Drawing inspiration from the disco-laden 1970s, Richard Mille is intent to enchant the free-spirited woman with a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours.
The RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman collection is the brand’s endeavour to recreate the flamboyance and energy of retro-glam permeating the air inside the famed Studio 54. Neon lights, fog generators, sequin dresses, groovy beats and fluid moves are reimagined through a vibrant array of gemstones.
Combining tsavorites, spessartite, amethysts, diamonds, spinels, rubies and sapphires, never before has Richard Mille summoned this extensive breadth of precious stones to produce any of its timepieces. Ladies, you are in luck. Even for someone like me who tends to renounce look-at-me timepieces, this is one stupendous collection.
In its previous incarnation unveiled in 2018, the RM 71-01 Automatic Winding Tourbillon Talisman collection drew from a different well. Conceived by Cécile Guenat, creative and development director of Richard Mille, she melded tribal arts with sculpted lines and Art Deco with contemporary style to birth a medley spotlighting principally diamonds. It was an archetypal women’s collection designed by a woman through the prism of Richard Mille.
As gorgeous as the RM 71-01 Automatic Winding Tourbillon Talisman collection was, Guenat has unearthed another dimension to the Talisman with the new approach.
Its effervescence stems from the deliberate peppering of gemstones onto the watch case. Guenat was bent on channelling “the intense glamour of the disco era” through “a multiplication of colours and textures” of these jewels. Over six months were spent to validate the stones’ positioning to achieve the precise effect sought.
“I had to find a way to make this idea tangible. Working with the stones themselves proved to be a considerable challenge. Because stones of very similar hues can end up looking completely different depending on their size and the type of setting,” Guenat spills her concerns in the making of the RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman collection.
Is Guenat pleased with the result? With the RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman collection available in a whopping 10 references, you would be hard pressed to not surmise she got carried away – to our benefit. Each model is limited to seven pieces and differs in the composition of stones, settings, engravings and the central decoration of the 0.9mm-thick dial. The dial harnesses from two distinct universes: one more plant-based and the other more urban.
You may recall Richard Mille’s whimsical and colourful Bonbon collection was produced in a series of 10 references, and it mimicked either sweets or fruits.
Just like an amulet, gemstones are selectively applied for the significance they portray. For example, hematite for strength, malachite for inner balance, lapis lazuli for vision, sugilite for protection, pink opal for healing, etc.
Bianca features pink sapphires, tsavorites, diamonds, peridots, rubies, hematite and pink opal, numbering 941 jewels at 4.96 carats; Carmen is set with sapphires and yellow sapphires, diamonds, tsavorites, peridots, lapis lazuli, chrysolemon and malachite, numbering 971 jewels at 5.42 carats; Diana flaunts sapphires, rubies, diamonds, lapis lazuli, white mother-of-pearl and turquoise, numbering 915 jewels at 5.59 carats.
Donna is festooned with pink and yellow sapphires, diamonds, spessartite, rubies, pink opal and hematite, numbering 823 jewels at 3.88 carats; Gloria is endowed with pink and yellow sapphires, black spinels, spessartite, diamonds, pink opal, onyx and hematite, numbering 967 jewels at 5.26 carats.
Furthermore, Grace houses sapphires, pink sapphires, diamonds, amethysts, tsavorites, rubies, chrysoprase and opal, numbering 964 jewels at 5.05 carats; Jane is embellished with sapphires, yellow and pink sapphires, diamonds, spessartite, rubies, turquoise and opal, numbering 962 jewels at 4.95 carats; Jessica is bedecked with sapphires, yellow sapphires, diamonds, spessartite, turquoise, lapis lazuli and hematite, numbering 954 jewels at 5.58 carats.
Liz boasts tsavorites, peridots, purple sapphires, amethysts, diamonds, sugilite, chrysolemon and malachite, numbering 817 jewels at 4.45 carats; Paloma flashes sapphires, pink sapphires, diamonds, pink mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, jasper, onyx and black spinels, numbering 892 jewels at 5.79 carats.
Regardless of which stones are featured, every Talisman is equipped with the in-house CRMT1 automatic tourbillon movement packing approximately 50 hours of power reserve. Usually, a tourbillon constitutes the centrepiece of a watch. But in the case of the Talisman, I am not convinced this notion holds true with gemstones vying for attention.
Serving as a canvas to the bed of precious stones, the watch case measures 52.2mm x 34.4mm x 12.5mm and is made of white gold. Richard Mille reveals the recipe to be 75% gold, 4% silver and 17% palladium. The rationale behind using a high palladium content is to elevate the white brilliance of the alloy.
At least 44 different stamping operations are required to complete the bezel, caseband and caseback. The machine tooling process requires two days of adjustment for each component. The undecorated case consumes more than 255 tooling operations, and over five hours of glazing and polishing for the final phase.
10 variations of snow and grain settings are deployed to harmonise the different textures, diameters and faceting of the gemstones, in order to achieve the desired expression of each Talisman model. An aspect of the Talisman collection which may not be immediately apparent is that the strap of each model is composed of two juxtaposing motifs and shades: vegetal for the top half and geometric for the bottom half.
What astounds me is not the hours Richard Mille spent plodding away to make a visually gratifying timepiece, which is to be expected of any watch brand at this level, but there are a total of 70 pieces available globally. As to the question of how many Donnas or Janes will Malaysia be entitled to is a matter I can’t possibly let on (I have sworn on the names of my loved ones). But you can hazard a guess.
(Main and featured image: Lilas Lequellec/Richard Mille)
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia.