If the word innovation is frequently found in the current watchmaking vocabulary, it will be necessary to invent a term to define the earthquake caused by the presentation of the new Richard Mille watch. Admittedly, the brand is already widely known for its ability to regularly launch timepieces that are spectacular in terms of their look, their performance or their avant-garde materials. But this time, it’s about something else. The shape of the RM UP-01 Ferrari? Never seen before… The thickness of the case? 1.75 mm (roughly that of a CD), an absolute record of thinness… The complexity of its mechanical movement? Incomprehensible… As for the look, no need to look for noon to 2 p.m.: a simple look is enough to understand that we are in the presence of a UFO.

With its thickness of only 1.75 mm, the watch breaks all thinness records. © DR

When the legendary car manufacturer approached Richard Mille to study the possibility of a collaboration, the watchmaker had been working for several years on a project as crazy as it was secret. At the antipodes of the ultra-sporty watches that have become the brand’s signature, the objective this time was to design the flattest timepiece imaginable. Once the link with Ferrari was established, the progress of the preliminary work allowed the project to be completed relatively quickly. As for the Italian brand, it is clear that Richard Mille’s passion for motor racing was an essential factor in the genesis of this shared adventure, as was the unbridled search for performance and attention to detail.

Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari watch. Grade 5 titanium case. Dimensions 51 x 39 mm. Hand-wound ultra-thin movement. Variable inertia balance. Power reserve 45 hours. Assembly of the case by 13 titanium spline screws. Laser engraved prancing horse. Water resistant to 10m. © DR

The designers of the watch admit that they have never pushed the limits of technical research so far, producing around fifty prototypes during 6,000 hours of development, before achieving the desired result. “With such a project, all the knowledge acquired during years of practice, all watchmaking standards must be put on hold. However, if we are ultra-thin, we wanted to produce a part that met the same validation requirements as all our other models. “, we confide at Richard Mille. The watch takes on the appearance of an extremely thin titanium plate on the wrist, but sufficiently rigid to guarantee the smooth running of the mechanical movement with manual winding. Not a single one of its components existed beforehand on another model of the brand and patents have been filed. The numbers are staggering. Caliber height: 1.18 mm for a weight of 2.82 g. Case thickness: 1.75mm, the watch weighs only 30g including strap.

When a watch case is thinner than the strap. © DR

To gain finesse, the winding of the movement and the setting of the time are carried out using a selector and a crown on the left of the dial. The time indications occupy the central place via two hands forming an integral part of the mechanism. Finally, the escapement is visible on the right, overhanging the famous prancing horse “signing” the watch. It should be noted that the design of the dial was imagined in consultation between the teams of Richard Mille and Ferrari. But Tim Malachard, marketing director of the watchmaker, wants to make an essential clarification: under its concept watch looks, the RM UP-01 Ferrari is intended as a watch to be worn every day. Its price? Almost two million euros. The price of exclusivity and an extraordinary technical challenge. But let’s bet that the most fervent Ferrari lovers would be damned to acquire one of the 150 copies of this piece…