Racing Machine For The Wrist: Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Swiss Watch
“We hate gimmicks,” says Richard Mille announcing the RM 11-03 McLaren at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. “Everything we create must have the best possible efficiency,” continues the founder of the Swiss brand, maker of some of the finest crafted, technical and innovative timepieces. He is in Geneva to introduce the first product to be born from a ten-year contract between Richard Mille and the maker of some of the world’s purest sports cars McLaren Automotive.
McLaren’s design director Rob Melville worked closely with one of Richard Mille’s engineers Fabrice Namura to create the automatic flyback chronograph. Elements on the watch observe some of the styling cues found on the exterior and interior of McLaren cars, while the highly technical and lightweight materials used to build this wristwatch are reflective of what constructs the high-performance super cars.
Melville says the process has been about exploring a unique design theme and utilizing modern technical materials that relate directly to McLaren supercars. So, the RM 11-03 case is made of carbon TPT interlaced with orange quartz TPT that is extremely resistant and lightweight, while paying tribute to a quintessential McLaren color. Mille admits achieving the right shade of orange while passing the vigorous tests he puts the watches through to be durable, resistant and safe wasn’t an easy task.
As with all McLaren cars, the materials used here is also highly authentic. The carbon, for instance, enhances the mechanical performance of the RM 11-03 and offers great resistance to harsh environment. The titanium pushers, fitted to the case, echo the latest 720S headlight design. Titanium inserts, similar in shape to the iconic McLaren F1’s air-intake snorkel and bearing the carmaker’s logo, adorn the bezel. While, the complex grade five titanium crown is shaped like a lightweight wheel and the “speedmark” logo is incorporated into the rubber strap specifically developed for this wristwatch.
The RM 11-03 is a highly technical product and, like McLaren cars, its beauty lies within this sense of precision, of innovation, of advanced engineering. The watch features Richard Mille’s automatic RMAC3 caliber mechanism, conceived two years ago, with a flyback chronograph and 55-hour power reserve. What this means is that the instant return of the counter to zero makes it possible to restart the stopwatch function very quickly. The baseplate and bridges, made for the RM 11-03 McLaren, is of PVD-treated grade five titanium, enabling the gear train to function effortlessly. Finally, the dial features an annual calendar and oversized date, as well as a 12-hour chronograph and countdown counters.
Mike Flewitt, McLaren Automotive CEO, says the relationship with Richard Mille feels natural. “We share a passion for racing cars and for watches. We have a lot of commonality in terms of design, innovation, creativity and we share customers.” Mille agrees: “We are both totally mad about race cars and have a passion for technique. We love innovative materials, extreme performance is crucial for us and we love beautiful shapes.” Richard Mille watches are literally like racing machines for the wrist.
With the launch of the Senna, the latest extreme car to join the McLaren Ultimate Series first teased in December, he felt it was the right time to create a collection that would complement the new model. Mille muses: “The style will go along really well with the car to be the perfect combination.”
The two products genuinely feel like a natural fit too. If Senna is about finding the purest connection between driver and car, the RM 11-03 McLaren is like a second skin. “All our cars are made using carbon-fiber because of the light structure and the performance it brings. Senna weighs very little and Richard’s beautiful watch will not add any more weight when you’re driving the car as it is superbly engineered using broadly the same materials as we use in our cars.”
Priced at around $190,000 (plus tax), only 500 RM 11-03 McLarens will be made with first refusals given to the 500 McLaren Senna owners.