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Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Forty grams. That’s the total weight, including the strap, of the new Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 watch, making it the lightest split-second chronograph with a tourbillon the world has ever seen. Ok, yes – this isn’t exactly an ultra-competitive category – hell, the RM 50-03 is a veritable boat-anchor when compared to the groundbreaking 19-gram RM 027 Tourbillon Richard Mille built for Rafael Nadal, but that was, by comparison, a much less complicated watch. A mere 40 grams is still an impressive technical feat when you look at just how much is packed into the latest marvel from Richard Mille. The cost for the 40-gram horological wonder? It’ll be seven figures.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

UPDATE 2016/2/10: The production model of the Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 will include an orange strap, crown rubber and rehaut as seen here – differing from the prototypes we saw and photographed at SIHH 2017.

Richard Mille is no slouch when it comes to passionately creative design and materials (possible understatement of the year, though the year is still young). However, in breaking new ground for this particular watch, it took a partnership between the Swiss watchmaker, famed British Formula 1 automaker McLaren, and Nobel Prize-winning scientists from the University of Manchester. The product of their collaboration is a case that marries titanium, carbon TPT (thin-ply technology), and a Richard Mille exclusive and apparent watchmaking first: Graph TPT, better known as graphene, that is six times lighter than steel and 200 times as strong. It’s on the cutting edge of materials research and sets the bar for lightweight strength in timepieces.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

The Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 watch is the first completed collaboration between Richard Mille and McLaren in what should be a 10-year deal, as we reported a year ago. It’s a partnership that, quite frankly, makes a lot of sense – not only is founder Richard Mille a true petrolhead and F1 racing fan, both brands are on the cutting edge of development and design to push the limits of what is possible in their respective fields. And speaking of pushing limits, the Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 really does exactly that – it’s obviously not a watch for everyone, as its wild design and eye-watering price point immediately confirm. But for those who appreciate the crazy amounts of R&D that go into every Richard Mille, there’s a whole hell of a lot to like here – starting with the construction of the watch’s unique three-part case.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Now, we’ve already seen some pretty ultralight cases come out of the RM workshop – it’s sort of a hallmark of the brand, after all, and this collaborative effort is no different. As mentioned, the classic tonneau-shaped case incorporates a trio of material technologies, including the grade 5 titanium, along with subtly textured carbon TPT, whose wavy “grains” are now a regular fixture on the Richard Mille workbench. However, with the Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1, the McLaren partnership paved the way for the addition of graphene to the equation – herein, the visibly undulating strata of the carbon bezel and caseback are actually comprised of 600 parallel layers (at a thickness of 30 microns) which have been reinforced with a graphene injection – a revolutionary nanomaterial that, as previously mentioned, is far lighter and more resilient than steel.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Naturally, the endless possibilities in F1 for a composite that’s lighter and stronger than steel or carbon fiber has led McLaren to become an industry leader in graphene’s research and industrial application, making this partnership with Richard Mille an extremely fortuitous one for the Swiss watchmaker.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

However, the real secret to the watch’s crazy light weight relative to its level of complication lies in the movement, which weighs a scant 7 grams while housing a split-second chronograph, tourbillon, as well as power reserve and torque sensors (at 12:00 on the dial). This was accomplished through the skeletonization of critical movement pieces, along with the deployment of grade 5 titanium and TPT Carbon for the heavier baseplate and movement bridges. Furthermore, the transverse cage that supports the entire caliber is attached to the caseband and constructed from the same TPT Carbon as the case – an element directly inspired by the suspension structure of a McLaren-Honda F1 car at the root of the partnership. This unique design enables the movement to withstand the significant amounts of g-force that one might experience accelerating or decelerating in the hypothetical cockpit of a McLaren-Honda.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

