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Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Thus far at SIHH 2018, no other watch has given me (and some others on the aBlogtoWatch team) more of a visceral response than the sexy and expensive new Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough watch. Ironically, neither the close-to-a-million-dollar price nor the wildly detailed and visible movement are responsible for the sense of “watch lust” I experienced. It also isn’t the RM53-01’s friendly color combination or modern, masculine look that are the main points of my focus. In truth, the RM53-01 is precisely the type of watch we expected from Richard Mille at the show.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by Ariel Adams

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

More interesting for me is that I have no particular familiarity or interest in the sport of polo – for which the Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough was conceived to survive. This is actually the second (and more interesting) polo watch Richard Mille produced in collaboration with the popular South American polo player. Mac Donough’s first watch by Richard Mille was also designed to survive impacts common in the aggressive equestrian sport. The first watch was almost entirely covered in titanium with only small windows for the time and a view of the tourbillon. For the RM53-01 it was a specific point by Richard himself that the movement be very visible. So how else can you protect against impacts while also allowing one to enjoy the movement? Richard Mille attempts to effectively answer this question in two ways.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The first way is to incorporate a version of their movement suspension cable system. Introduced in an earlier Richard Mille watch for tennis player Rafael Nadal, the movement suspension system uses a series of two tiny metal cables on 10 pulleys and is held tight by four “suspensioners” to suspend the mostly titanium manually-wound tourbillon-based movement. Thus, cables absorb a lot of the shock that the watch might experience if knocked around. Rather than physical shock going into the movement and likely breaking it, the cable system absorbs a good deal of dangerous vibrations. Seeing how cool the tiny cables are to view is another pleasure unto itself.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Second, for the first time Richard Mille has developed a watch with a laminated sapphire crystal. The concept is similar to how safety glass for cars works. There are two pieces of sapphire crystal, which are laminated together with a clear adhesive film. Just by looking at the RM53-01’s crystal you wouldn’t know anything is different about it – and yet, it’s perhaps one of the most durable, super expensive watches available.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Wearing the RM53-01 on your wrist confirms just how important weight (or the lack thereof) is for luxury timepieces today. Sure, the feeling of a heavy gold watch is still very much real, but when it comes to exotic sport watches consumers want performance. In many instances high performance sport watches benefit from being light. Not only are they hard to notice on your wrist, but for a demanding athlete, removing all extra weight can mean the difference between winning and losing. Richard Mille isn’t claiming record-setting lightness for the RM53-01 (they have other models for that), but I can tell you that despite the relatively large size of the watch, it has an extremely light touch and feels like almost nothing is on your wrist while wearing it.

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Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

It isn’t hard to admire the watch off your wrist either. Richard Mille again uses TPT carbon for the case material, which is a layered form of carbon that is durable and really good looking. The RM53-01 case is 44.5mm wide, 49.94mm tall (lug-to-lug) and 16.15mm thick (water-resistant to 50m). The complicated case design mixed with the interesting strap system (with the effective but ironically non-luxury Velcro closure system) makes for an apt frame to show off the symmetrical and visually engaging in-house movement.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Powering the watch is a manually-wound tourbillon-based movement which offers just the time. It operates at 3Hz and has about two days of power reserve. As I said above, most of the movement bridges are in titanium, and the design of the movement is excellent because Richard Mille went out of their way to make it symmetrical, as well as a bastion of fine details for us horological enthusiasts out there.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What sells the RM53-01 is its persistent following of Richard Mille’s core values that make modern luxury sports watches exciting and fresh. It is a very fun toy with a price that will leave most of us feeling as though no matter how good we have been, only very rich boys will get to sit down at Richard Mille’s table and share his creations.

Richard Mille RM53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Limited to only 30 pieces, Richard Mille will no doubt introduce the technology and materials from the RM53-01 into future timepieces. This includes not only the newly upgraded cable suspension system, but of course the laminated, layered “safety” sapphire crystals which are destined to have application in a lot more contexts than just polo games. Why polo for now? It’s a sport that rich patrons tend to follow, as well as a traditional way to evaluate how rugged a timepiece is. Remember that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was originally designed as timepiece to be worn while playing Polo. While Richard Mille is doing polo watches their way (i.e. they must contain a tourbillon), their efforts are easily distinguished when compared to the rest of the high-end sports watch pack. More so, the beauty is that unlike the previous Pablo Mac Donough watch, the RM53-01 is very versatile and doesn’t require an understanding of the sport to love its inviting blue and glistening dark gray case along with its fine details and intricate movement. Price for this mega cool limited edition piece of haute horology is $900,000 USDrichardmille.com

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  • benjameshodges

    I have a serious lust for this. On a black rubber strap though.

  • phacepalm

    I know there is a lot of hate for RM watches on this site, but I quite like them, especially this one. Their price is an entirely different matter that, yes, it’s beyond ridiculous

    • Jon Heinz

      Agreed and agreed.

  • IanE

    But … does a polo player ever actually check the time before hitting the ball or moving off to tackle the opposition (or whatever they do in polo)?!

    • Timing the length of a chukka perhaps?

      • IanE

        Hmm, had to look that one up – so you can tell which side of the tracks I come from!

        • I had to look up how to spell it, so I’m on the same side of the tracks as you.

          • egznyc

            And what’s WRONG with that?

