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Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

The Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Mask was introduced a few months back as a limited edition for the Americas, and I was recently able to get my hands on the White Quartz TPT model. Not exclusively an aesthetic stamp, the Rorschach test of a mask is fully integrated with the movement and tourbillon. This starkly white version is done in a Quartz TPT (Thin Ply Technology) case done by Richard Mille’s partner, North Thin Ply Technologies. For those not familiar, it’s a super-lightweight and very strong material created by layering very thin strands of thin-ply quartz fibers that results in a damascene look. It’s a very lightweight and highly strong material otherwise used for aeronautics, boating, and sports.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

As with all things Richard Mille, the RM 52-06 Tourbillon Mask caters to the .1% while confounding casual observers and many watch collectors alike. There are four versions of the Tourbillon Mask being produced, each limited to just 18 pieces and only available in select retailers in the Americas. Even if you could afford the $700,000 price, I am willing to bet there will be several disappointed Richard Mille collectors out there not able to get their hands on one, at least in their preferred color.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

The first Richard Mille RM 052 Tourbillon Skull watch was released back in 2012. Skulls can be a tired motif, but Richard Mille obviously took it beyond the usual, making the titanium skull serve as the baseplate and bridges while the upper and lower jaws of the skull hold the ruby of the tourbillon cage. When discussing the RM 52-06 skull, the brand asks “Does one see a luchador, a kabuki mask, a superhero or even a gladiator helmet?” The skull almost elicits a feeling of pareidolia, even though the interpretation isn’t left that wide open.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

With the skull and movement being integrated (and remember the skull itself serves as wheel train and tourbillon bridge), the back of the skull serves as a center bridge. Sandblasted and with anglage work, all eight titanium bridges that connect the skull with the case are visible from the back. These bridges are all grade 5 titanium and have been created from one block.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

The RM 052 movement was recently used in the RM 52-05 Tourbillon that Richard Mille did in collaboration with Pharrell, and it’s what you’ll find beneath the skull of the RM 52-06. The manual-wind skeletonized movement has a free sprung balance wheel with variable inertia (meaning greater resistance from shocks and better accuracy over time), a fast-rotating barrel that takes six hours per revolution rather than 7.5 (improves mainspring ad overall performance), barrel pawl with progressive recoil, and winding barrel teeth and third-wheel pinion with central involute profile (improves torque transmission and overall performance). Operating at 21,600 vph, the RM 052 has a 42-hour power reserve.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

I want to get back to the Quartz TPT material used to build the case for a bit. It’s been explained several times, but I found a pithy and informative paragraph on the Richard Mille website about the process that I want to share:

Quartz fibres are generally used for very high-performance applications due to their resistance to high temperatures, their strength and their transparency to electromagnetic waves. These fibres are specifically aligned in layers no thicker than 45 microns and saturated in resins developed specially for Richard Mille. These layers are then stacked using an automatic positioning system that changes the orientation of the fibre between each layer by 45°. After being heated to 120°C and subjected to a pressure of 6 bars, they are machined on a CNC machine at Richard Mille’s manufacturing facility. Carbon TPT® is made by an identical process, but from carbon threads.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

For most people, the Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Mask is a perplexing bauble that almost has a prerequisite of a nine-figure net worth in order to be appreciated. And that’s basically correct when we’re talking about the brand that is single-handedly the dominant status symbol in the watch world. You can imagine the types of individuals that make up the crowd of friends taking their guess as to what the mask looks like, right? And that’s much of the appeal.

Hands-On: The $700,000 Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull Watch Hands-On

The Richard Mille RM 52-06 Tourbillon Skull is limited to 18 pieces each (Carbon TPT, Quartz TPT, blue & white Quartz TPT, and red & white Quartz TPT). Price starts at $698,000 USD. You can learn more at richardmille.com.

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Comments

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  • Bladeknight

    I will never spend $700k on this ridiculous watch even when I have all the Apple’s cash.