The RM50-03 Calibre has a 70-hour power reserve which can be monitored by the indicator at 11 o’clock. It operates at 21,600vph, contains 43 jewels, and boasts a new split-seconds system which includes a new column wheel operating the different levels of the split-seconds function. The new column wheel takes the number of columns from 8 to 6, which now optimize function and durability. There is also a new clamp design and the replacement of the helical wheel with a blade on the split-seconds wheel. The result of all this for non-movement experts is a simultaneous reduction of friction and a halving of energy consumption by the chronograph.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Despite the technological advances found in the case and movement design, many components in the movement itself, like the dial, barrel-drum and minute wheels, exhibit hallmarks of haute horology, like classic hand-finishing techniques that bring an added layer of polish and contrast to the watch’s otherwise menacing exterior. Speaking of that exterior, eagle-eyed F1 fans might pick up on the hollowed-out chronograph pushers, designed to emulate the air intake ducts on the McLaren-Honda car, or how the oversized crown takes its cue from the racing competition wheel rims used by the British team.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Lastly, it’s definitely worth mentioning that not even the strap options were overlooked during the development process. The Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 we saw was on an elastic similar to another elastic band that sees countless wear and tear on a regular basis. Of course, I am referring to elastic bands in underwear. Obviously, the materials used here are more sophisticated, but the general principle remains the same. For a more automotive connection, they look designed to emulate an F1 cockpit seatbelt. However, the standard rubber strap is impressive in its own right. Flush with McLaren’s breakthroughs on graphene applications, Richard Mille gave the rubber strap the same treatment – injecting the nano-material directly into the elastomers, yielding a strap with greater elasticity and wear-resistance.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

It could probably be argued that the black rubber strap is going to be the more subdued of the two options – granted, we’ve grown familiar with Richard Mille’s 44mm x 49mm case dimensions, but we’d wager the Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 wears a touch larger than its 16mm thickness might belie on the softer textile option, likely due to all the color. Love it or hate it, it’s a signature of sorts when it comes to Richard Mille – that amplified wrist presence despite an otherwise ridiculously light weight – like a toy whose ownership puts you amongst the ranks of an ultra-exclusive club, but one that seems gradually less exclusive.

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 50-03 McLaren F1 Record-Setting Lightweight Watch For $1,000,000 Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille collectors looking to chase one of these bad boys down will have to do so at RM boutiques, where only 75 pieces will be available in total. Owners will also get a 1:5 scale model of the 2017 McLaren-Honda car driven by two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, which is a neat little bow on a package that costs 980,000 CHF before VAT. richardmille.com

About the Author

Zach is a writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His appreciation for watches stems around their ability to inherently tell a story about their wearer, simultaneously representing both a journey, and a particular moment in time. As a genuine gear nerd with an affinity for large bodies of water, he loves getting his hands dirty, sweaty, or submerged with anything that’s been purpose-built for the task at hand.

Follow Zach on Instagram Dagbert

Comments

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  • Shinytoys

    Now that’s a lot of parts to watch, both front and back ! The watch face kind of grabs you by the nose and says ” LOOK AT ME” !!!

    • And then you can’t unsee it. But it’s too late then.

  • BiLL

    But how accurate is it?

    • Not very. It splits face cards in blackjack and predicted Hillary by 80 electoral points.

      • BiLL

        HAHAHAHA.
        I’m waiting for that $50,000 quartz RM with a case made out of grapheme-injected narwhal.

  • DanW94

    When is lightweight too lightweight? When you don’t know that it’s actually on your wrist? Or you take it off and set it down and blows away in a gentle breeze? I appreciate his foray into groundbreaking lightweight, strong materials but I like a bit of heft on the wrist.

  • IG

    This is the ugliest $1,000,000 thing I’ve ever seen.

    • srs144

      Don’t worry, RM will introduce something soon enough to top this and you will say that it is is the ugliest $1.2mm thing you have ever seen.

  • IanE

    What an ugly object to put on one’s wrist. It may be great horology, but I cannot think of anything else positive to say.

  • BrJean

    I’m looking for a way to spend $1000000. Buy this RM or Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600… What a difficult choice!

    • IG

      This dilemma must be excruciating!

    • Roy Andersen

      Buy the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 and a G-Shock

  • Lawrence

    But the Bubba Watson looks better and it is 10 times cheaper

  • Crazy cool. And to make it that light while still throwing in a torque and reserve indicator is outstanding.

  • BiLL

    And it’s on a jock strap.

    • WINKS

      More like a joke strap.

    • Berndt Norten

      Like static cling.

