The Richard Mille RM 016 Automatic Extra Flat launched in 2007 as the first rectangular watch from the avant garde independent. Despite its compact dimensions and ethereal skeletonized movement, the RM 016 packs all of the high-impact resilience and rough riding durability for which Richard Mille watches have become legendary.
At 50mm from lug-to-lug and 38mm wide in brushed titanium, the ultra-thin (8.25mm) Richard Mille RM 016 sits even lighter on the wrist than most rivals’ forged carbon and composite rivals. RM’s watchmakers’ designed the RM 016 as an ultra-thin alternative to the voluminous tonneau cases that have defined the brand since its 2001 debut.
Richard Mille’s design team sought to reconcile the traditional shock-resistance and high-tech aesthetic of the brand’s catalog with its customers’ demand for a watch that could be worn during formal occasions. Discretion was a new concept for Richard Mille’s designers, and its requirements pushed RM’s team to embrace ultra-thin engineering.
In order to clear a dress cuff and cut a more refined (read: lower) profile in polite company, the RM 016 was cast in the image of a classical early 20th century rectangular watch. Shades of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, Cartier Santos, and Patek Philippe Chronometre Gondolo models can be discerned in the profile of the RM 016. Due to the watch’s exceptionally svelte 8.25mm height, it slips under the sleeve with consummate ease. For good measure, the extremities of the lugs taper downward to ensure precise conformity to the curvature of the wrist flanks.
And the RM 016 sits atop the wrist with the ergonomic bliss of a second skin. Titanium case construction and minimal volume are part of the equation, but Richard Mille’s engineers pushed the limits beyond conventional measures. The entire RMAS7 movement is constructed from grade 5 titanium, skeletonized, and pared to a minimum of physical substance. When held against the light, the RM 016 reads like an otherworldly window frame.
Richard Mille compounds the minimalist virtues of the RM 016 by providing a supple and slender strap composed of lightweight Kevlar and a sliver of soft calf leather. The titanium double-deployant clasp provides security on the wrist and additional mass reduction.
Inside its compact case, the Richard Mille RM 016 remains true to its guiding philosophy: lightness without compromise. All calibrated features of the time are silkscreen printed onto the backside of the dial crystal, and a conventional dial is omitted altogether. At seven o’clock, a discreet date window supplants the numeral. Each structural component of the movement is crafted from skeletonized titanium, and the winding rotor features a similar treatment on all components save the white gold winding mass.
From a functional standpoint, the Richard Mille caliber RMAS7 is no less impressive. While light weight and compact dimensions were central to the design brief, no-holds-barred durability is a given for every Richard Mille offering. The RM 016 retains the elastomer-based shock isolation chassis of its tonneau cousins, and the system provides a redoubtable impact buffer for the movement. Likewise, Richard Mille’s unique “variable geometry” winding rotor permits the user to specify the winding efficiency of the watch at the time of service; it can be configured to wind more or less aggressively depending on the owner’s activity level.
Architecture and hearty construction aside, the RM 016 features all of the modern standards that luxury watch consumers expect of premier products. The automatic winding systems winds with unidirectional action in order to maximize efficiency, and unlubricated ceramic rotor bearings ensure that the winding mass imparts a maximal share of its energy to the winding train. A hacking feature permits precise synchronization to an accurate reference time, and a twin-barrel power reserve ensures 50 hours of autonomy with exceptionally consistent torque delivery to the balance.
See the uniquely elegant and characteristically robust Richard Mille RM 016 Automatic Extra Flat on www.watchuwant.com.