Every once in a while, some watch manufacture will make a modest innovation, but real evolution in the world of mechanical watches happens infrequently. So, you really have to admire Richard Mille. He comes from an automotive background, and applied his innovative spirit to watches, and almost overnight his eponymous brand has become an elite and exciting manufacture.
Basically, Richard Mille scrapped old ideas about how to put a watch together. He uses new materials in the caliber, and rearranges the positions of the components. Just take a look at the display back on this watch, and you will see that he has moved some gear trains that are normally behind the dial to the rear of the caliber. He makes movement plates out of carbon fiber, uses ceramics and titanium components to reduce friction... he has basically rethought caliber design and construction.
In a direct overture to automotive technology, Richard places a gear and clutch assembly into the operation of the watch. Just below the '4' at 4 o'clock is a small hand with the positions: 'W', 'N' and 'H'. By pressing the button set into the crown, the hand is toggled between these settings, with 'W' being the crown winding position, 'H' being the crown time setting position and 'N' being the crown neutral position.
Richard also rethought how to indicate the power remaining in a watch. Whereas some other watches display the number of hours of power remaining in the mainspring, Richard decided that measuring the torque remaining in a movement was more useful. Consequently, witness the two scales at the top of the dial which measure power reserve and torque.
He didn't stop here, either; he re-thought case construction. From the distinctively shaped titanium screws which fasten the case together, to a new manner of seating the crystal into the case, Mr. Mille's casework also presents real innovation.
I particularly like how the uniquely shaped screw heads used on the main case are also used to fasten the bridges to the dial. What attention to detail!
Finally, just for audacity's sake, he included a tourbillon. Not wanting to pull up short, Mr. Mille uses ceramics in the toubillon assembly -- a first. The balance assembly is also a new design, both in terms of design and materials.
Case is 18k rose gold, with dimensions of 45mm long by 38.3mm wide by 11.85mm thick. Sapphire crystals front and back. Because of the materials used in this watch, it is very light for a gold watch.
This exciting and highly innovative timepiece is new with box and papers. US Retail Price is $263,000.