      • BiLL

        Graph TPT is actually just made of drier sheets.

      • DanW94

        I couldn’t get it off my jock……RM’s like static cling, but that’s what happens when rubber straps start slappin’ to the Wild Thing….

        • Berndt Norten

          You a playa!!

          • DanW94

            Remember we’re on the Internet, we’re all Playa’s : )

        • Berndt Norten

          But… when it was over did you…?

    • Marius

      Actually, the strap is on a jock watch.

  • It seems the default F1 paddock watch. I mean, I’d sure like to be a Briatore-like clown character with enough money to have this watch and two or three bimbos at my side while walking on the grid and saying hi to Martin Brundle and making fun of his peasant Richard Mille… but man these watches are even uglier than Hublot!

  • Beefalope

    Crap.

  • Marius

    Just for clarification, is this watch really God’s gift to mankind and humanity? I don’t think I have ever read a more ridiculously laudative article than this. Sure, I understand that during the SIHH you mostly copy/paste manufacturer’s press releases, but still, this “article” repeats “revolutionary” “cutting edge” and “pushing the boundaries” so many times you would think that this watch is the greatest invention of all human history.

    What’s more, I don’t really understand what the big deal is all about.

    1. The case and dial design are quite hideous.
    2. What’s the point of a tourbillon when you can’t even see it? I have never seen a more invisible visible tourbillon. Please tell me where it is?
    3.The RM50-03 Calibre is in reality a Renaud&Papi caliber initially created for the Audemars Piguet Schumacher LapTimer. À propos Schumacher LapTimer — I find it to be a much more attractive watch, and it “only” costs $250,000. Sure, it doesn’t feature a tourbillon — not that it really matters since the RM has one, but it’s utterly invisible –, but it does feature the time-lap function that is much more interesting and a horological first.
    4. Who is buying all these $1 million watches? Now I know that you have all seen Archie Luxury`s new friend — the Humble Billionaire. However, please keep in mind that the even the Humble Billionaire has certain limits. He will buy one watch and that’s it. After all, that’s why they call him the Humble Billionaire.

  • Pete L

    I am sure it is a technical tour-de-force but not for me. For that money I would rather have an actual McLaren (and the house with the garage to park it in!) but each to there own.

  • SuperStrapper

    If someone told me I was going to pay a million bucks for plastic and spandex I would assume that I’d be getting a yoga studio with a class in progress.

    • Lincolnshire Poacher

      Snort, chortle.

    • DanW94

      Make sure you stick around and watch the downward dog, it’s totally worth it…..

    • But will probably only be $237,000 on Jomashop.

  • Shane Kleinpeter

    A McLaren 650S starts at $265,000 and is by far the nicest car that I have had the pleasure of driving. How RM justifies $1M for this is beyond rationalization. Looks aside (it’s not for me, but I can see the appeal), I just don’t get it when I could buy 3 supercars for the same money. But I guess the folks buying these already have a garage full of those…

    • Yeah, I rather have 3+ McLaren cars instead of this watch.

  • Marius

    According to this article: “Richard Mille gave the rubber strap the same treatment – injecting the nano-material directly into the elastomers, yielding a strap with greater elasticity and wear-resistance.”

    WTF!?

  • Svetoslav Popov

    What a nonsense!

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    Beyond a certain level of price ridiculousness, I’m not interested. It can be less about horological brilliance like that VC grand compo’, and just “I’m considerably richer than yow” (H Enfield).

  • Shawn Lavigne

    for the price, instead of a scale model car, i’d rather they throw in a matching color honda fit.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    No taste, but lots of money? Shutter shades are not ridiculous enough and to much 2013? The Aventador doesn`t make you a douche enough? So this is for you. Few days after purchase:
    “It doesn`t run as accurate as my pink G-Shock. And I left it in the drawer for a week and now it stopped completely.”

    • SuperStrapper

      Don’t drag g shock into this.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        I simply had to. It is important for the credibility of the example. I had to compare the pragmatically and technically best available watch in a ridiculous ad inapropriate version to this “timepiece”. I had no choice. But I`m a fa of the G-Shock as well. I own two.

