Richard Mille and Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) launched a new travel-watch, inspired by and adapted to, exclusive journeys on an Airbus Corporate Jet. A watch featuring an all new grand complication, an incomparable timepiece for travellers, and a companion suited to daily wear and use, the RM 62-01 Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm ACJ exemplifies the entire Richard Mille philosophy: taking functionality and performance to new limits. From its complexity, to its complications, to its ergonomics, this piece constitutes a total work of haute horlogerie.
The second iteration of a collaboration between Richard Mille and Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ), the Airbus subsidiary commercialising bespoke private aircraft, the RM 62-01 Tourbillon Vibrating Alarm ACJ is a lifestyle watch with a particular focus on the traveller. Once again, Richard Mille appears where least expected.
“The RM 62-01 is imagined prompting me to continue experiments begun with the RM 50-02 Tourbillon ACJ in a new kind of travel watch. The RM 62-01 is designed for the discretion prevailing in the hushed atmosphere of luxury. Transmitted exclusively by vibrations, its alarm function attests consideration and savoir-faire. It owes its existence to an absolutely singular technical approach. Supremely easy to use, this complication embodies a paradox. Normally, an effective alarm needs to be audible from afar… Ours however, needed to remain within the compass of a few millimetres,” says Richard Mille.
“We, who have plumbed the realm of engineering to protect our watches from shock and vibrations, were all of a sudden inviting these into the heart of the movement. Such was the daring quest behind the choice of materials and dimensions which constitute the pleasure and rarity of this piece.” – Richard Mille
In contrast to the traditional alarms and chimes of most horological today pieces of yesteryear and today, that of the RM 62-01 is absolutely silent. Rather than a hammer that creates a sound by striking a pillar, a gong or the interior of the case, the time signal is transmitted by a vibration only the wearer can perceive. In the intensely focused atmosphere of a meeting room, as in the confined space of a first-class cabin, such consideration is always welcome.
This vibrating alarm, however, had to be designed so as not to affect the watch movement, a major concern. This ultimately led to the idea of using an offset weight in solid gold, akin to an automatic rotor, inspired by the vibrating function of earlier mobile phones. Before producing an entire movement, a wide range of technical issues questions had to be answered. Four partial prototypes and extensive studies based on models and space constraints were required in order to fit so many components and functionalities in the limited volume. There were 816 parts to be housed, 2 barrels, 7 hands, 11 displays and a tourbillon cage. One of Richard Mille’s watch constructors worked on this full time for five years, sometimes with the help of an additional watch constructor, with progress meetings every two weeks. For all these reasons, the RM 62-01 is the most complicated watch Richard Mille has ever created.
The RM 62-01 is equipped with a range of complications catering to the business traveller, whilst breaking with the standard codes of travel watches. It incorporates a UTC indicator for a second time zone, indicated by the green hand at the centre. At 9 o’clock, below the sapphire dial, the tourbillon possesses a free-sprung balance oscillating at 3Hz. The Oversize date is positioned at 12 o’clock and framed by an aperture with the red hatching typical of Richard Mille. Here, the indicator for the movement’s 70-hour power reserve can be found at 11 o’clock.
All functions relating to the vibrating alarm are grouped on the lower part of the main dial. Among other novelties, this is the first watch to boast a function selector with a full five positions to permit adjustment of all settings. Adjustable to the nearest minute on a 24-hour basis, when the appropriate function is selected, the alarm has three indicators of its own: on/off, AM/PM and a power-reserve indicator. The RM 62-01 is also the only alarm to be wound, not by rotating the crown, but simply by pressing the pusher—12 times suffices to fully charge the alarm’s power reserve.
If ever two worlds were destined to meet at the acme of innovation, those worlds are aviation and horology, both on a quest to master space and time. Aeronautics has always held a special place as an inspiration for Richard Mille and the company’s vision of 21st-century horology reveals close parallels with the former’s extreme conditions. The mission Airbus has always upheld of transporting passengers through the air with a maximum of safety and comfort has pushed the company’s technical specialists to the forefront of aeronautic design. The name alone evokes unprecedented approaches to the design of aircraft built by the prestigious subsidiary Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) for exclusive private clients.
The RM 62-01 follows in the footsteps of the 2016 RM 50-02 Tourbillon Split-Seconds Chronograph ACJ, from which it inherits its distinctive lines. But where the RM 50-02 reverberated with the whiteness of the jumbo jet, the RM 62-01 appears inspired by the smooth depths of dark wood panelling from a bespoke cabin interior designed by Sylvain Mariat, Head of ACJ Creative Design & Concepts. The sapphire glass, shaped like an airplane window, crowns the many indicators, which remain easily legible thanks to their colour codes and strong contrast. The extra-wide diameter titanium crown recalls a jet turbine, whilst the pushers evoke the profile of pylons connecting the engine and wing.
The RM 62-01 has a double bezel, a feature that it also sports on the caseback. Resting on a satin polished titanium bezel, the second bezel is milled from a block of Carbon TPT® to a thickness of just 1.8 mm. The choice of these materials transcends merely aesthetic considerations: the titanium/Carbon TPT® pairing provides an optimal weight to stiffness ratio in the functional context of the RM 62—01. This combination ensures that vibrations produced by the alarm will be transferred to the wrist and deflected from the movement, which is thus protected by the structure of the watch itself.
The acquisition of such an exceedingly complex object clearly shows a determination entirely in keeping with the singular aesthetic of this limited edition of 30 pieces.