Richard Mille introduced its first in-house automatic tourbillon movement in 2018 – and against all expectations, it was housed in a watch made by a woman for women: the RM 71-01. And while this watch is about as technical and high-performance as it gets, it is simultaneously so beautiful it takes the breath away.On the RM 71-01, the brand’s usual sports and automotive themes have been replaced by inspirations from the worlds of Art Deco jewelry and tribal art. The director of Richard Mille’s ladies’ collections since 2015, Cécile Guenat, is a classically trained jeweler. And as such she has worked to distill a variety of inspirational sources into one unique design: the RM 71-01 Tourbillon Talisman is a triumph of minds, materials, and masterful watchmaking.
Richard Mille Caliber CRMT1: an automatic tourbillon movement
The RM 71-01 is the first collection overseen from A to Z by Cécile Guenat.
Three years in the making, the unique design of the RM 71-01 was set right from the beginning to be powered by a milestone movement for Richard Mille: the brand’s first in-house automatic tourbillon movement.Caliber CRMT1 is the brand’s eighth in-house caliber overall; the first in the autonomous line was Caliber CRMA1, which was developed for the RM 037, coincidentally also a ladies’ watch.
Building on Richard Mille’s now-extensive experience with making these movements, Caliber CRMT1 overwhelmingly comprises micro-blasted grade 5 skeletonized titanium components, making it not only lightweight at just eight grams, but also mechanically beautiful and technically interesting.The balance is free sprung, something usually reserved for complicated mechanisms or high-precision movements; this is not usual fare in a time-only watch destined for a feminine wrist (thank you, Richard Mille!). A free-sprung balance also offers better reliability in case of shocks.
My favorite element in this movement, though, is the gorgeous, diamond-set, variable geometry rotor, a Richard Mille specialty.This innovative technical function allows the speed of winding to be adjusted to the owner’s personal activity level. A watchmaker can easily do this by sliding the assembly’s two weights sideways into the appropriate position and then fixing them in place with the spline screws.
When the weights are closer together, the barrel winds more quickly – advantageous as this improves chronometric performance by providing more torque.
Despite the airy aura its design gives off, this tourbillon was conceived to be particularly shock-resistant. “We were committed to making the cage appear as thought it were floating independent of the base plate and bridges,” reported Salvador Arbona, the brand’s technical director for movements. “Optimization was crucial to ensuring resistance to impact during testing.”
The tourbillon cage weighs a mere 0.3 grams.
Richard Mille RM 71-01 Tourbillon Talisman: design inspiration
The dynamic movement is matched by the watch itself: the new RM 71-01 Tourbillon Talisman was launched as a collection of 10 different styles, each limited to five pieces. Each of the styles in white or red gold is set with the same stones and materials, but each of the settings is different and each of the unique designs combines mother-of-pearl, onyx, and diamonds.In designing these “talismans,” Guenat was inspired by Art Deco and primitive tribal art as well as subtle touches of Bauhaus.
“I like the fact that everyday things, including watches, are perceived as objets d’art worthy of being exalted,” Guenat said. “And nowadays jewelry and watches can also be talismans.”As to why there are 10 different designs, Guenat explained: “One day, our technical director for movements, Salvador Arbona, showed us the automatic in-house tourbillon, which had been in the works for quite a while. I was immediately smitten. When they invited me to work on it and asked if I would design its casing, I got a little carried away. Rather than sticking to a single idea, I found myself drawing several different versions.”Guenat realized that she herself likes to be given a choice, so she championed the RM 71-01 as a collection rather than just one watch. And the shape of the dials, which were already defined by a decision to “crown” the tourbillon, left a variety of options for setting and engraving. The shapes of the gem-set dials forming the center of attention whisper their inspiration to the wearer: “We come from masks, tiaras, and even ritual artifacts.”
“And despite certain concessions required by the techniques [ . . . ], the Art Deco and tribal art influences have been perfectly rendered,” Guenat points out. “While the drawing is the starting point, the work of the artisans is really what brings the watch to life.”
This exclusive collection blurs the line between watch and jewelry: the movement, dial, and case maintain a technical and visual dialogue that explodes in mechanical beauty.
This line also debuts new ostrich or grained, embossed leather straps at Richard Mille that are outfitted with black Velcro closures. Naturally, the client also still has the choice of a metal buckle set with precious stones attached to a conventional black or white alligator skin strap.