        • I suspect he did not want the fine G-Shock name brought down to the level of this watch. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T what a G-Shock means to me…” (with apologies to Aretha Franklin)

        • Gokart Mozart

          The G shocks are about the only watches uglier than this. – Sorry.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            No.

          • Gokart Mozart

            I realise after a nuclear war the only thing still alive will be G-Shocks but they do look like really bad, like the bargain basement ebay stuff. I appreciate they are very tough but aesthetically they leave alot to be desired.

            I thought about getting a baby G for my 7 year old daughter because at least she won’t break it , but she said no, she did not like it.

            Unfortunately I could not afford what she wanted. This is her favourite watch.

            http://quillandpad.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Jaquet-Froz_Charming_Bird_face.jpg

  • dhdol

    Every time I say “That’s the grossest piece of crap I’ve ever seen,” someone up’s the ante.

    • Omegaboy

      You must admit, though, that it’s pretty amazing that someone can clean out the bottom of an odds-and-ends drawer, cram it all in cheezy plastic case, and get it to tell time. I guess what’s more amazing is that there’s an idiot or two waiting at the door with a suitcase of cash, salivating and anxious to hand it over to RM.

      • Rob Minervini

        There is one born very day!

  • Yanko

    So, what’s the difference between Roger Dubuis” watch from the post of yesterday and this one? How is it possible that we still tolerate display of such ugliness? ABLOGTOWATCH – we love you guys for your professionalism, but gives us a break please. Enough is enough.

    • Yeah but this fugliness is news worthy. Can you really sleep without knowing how much ugliness your million dollars could have gone towards? Heck, you might have slipped up and spend your ugly budget on the Roger Dubois is you remain ignorant of this watch’s existence.

  • The Fractious Boogur T. Wang

    velcro?

    • BiLL

      Not even. No closing mechanism. It’s just a stretchy wristband.

      • Omegaboy

        A recycled G string.

  • smoothsweeper

    Why in god’s name is this 1 million dollars

  • Shawn Lavigne

    stop the pop-up.

  • Seems like you are getting (by weight) almost nothing. For those who believe in getting their money’s worth, you need poundage. We need to see the world’s heaviest watch for $300, not the lightest for a million bucks. To prove the point, compare the wrist presence in this comparison photo on the wrists of a young Ariel Adams (who from any early age was not afraid to double wrist it). The Richard Mille looks truly wimpy in comparison. Case closed. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ae348ff7105a9656e7603efd470bac492f064113c0abf17e2c7d3ad0f1a1273.jpg

    • BiLL

      Oh my God, Ariel was in the movie ‘Hook’?
      Did he play Rufio?

  • Jerry Davis

    I have seen RM watches I like. This one is a mess.

  • Awesome materials, expertise and engineering in one of the ugliest timepieces I have ever had the misfortune of seeing. I’m also not entirely sure it is worth a cool million. There are better and more ostentatious, not to mention cheaper ways to say “move over poor dude, passing thru”. Like an actual McLaren, or a Rolls or a blinged up Humvee with golden rotary hubcaps, all of which look classier than this watch.

  • Beauty is only skin deep while ugly is to the skeleton movement.

  • daveyah2002

    Looks like a box of old watch parts you’d find on an amateur watchmakers bench.

  • Frits van der Veer

    I would wear is if it would be in the 10k dollar range.
    The current price reflects that it took 2-3 man-year to built it (150k/m). The watch does not look like that at all..

  • wallydog2

    Really?

  • Ian john horwood

    Even if i had that expenditure to buy it, i wouldnt waste it on any of their watches , there all a completely hidious all of them, and not much good at telling the time , which is what watches are suppose to do .

  • Ian john horwood

    Prefer my grand seiko chronograph every day of the week compared to that piece of bin fodder

  • Ulysses31

    Someday, a watch will be designed that is as light as this without being eye-wateringly hideous. Until that day comes, we wait and hope.

  • JF Schnell

    Everything related to the engineering of this watch is fantastic. Skeleton movement, design, and so on. What really wouldn’t make me buying it…. well the price and still find it hard to see time through RM watches. Need something to contrast with the rest. First thing I want to see is time then ok the beauty of the movement… On a watch like this make the hands also shine.

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