Richard Mille enjoys a close association with many of the world’s top athletes. And with the 2017 World Championships in Athletics due to take place in early August in London, Richard Mille has announced a pair of special watches for two of its newest ambassadors, Olympic medallists Mutaz Essa Barshim and Wayde van Niekerk. These new watches are called the Richard Mille RM 67-02 High Jump and RM 67-02 Sprint, for the athletes’ respective events.
Before we talk about the watches, it is necessary to talk first about Richard Mille’s newest ambassadors. Mutaz Essa Barshim is a Qatari high jump specialist and currently holds the national record and Asian record in high jump with a best mark of 2.43 meters. He won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics. On the other hand, Wayde van Niekerk hails from South Africa and is the current 400-meter world record holder, world champion, and Olympic champion. He also holds the world’s best time in the 300-meter. And that’s not all, as he is also the only sprinter in history to have run the 100 meters in under 10 seconds, the 200 meters in less than 20 seconds, the 300 meters in less than 31 seconds, and the 400 meters in under 44 seconds.
Impressive athletes for sure, but surely also impressive are the new Richard Mille RM 67-02 Sprint and High Jump watches. The RM 67-02 is based on the earlier Richard Mille RM 67-01 (hands-on here) and can be said to be the sports version. The two RM 67-02 watches have the same movement as the RM 67-01, but have different cases that have been designed specifically for the two athletes.
Depending on the angle of perspective, I go from locating the hands perfect to wishing they had 15-20% more surface area. The hands are thick, three-dimensional objects and although they are on the smaller side, I am certain that they are fairly heavy — and micro-rotor moves are rarely large on torque and therefore rarely fitted with substantial hands.The counter-argument is that this is just as much a showpiece as it is a watch and because it is still very legible, they decided to leave a little more space for the eyes to find that the intricate movement, not pay more of it up with even larger hands.Over the past couple of weeks that I spent sporting the Richard Mille RM033 a whole lot, I remember two occasions when I was perplexed and had to look twice to inform the hands apart; the way they stood on the dial along with the way the lights played, I wasn’t quite sure which one was that. Apart from these two exceptionally memorable moments of my entire life, I discovered legibility to be great.
The two Richard Mille RM 67-02 watches weigh just 32g each, which makes them Richard Mille’s lightest automatic watches ever. This is achieved thanks to ultra lightweight materials used throughout the watch. The brightly colored top and back sections of the case are made out of super light but strong Quartz TPT, as we have seen before in watches such as this RM 35-02 watch for Rafael Nadal, while the case middle is made out of Carbon TPT. But that’s not all. The screws used to secure the case are made out of Grade 5 titanium and so are the base plates and bridges used in the movement.
It also helps that the RM 67-02’s case is rather petite (for a Richard Mille, at least). Case diameter is 38.7mm and 47.5mm lug to lug. Thickness is a scant 7.8mm, making it one of Richard Mille’s thinner watches. Water resistance is only 30m, so it should be able to withstand sweaty athletes – if not much more liquid than that.
The two watches are actually identical and only differ in terms of colors, which – even though they might look more like flavors of ice cream – represent the flags of the athletes’ countries. The Richard Mille RM 67-02 Sprint, which was made for Wayne van Niekerk, is decorated with the colors of the South African flag and features a bright green case with yellow accents. On the other hand, the Richard Mille RM 67-02 High Jump, made for Mutaz Essa Barshim, is decorated with the colors of the Qatari flag and features a deep red case with white bands.
Despite the slim case, the RM033 has fantastic volume to it. Even the “spline screws” which hold the bezel, case-band and case-back together force the case-band to possess protruding tunnels to the screws to go through, while everywhere else on the case’s side, lots of substance was taken away. This negative space actually adds quantity to the RM033 — with bare eyes, or even looking through a high magnification loupe or macro lens in smaller parts of the case, there’s just so much to check at and appreciate.The five-prong torque screws of this bezel sit in their small valleys, surrounded by exceptionally fine grained, beveled and polished curves — all eight of them. Four only hold the bezel, however, one in each lug appears to repair the lugs into the case-band and case-back. The latter is one solid piece that includes the curve to maneuver under the lugs, that’s the conventional and extremely ergonomic curved case profile that Richard Mille has on all its watches, however thin.The crown is enormous and intricately crafted from unusual stuff: the black bit is ceramic and the detailing is at a substance that matches the situation — here it has an 18k white gold spike. The ceramic even has alternating finishing which is something I have never seen done on such a little piece. Again, the price sure is stupendous, but I am yet to find a Richard Mille that didn’t have the widest collection of these enormous pain in the neck features. This crown has to be so ridiculously difficult to supply and get right that matters like this will hardly ever be present on even mid-five figure watches — it simply will not be, because designers at the majority of other luxury brands don’t even dare consider stuff like this, and especially not with such regularity.While functionality-wise the crown is so solid as it should be, with dual O-rings and an entirely over-engineered clickyness to it, it took me quite a good time to get used to its looks — it just renders the entire watch more womanly in my own eyes at least, although I’m sure it would not stand this out much if the watch has been on a black strap (more on the strap at a bit).
Powering the two watches is the caliber CRMA7, a skeletonized self-winding movement that is made mostly out of titanium. The rotor is made out of Carbon TPT to reduce weight, but the ends are made out of white gold to ensure winding efficiency. The movement has a very technical and somewhat industrial look, but it is actually very highly finished with micro-blasted sinks and anglage, gray and black electro-plasma treatment for the baseplate and bridges, circular finishing on the wheels, and more as is to be expected from Richard Mille.
It wouldn’t be a novel Richard Mille sports watch with no tourbillon, which the RM 70-10 is not missing. The manually-wound 3Hz tourbillon-escapement caliber RM07-01 motion has 70 hours of power reserve and suggests just the moment. The majority of the movement architecture is generated from titanium, and its appeal is quite much in the plan. Again, this watch is supposed to be the esteemed super high-end lifestyle sports watch manufacturer’s first foray into the world of biking (which, mind you, is just modestly tapped by the luxury watch business today), so it needed to be as on-theme as possible.Richard Mile actually took inspiration from bicycle pedals to the design of the motion — that you can kind of see. The movement offers only the time, but also includes a discreet power reserve indicator near the tourbillon. The “Mechanical Odometer” is technically its own system and can measure up to 99,999 Km (or anything else you would like the numbers to signify).On the wrist, the Richard Mile RM 70-01 Alain Prost isn’t something I’ve yet seen, but the curved instance looks compelling. It’s generated by Carbon TPT, which offers that cool Damascus steel-style natural layered appearance. That is because, such as layered steel, this case is machined pieces of layered carbon. This isn’t the first asymmetric Richard Mille watch (I believe one of those Yohan Blake versions was), but the RM 70-01 is certainly the first that will capture most people’s attention.
One of the interesting things about Richard Mille’s association with top athletes is that, as is famously the case with Rafael Nadal, part of the deal is that the watches are worn during the actual athletic events, which subjects them to uncommon tests of their durability. This is all the more striking considering the average price of a Richard Mille watch, and that tradition continues with these two new watches. The overall styling is bright and brash, but that is the point for so many of the brand’s watches, and you cannot deny that the specifications are impressive – 32g for a self-winding watch is remarkable. You can expect to see these watches on the wrists of Mutaz Essa Barshim and Wayde van Niekerk at the 2017 World Championships in Athletics, which will take place in London from August 5 to August 13. The Richard Mille RM 67-02 Sprint and High Jump are priced in the UK at £116,000 with taxes. richardmille.com