With the new Replica RM 33-02, Richard Mille is launching its first round automatic watch with a case crafted from Carbon TPT.
This model is the evolution of the RM 033 originally introduced in 2011 and the RM 33-01 Automatic that followed in 2015.
The aesthetics of the original has been reinterpreted by combining the curves of a tonneau shape and the elegance of a round form with a sporty vibe coming from the design of the hollows.The 41.70 x 8.80 mm case has a tripartite construction with the front and back bezels made of Carbon TPT and the caseband in satin-finished 5N red gold.Carbon TPT is a material with a unique finish obtained by layering hundreds of sheets of carbon fibres using an automated process that changes the orientation of the weft between layers (you can read more on the hi-tech materials used by Richard Mille for its timepieces here).
The tripartite case is assembled with 14 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in 316L stainless steel, further complemented by integration of the lugs into the case’s torque screw system. Thanks to 2 Nitrile O-ring seals, the watch is water resistant to 30 metres / 100 feet.The design of the strap prolongs that of the two indentations positioned at 6 and 12 o’clock contributing to the dynamics of the case.The RM 33-02 is powered by the skeletonised RMXP1 calibre in grade-5 titanium. Regulated by a variable-inertia balance oscillating at 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations per hour), this calibre is wound by an off-centre platinum micro-rotor that makes it possible to reduce the total thickness of the movement to 2.60 mm. Its volumes are highlighted by the different finishes – microblasted, stretched and satin-finished – and the anglage, all rigorously hand made. The power reserve is 45 hours.Fixed on two rigid titanium rails positioned between the flange and the movement, the oversized 5N gold hour-markers guarantee excellent legibility.
The RM 033 was first introduced in 2011, and today the successor has been realized as the RM 33-02. The new watch shares the same objective as its predecessor: Execute an ultra-thin, round watch (most Richard Mille pieces are not round) in a very Richard Mille way. This iteration is made from Carbon TPT and red gold, and the case is sized at 41mm. The caliber RMXP1 powers the watch, showcased by sapphire crystals on the front and back. The case, dial, and finishing have been updated to make the watch more versatile and sporty. The guiding vision of the watch was to design something that still had signature Richard Mille elements, like a host of next-gen materials and numerous finishes, but that can be worn for any occasion. It’s also noteworthy that the company considers the watch suitable for both men and women; it suggests that the soft nature of rose gold and the tough properties of carbon create a duality fit for both genders to wear.
In 2013 Paul Boutros wrote a Week On The Wrist review of the Richard Mille RM 033, the watch that the RM 33-02 is based on. He was taken by the watch, and noted that its “sensuous, wrist-fitting curvature” worked on his 6.75 inch wrist. If the new RM 33-02 is a general improvement of the former design, then it may open new folks up to the brand who had not previously looked into Mille’s circular designs. As an exercise in how materials work together and an effort to simply push the envelope of material science in horology, the RM 33-2 stands out. It features bits of titanium, platinum, stainless steel, carbon fiber, red gold, and rubber. All in one watch.
The uber tech-forward aesthetic isn’t something I’m often drawn to, but when something like a Richard Mille is produced in a design that’s closer to conventional shapes and patterns that I’m accustomed to, it calls for closer examination. Watch design is generally quite conservative, and to a degree, stagnant. I’m hoping that the technology and material innovation that Richard Mille RM 33-02 is pioneering trickles down and is explored further throughout the industry. What’s most interesting is that even though it takes some serious machinery and engineering to produce materials like Titalyt and Carbon TPT, it’s still all finished by hand. There’s something romantic about that.