The Star, August 16, 2018
BY BERVIN CHEONG
Since 2005, Richard Mille has been celebrating the refinement and strength of women through its exquisite timepieces. The watch brand often highlights multiple facets of femininity in different designs.
The new RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman is not any different. More than that, it pushes the boundaries of innovation even further when it comes to the crafting of a breathtakingly beautiful watch.
Ladies’ collection director of Richard Mille, Cecile Guenat, says that she chose to glorify the skeleton movement of this watch through the many possibilities for setting and engraving the case.
“In designing this collection, I drew not only on art deco, but on the tribal arts – masks, African sculptures – whose impact on all great modern and contemporary artists has been enormous.
“The contrasts, geometry, and sacred character of these objects fascinate me all the more because they prefigured today’s design through the fusion of content and form,” Guenat explains.
To fully understand the story, one must go back three years, when Guenat was first asked to join the company and design new creations. The challenge was said to have proved irresistible for her.
After graduating from the Geneva School of Art and Design, Guenat gained experience with a jeweller in Lausanne, then with a London jewellery designer, where she created collections for a number of couture houses and branded designs.
“We needed a modern, creative and talented young woman to inject new energy into our status quo and take the women’s collection to new heights,” states founder of the brand, Richard Mille himself.
“It was Cecile Guenat, the daughter of my friend and business partner Dominique, who met this challenge by overcoming technical obstacles, freeing herself from consensus and establishing a unique and resolutely contemporary style.”
The RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman abolishes the distinction between jewellery and its case. The movement, dial and case maintain an aesthetic, technical and visual dialogue in each version.
“Yet to truly put the launch in a class of its own, we needed to combine the exceptional design with technical prowess, hence the brand’s very first automatic tourbillon movement!” Richard notes.
“It is not the existence of this specificity that is of principal concern so much as the extraordinary technical characteristics – the performance, reliability and breathtaking finishes.”
With this horological tourbillon, the brand inducts the Calibre CRMT1, its eighth, in-house calibre. The baseplate protecting the tourbillon’s rotation remains open to preserve transparency.
Skeletonised and tonneau-shaped, with a thickness no greater than 6.2 mm and a weight of just 8 grams, the Calibre CRMT1 – housed in a case of white or red gold – is clothed in titanium.
According to Richard Mille’s technical director for movements, Salvador Arbona, the RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman is designed to be worn day-in day-out, precisely because it has an automatic winding mechanism.
“The first challenge was to produce an automatic tourbillon movement that could be housed in the narrow, curved case. The second was to meet all our standards in terms of performance, be it chronometric results, automatic winding or shock resistance.”
Guenat was nevertheless, adamant about offering jewelled fittings to match the mechanical sophistication of the brand. Jewellery artisans, dial-makers and watchmakers were thus put to the test by the complexity of the watch.
While the artisanal and artistic combine their expressions in the skeletonisation, settings and production of the dials, the complex mechanism itself here serves to articulate ideal proportions.
The RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman radiates in all directions, but by no means any which way. Each and every segment of stones systematically extends or echoes one of the movement’s internal vectors.
Each of the 10 dials crowns the central portion of the tourbillon. Each dial, a mere 0.9 mm in thickness, is hand set. This component is an immense technical challenge because of the many different finishing operations required.
The bezel is adorned with diamonds in permutations that vary in the number, shape and size of the stones according to the version.
The caseback is engraved with matt bands that contrast strikingly with the brilliance of the stones and the high polish of all other surfaces.