In the context of Richard Mille watches, the RM 011 collection needs little introduction. Originally released several years ago, the Richard Mille RM 011 “Felipe Massa” collection is arguably the brand’s original “breakout model” that helped the ultra-high-end sports watch brand reach its current status in the luxury watch community. For 2015, Richard Mille adds something arguably basic but special for the brand – the first bracelet option for the Richard Mille RM 011 is also the first bracelet for any Richard Mille men’s watch.
It is true that women’s models within the Richard Mille brand have available bracelets, but those are designed more like traditional jewelry bracelets than a link-style watch bracelet. It is also true that the titanium bracelet option for the Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa collection might very well be the most expensive watch bracelet – titanium or otherwise – out there today, with a price (for the bracelet alone) of about $65,000.
The full name of the RM 011 is really the Richard Mille RM 011 (aka RM11, RM011, RM011-FM) Automatic Flyback Chronograph Felipe Massa. As the name describes, this “standard” Felipe Massa model has a number of features, with the 12-hour flyback chronograph being at the center. The movement also has a big date indicator, a month indicator (making it an annual calendar), and a 60-minute countdown dial. The movement is also an automatic and includes Richard Mille’s interesting (albeit not regularly adjusted by consumers) variable geometry automatic rotor that can be “tailored” to a user’s lifestyle. Again, that feature is seldom “played with.” To my knowledge, there aren’t other chronograph movements quite like that in the Richard Mille RM 011 out there.
In addition, the legible albeit intentionally busy dial with its view in to the movement frames the core aesthetic concept of the Richard Mille brand which is an integration between the mechanical movement and the overall design of the watch. Richard Mille understood years ago what a lot of watch brands are coming to understand more and more today; and that is that consumers of luxury sport watches (at various price levels) are increasingly interested in displaying the fact that they are wearing a mechanical watch on their wrist. That means movements shouldn’t be hidden, but rather conspicuously displayed so that the wearer and others can appreciate the “value” behind the purchase which is often heavily in the movement.
Thus, open-worked and skeletonized dials as well as movements are a popular and often crucial elements to having a successful ultra-luxury sports watch – and few brands do it as well as Richard Mille. As such, the dial of the Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa is as much about offering a view of the movement as it is about offering information.
This article isn’t, however, supposed to be about the Richard Mille RM 011 in general, but rather the new bracelet option that Richard Mille debuted for the watch at SIHH 2015. We liked the bracelet option so much that we included it as part of our top 10 watches of SIHH 2015. What was further interesting to me is that choosing the Richard Mille RM 011 on the bracelet for that top 10 list was a unanimous decision among the aBlogtoWatch team members who viewed it, even though not all of those team members are traditionally fans of everything the Richard Mille brand produces.
One of the things we mentioned about the new titanium bracelet option is just how well it seemed to fit the look of the Richard Mille RM 011. I believe that I commented that the bracelet appears to have been part of the collection for years even though it is brand new. This immediate “familiarity” is a positive thing for those people who have a titanium Richard Mille RM 011 and might want to replace the rubber strap with the titanium bracelet.
Like all things Richard Mille, the bracelet option for the Richard Mille RM 011 is expensive but meticulously designed and, more importantly, constructed. Each of the titanium links is individually machined and polished. There are no stamped parts or anything that isn’t individually produced and then finished by hand. Holding the bracelet together are Richard Mille’s signature “spline screws” and there is a “spring loaded” butterfly-style deployant clasp at the end of it. The bracelet doesn’t hide any special tricks or features, but it does look and feel fantastic.
The bracelet is also quite comfortable even though the links are quite thick compared to many other metal bracelets out there. The Richard Mille RM 011 case is 40mm wide and 50mm tall, but it is also 16.15mm thick. So what Richard Mille did was make a thick bracelet to match the thickness of the case – which helps everything work together fluidly. Matched with a titanium case, the titanium bracelet does appear to seamlessly work with the the tonneau shape of the case.
For me, the architectural detail of the bracelet is what is the most important. Look, for example, at the indented sides of the bracelet which match the intended sides of the Felipe Massa watch case. the three-link style of the bracelet has a recessed center link and while the surfaces are brushed, there are polished beveled edges – just like the case. More so, the bracelet tapers in both thickness and width, making for an attractive streamlined appearance on the wrist from where it connects to the watch case down to the deployant clasp.
From a stylistic perspective, what is important about the bracelet is that the Richard Mille RM 011 feels like something you can wear in more situations with more outfits. Richard Mille (intentionally) makes a very casual product that few people would confuse with a dress watch. That is by design, and as someone who tends to not like wearing long sleeves, I appreciate the look of a hefty sports watch. Nevertheless, the addition of the bracelet makes for something a bit more… well, dressy. I would never call this (or most other Richard Mille timepieces) an “elegant watch for formal attire,” but on the bracelet, you can more easily get away with wearing the watch with something that is a bit more “business friendly.”
While the Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa watch in titanium on the bracelet isn’t a revolution, it is a welcome evolution on what makes Richard Mille popular for so many people. Given that we are talking about the context of Richard Mille and all the wild prices that go with it, it doesn’t even feel relevant to discuss the fact they there are cheaper titanium bracelets out there. Even though that is true, none of them look of feel quite like this. Price for the Richard Mille RM 011 in titanium on the strap is $115,000 and the Richard Mille RM 011 Felipe Massa in titanium on the new titanium bracelet is $180,000. richardmille.com