THE RM 66 FLYING TOURBILLON, PROUDLY UNCONVENTIONAL
The new RM 66 Flying Tourbillon is most certainly one of the most extravagant watches of the collection, flashing for all to see the ‘horns’ hand sign that has symbolised a generation, a school of thought, a state of mind. All those who, like the brand itself, seek to challenge any limitation will see themselves in the originality of the RM 66 Flying Tourbillon. The eye is first drawn to the openwork hand in 5N red gold that holds the movement in its fingers. And because Richard Mille obeys no stylistic rules but its own, the hand that appears on this creation is seen as through an X-ray – a nod to the RM 052 Tourbillon Skull whose identity was firmly anchored in the memento mori, a reminder, via the symbolism of the skull, of how important it is to live each moment to the fullest. Similarly, the RM 66 Flying Tourbillon brilliantly calls to mind the disruptive spirit of the Sixties and that of rock’n’roll, currents that exalted a life lived off the beaten track as never before.
The horns gesture is represented by outstretched index and little fingers, whilst the last phalange of the thumb holding the middle and ring fingers are visible from the back of the watch. For this model, conceived by the Creative and Development Director Cécile Guenat, the five digits of the hand were first milled, then transferred to the master engraver to be perfected by hand. The task of craftmanship was entrusted to Genevan engraver Olivier Vaucher. The protracted and meticulous work of deburring and polishing brings out the contours of the bones and highlights the delicate joints with their microblasted finish. The architecture of the RM66 manual winding calibre showcases a fast-winding barrel providing a 72-hour power reserve positioned at 6 o’clock and the tourbillon at 12 o’clock – a first for the brand. To ensure the greatest possible transparency, the grade 5 titanium movement, whose lines follow those of the hand, is highly skeletonised. This is possible thanks to a complex mechanical solution rarely employed by Richard Mille to enhance the skeletonisation, a flying tourbillon with variable inertia. The tourbillon cage is fixed at only one end of its axis, eliminating the upper bridge so as to visually accentuate the ethereal qualities of the calibre. This wager is nonetheless extremely perilous, given that the brand’s shock-resistance tests are amongst the most stringent in watchmaking.This atypical arrangement, with the movement flipped by 180°, offers pride of place to the tourbillon’s balletic play.
Bringing the world of rock’n’roll to life within the RM 66 Flying Tourbillon called for quite a bit of technical ingenuity — 1,500 hours of Research & Development and 9 months of work for the casing team, in fact. The index points, for instance, are shaped like a guitar plectrum, extended by a lancet arch in titanium. These parts must first be polished — despite the challenges of this task when using titanium – in order to achieve perfect microblasting. Each index is then affixed by screws to the titanium bezel. It goes without saying that polishing the bevelled edges of the latter prior to their black galvanic treatment is also an extremely delicate operation.
The extreme attention to detail is further revealed in the grade 5 titanium crown in the shape of a spider whose gothic-inspired segments embrace a ruby and its circular black rubber gasket. Assembly of this mechanism was quite a challenge. The engraved skullcap offers an additional nod to the RM 052 Tourbillon Skull. The torque-limiting crown means it automatically disengages when the tension of the barrel is optimal, eliminating any risk of over-winding. ‘Between its development and finalization, we spent more than 200 hours on this piece, in addition to the 12 hours required to machine and finish a single crown. Polishing titanium is much more difficult than polishing gold or steel. Not only that, but the polishing also made it difficult to hold the crown without slippage, so we had to use special fixtures to fix the piece from the inside. The creation of this crown thus involves a subtle alchemy,’ explains Julien Boillat, Technical Director for Cases.
The case plays on the contrast between the apparent roughness of Carbon TPT® and the precious sheen of gold. On the grade 5 titanium caseband with satin-finished pillars and polished bevels, 5N red gold plates are inserted. These plates feature a ‘clou de Paris’ pattern, ground down after machining, then hand-polished to restore the sharp edges characteristic of punk belts.
Issued in a limited edition of 50 watches, the RM 66 Flying Tourbillon is an electrifying and dynamic timepiece right down to its finest details, fascinating for its irreverent spirit and a faithful reflection of the brand.