    • ray h.

      What does ” all the Apple’s cash” mean ?

      • Spike

        1000 billion USD (i.e. Apple’s total market cap)

      • Bladeknight

        I’m not sure about now but last year Apple had $210.6 billion in cash on hand.

  • Ugo

    well, SuperStrapper will be happy with the color…

    • SuperStrapper

      What did I do now?

  • NaJo

    Dont understand the price. The watch side profile looks like a vanilla icream stick!

    • Sheez Gagoo

      More like an ice cream sandwich.

  • What fresh hell is this?

    An awful lot of money for a fibreglass watch

  • Swiss_Cheese

    You gotta hand it to Richard Mille, In spite of all the perfectly justified criticisms that they receive, you can’t say they don’t try and diversify their target audience – a year ago they made watches aimed squarely at people with the name ‘Sylvester Stallone’, a few months back they made watches aimed towards international confectionery executives, then they cornered the niche market of astronauts with a soft spot for Pharrell Williams.

    Now it appears their target market is incredibly well-to-do luchadores, or… I can’t be the only one that sees it:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ff0eb773b3ca7870ef9ef1339c289be88d6efb79a510925508de443322fff056.png

    • Independent_George

      That’s also the face of the mid-level financial advisor at CAA tasked with trying to control the spending of an upcoming rapper when you walks into the office rocking one and says “Pharrell’s got one.”

  • Marius

    the brand that is single-handedly the dominant status symbol in the watch world.

    You can write that a million times but it will not be so.

  • Pete L

    People seem to buy them so why not. Although most seem to be in th F1 paddock where they are two a penny. Seen a lot of fakes on wrists out in the wild. A fake Rolex is one thing as they are still attainable by many. A fake Mille fools nobody.

  • Mark B

    They should have named it The Terminator

    • BNABOD

      The watch to end all watches?

  • Independent_George

    $700,000 for a Hublot homage? Good luck with that, Richard Miller, or whatever your name is. I am looking forward to buying this for $200,000 on the grey market! A BLNR holds value better. What a joke, I can get a Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical for $450.00, and it is totally better.

    Seriously, how does one buy a Richard Mille watch? Do I just walk into a Richard Mille boutique, try one one, and say, “I’ll take it.”

    “With tax, that will be $764,310.00. How would you like to pay for it?

    “Let’s see . . . I think I’ll use the ole Capital One Venture Card. I get double miles!”

    I mean, I am skeptical that anyone actually pays $700,000 for this watch. I think Mille “retail” watch pricing is more signalling. It’s saying “It’s expensive, and you can’t afford it. But I can.”

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This watch looks dreadful on the wrist.
    I’m officially fed up with skeletonisation.

  • Guy Horesh

    i can think of better things to spand my hard earn money on.

  • mach2guy

    Quite Fugly and,,,ridicules price!

  • mtnsicl

    You’d have to be a fool to pay $700 for this watch!

  • Norman Stansfield

    Some gold, some red, Tony Stark feels me…

  • ray h.

    You pay off one of your cars,get a bit of equity in your house and then run out and buy a Rolex for 10k and brag about it,a $500 to make at most Rolex ,and pay 10k ! Maybe Richard knows you better than you know yourself ?

  • Wibble

    It looks like a prize you would win at a fair. Honestly if someone wants to spend that sort of money on s watch that is up to them, but honestly not this one!

  • Independent_George

    Price aside, I think this is a cool looking watch, with skeletonization done in a very create way. Aesthetically, I like it much better than the GP Laureato Light.

  • Mr. Snrub
  • Spike

    Came here to read the comments. With pop corn.

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    What an amazing alternative for a Baby G.

  • gwd

    Richard Mille watches all look like the cases are 3D printed and rough.

  • Ivie Godwin Amadin

    These watches are great investment… Depending who wore them. I love quality watches that can be pass from generation to generations.

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