and bridges in black-coated titanium and the brand’s proprietary “variable geometry” rotor.
Adjustable “wings” can be set to any of six positions that vary the rotor’s inertia and rotational speed, which optimises the rate of the winding of the mainspring relative to the wearer’s activity.
Key Facts and Price
Richard Mille RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT
Diameter: 42.70 mm
Thickness: 16.15 mm
Water resistance: 50 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, month, GMT and flyback chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours
Strap: Carbon TPT
Limited edition: 140 pieces
Availability: Now at boutiques and authorised retailers
Price: 204,000 Swiss francs
For more, visit Richardmille.com.
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