The most ambitious collaboration to date, the remarkable watch honours the fastest, most advanced and exotic road car McLaren has ever produced – the futuristic Speedtail.
Following the success of its predecessors, including the RM 50-03 Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph Ultralight McLaren F1 – the world’s lightest split-seconds tourbillon chronograph, Richard Mille unveils its latest timepiece that highlights the ongoing partnership with McLaren – the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail.
This is by far the most extreme watch made at Richard Mille that has been created to match the specific hypercar design of the McLaren Speedtail. Hailed as one of the most remarkable and breathtaking car designs of all time, it is also the fastest road-going car McLaren has ever built. Radical in both form and function, the stunning machine is based on one of the purest forms of all, the teardrop.
Seen from above, the streamlined three-seat grand tourer silhouette resembles that of a water droplet, the most aerodynamically efficient shape found in nature. A hand-picked team of no fewer than 12 aerodynamics experts worked on the Speedtail’s form, which involved the design and creation of some of the most advanced airflow systems ever seen on a car of any type.
The hypercar covers 112 metres per second when travelling at its top speed of 402kph, making it the fastest McLaren road car to date. And it was McLaren’s relentless pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency that provided the starting point for the design of the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail.
According to Rob Melville, McLaren Automotive’s design director, the new RM 40-01 perfectly demonstrates why the two brands make ideal partners: “There are many similarities between the way that Richard Mille and McLaren approach common design and engineering challenges, such as saving weight, reducing vibrational impact and minimising resistance. When it came to the RM 40-01, we had considerable input in sharing the highlights of the car and the philosophy behind it. With the Speedtail, we set out to produce a car that had an artistic quality to it. That has certainly come through in the watch, which beautifully mirrors the many various details of the Speedtail in its finish, materials and its uncompromising design.”
Led by Richard Mille’s technical director Julien Boillat, the maison took an unprecedented 2,800 hours over 18 months to perfect the lines of the watch. Five prototypes were created before the optimum shape was achieved because of the unprecedented complexity of the design. The main challenge lay in the fact that the case is significantly wider at 12 o’clock than at 6 o’clock, tapering further between the titanium bezel and caseback, which are separated by a caseband made from Carbon TPT and titanium pillars of unequal lengths.
Explains Boillat, “The watch has one of the highest levels of finishing ever executed at Richard Mille. There has been a lot of development with our anglers and polishers. The attention to detail is extreme, with mirror polished, plain and satinised effects in different areas and the combined use of titanium and Carbon TPT. The case itself is made from 69 individual parts.”
It took 18 months just to perfect a unique upper crystal glass with a ‘triple contour’ to account for the bezel’s decreasing taper and thickness for the sole purpose of protecting the RM 40-01’s state-of-the-art movement. Despite the extraordinary case, Salvador Arbona, Richard Mille’s movement technical director, created a horological engine that seamlessly occupies all the space and introduces a level of mechanical sophistication that makes the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon an extraordinary companion to the Speedtail.
The CRMT4 calibre that powers the timepiece introduces the first in-house development of a power reserve display as well as the oversized date and function selector complications – all of which are firsts for the manufacture on an in-house tourbillon. Three power reserve systems were developed before the definitive version, which is integrated into the watch.
The entirely new movement architecture demanded an incredible 8,600 hours of development, much of which went into finalising the extreme level of detail. This includes some wheels that are machined with a McLaren logo, which adorns the bonnet of the Speedtail, while the domed parts sport new surface profiles that were required to translate the car’s curves (this can be seen on the tourbillon bridge).
To preserve the overall balance of the watch and its sleekness, the date corrector was positioned at 8 o’clock – a far more technically complex but also more aesthetically pleasing solution than the easier option of locating it at 11 o’clock. The platinum and red gold winding rotor is inspired by the Speedtail’s bonnet and the barrel-setting by its roof line. The gentle, downward curve that the mechanism follows from 12 to 6 o’clock echoes the brushed metal divider between the car’s cockpit and its bodywork, a demarcation McLaren was inspired to incorporate from the design of previous Richard Mille watches. The orange line running from the lower part of the movement onto the strap mimics the vertical stoplight mounted in the Speedtail’s rear screen.
The RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is a limited edition of 106 timepieces to reflect the same number of McLaren Speedtails manufactured.
(All images: johnwycherley)