Richard Mille Just Dropped Two Summery ‘Sun and Sea’ Split-Seconds Chronographs

This summer, the futuristic, proprietary quartz TPT (Thin Ply Technology) case from Richard Mille is getting a refresh while housing a lightweight split-second chronograph movement. It’s an incredible achievement in every way, and its $380,000 price tag reflects that.

Richard Mille’s founding mission statement in 2001 declared a commitment to recreating haute horology without the codes of the past. Modern materials have been a big part of that game plan, and quartz TPT is one of its most important developments (“quartz” refers to the case material, not the movement). The quartz resin cases of the RM 65-01, the manifestation of Richard Mille’s proprietary material, now come in pastel blue and dark yellow, representing sea and sun at the exotic destinations to which Richard Mille customers are no doubt headed this summer.

Quartz TPT is a tough material. It’s used in high-tech, competition sailboats, for example. It is made of silica fibers saturated with resins that work like glue to hold the fibers together and then heated to 120 degrees at an atmospheric pressure of 6 bars. The result is a very hard case material, with color that is consistent, permanent, and—because the case is so big (44.5 mm x 49.94 mm x 16.10 mm)—potentially quite dramatic.

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Richard Mille Split-Seconds Sun and Sky Chronographs for Summer 2024
Richard Mille Split-Seconds Sun and Sky Chronographs for Summer 2024

When Richard Mille started working with TPT in 2017, it was black, which is the dominant color of carbon fibers. Eventually RM technicians started using quartz fibers, instead, which allowed them to infuse color into the resin. A gray version of the RM 65-01 was introduced last year, and is now joined by sky and sun tones. To date, the RM 65-01 has been made in red gold and Carbon TPT, titanium, Carbon TPT and gray quartz TPT. The baseplate and bridges are made of titanium.

Split-seconds are generally regarded as among the most complicated movements to create, even more so than perpetual calendars. Not only is this watch actually complicated, it also looks complicated—perhaps like the control board of a space shuttle. But there’s a method to the madness. The crown and dial colors are coordinated according to function, with each pusher matched to a function on the dial. On the dark yellow model, for example, pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock start, stop and reset the chronograph. They are marked in red to coordinate with the red-tipped chronograph central seconds and the markings on the chronograph hour and minute totalizers.

Richard Mille Split-Seconds Sun and Sky Chronographs for Summer 2024
Richard Mille Split-Seconds Sun and Sky Chronographs for Summer 2024

The 600-part caliber RMAC4 is the most complicated automatic movement made by Richard Mille. It’s a split-seconds column-wheel chronograph that runs at a high frequency of 36,000 vph, which makes it super accurate. The 60-hour power reserve, however, only applies when the chronograph isn’t being used, which can obviously affect the running time as with any mechanical chronograph movement.

Continuing with that control-panel vibe, the gearbox on the crown incorporates a function selector that makes it possible to switch quickly from traditional winding mode (W) to setting the date (D), or the hours and minutes (H). This kind of functionality from a crown is rare. The date is displayed vertically in a window at 11 o’clock, color coded to the date function selector on the crown. Timekeeping functions are all trimmed in light blue, including numerals, the tip of the hour hand and the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. The colors seem to match the energy of the high-beat movement, and a pusher at 8 o’clock on the case side matches the pace by rapidly recharging the barrel spring.

Like all Richard Mille watches, these are scarce and expensive. The dark yellow RM 65-01 is limited to 120 pieces. The pastel blue is unlimited. Both are priced at $380,000.

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