          • Nothing. I buy sirloins at Costco.

          • egznyc

            Nothing wrong with Costco. I prefer filet mignon though ;-).

          • Me too. That’s what I used to get at Costco but the price per lb has gotten too crazy.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            * Waves from the opposite platform.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Is that the same as Marco Polo?

      • IG

        And his brother, Water Polo.

      • Jay Wick

        What have you done to Gene?!

        • Raymond Wilkie

          He’s in the cellar with Bill and Berndt.

          • Jay Wick

            Gimp’s sleeping?

          • DanW94

            Berndt puts the lotion in the basket…

          • egznyc

            I wish I knew what you were talking about. I suspect I’d think it was rather amusing … if only I could follow you.

          • DanW94

            Silence of the Lambs – Buffalo Bill has the girl locked in a well in the cellar. He lowers a bottle of lotion in a basket so she can soften her skin so he can eventually skin her.

          • egznyc

            It has been a long time – but that brings back the memory. Great movie – and not nearly the most disturbing of films out there (think: Clockwork Orange, Deliverance, etc.).

        • DanW94

          Cause you ain’t missing Bill
          Since he’s been gone away
          You ain’t missing Bill
          No matter what you might say
          (You’re just lying to yourself)

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Is that you John?

          • Jay Wick

            John. I’m only dancing.

          • Jay Wick

            I’ve been walking Central Park
            Blogging after dark
            Raymond thinks I’m craaaazy

          • Raymond Wilkie

            What’s the matter with you boy?

  • Suspension system is very cool and for an RM watch is mostly avoids the “bag of parts fell on the floor” look. I appreciate that is has a laminated crystal, but really, 16.15 mm thick for a 2 hand watch?

    • IG

      If you have tree trunk wrists like Raymond, thickness is not a problem.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I wouldn’t be seen dead with this monstrosity on.

  • Gin Tub

    In the words of Homer Simpson velcro Woo Hoo !!!! ……….. 900k for a Velcro strap genius

    • But it would be even more with a Rubber B strap, ha ha

    • PollyO

      Surely he is just sitting in a room somewhere, wearing a $60 Casio, thinking “ha ha ha…how much more will these fucking hideous people pay?”

  • Yan Fin

    Skeletons showing up … from the snow… is it spring already?

    • Jay Wick

      January is the cruelest month
      Breeding skeletons from the snow
      Watching Archie, laying low
      Playing polo
      Tally ho!

  • Mike Potts

    My immediate reaction was WTF! But after a short time, i have to say, I really started to fall in love with this … how very odd!

  • BNABOD

    Suspension cables in metal ?? Hum doesn’t metal carry vibrations ?? There is a reason vibration dampers on all things competitive like skis, tennis rackets are pretty much rubber to dissipate vibration. So I am not getting it here w the metal suspension???
    Furthermore this has got to be the ugliest case and might I say crown I have encountered in something in the mil range. There is a certain fanatic absurdity about RM but of course the horology kings and queens of the internet will bow to RM…but I don’t get it

    • Omegaboy

      It hertz to think about it.

    • Jon Heinz

      There seem to be little tensioners that keep it all at a certain tension… extremely trick, but again that price, LOL.

      • BNABOD

        don’t see how that would make a lick of a difference swinging a tennis racket or hammering things w a polo stick or whatever it is called. granted anyone doing these things w a 900G watch would be rather radical.

    • egznyc

      If RM – or anyone else – were audacious enough to create an entire bridge in the watch out of these cables, you’d end up with a suspension bridge, right? 😉

      • BNABOD

        I suppose so but I am no civil engineeer so me think when looking at passive isolation systems a spring, a rubber pad …should be there to allow shock absorption. may be the suspension part dissipates vibrations but I don’t think that is how it works and forces are huge when someone swings a tennis racket like Nadal.

        • egznyc

          I am also no civil engineer. I was just being cheeky. But to be serious, I suspect that using rubber is not a good long-term solution as it may be too flexible and also not as long-lasting as steel, which is certainly elastic – more than we often realize. It will bend before it breaks and expands or contracts based on changes in temperature.

  • DanW94

    I actually like the suspension cable design. It’s an interesting visual. Made me think of that UN deck watch that used a series of wires and cables even if they serve totally different purposes (RM to suspend the movement and UN as a pulley to move the hand). The polo tie-in is a joke just like the majority of the watch/sports collaborations out there. Price – why bother even talking about it….

    • egznyc

      Yeah – this thing is hard enough to read in the best of circumstances. There’s no way a polo player could figure out the time, in time to avoid falling off his horse or losing track of the ball.

  • Jon Heinz

    Only a Lotto hit would do it, but I would do it. Either this or I’m still a fan of the Bubba Watson edition. The only one I will ever afford will likely be that smaller tonneau, can’t remember exactly which one…they go around 50k on the pre-owned circuit.

    • Jon Heinz

      RM010; that’s it.

  • Thomas

    What an illegible excuse for a modernized pimp-bracelet

    • egznyc

      Well this is a high-tech pimping…

  • Sam Soul

    That was close…
    A RM watch that doesn’t look like a parrot on a wrist, and offers a legibility reduced to $900,000 USD.

  • Richard Baptist

    I like the suspension system, that’s about it. If I had 900k to blow on watches, I think I could do better, much better.

    • Yeah, you could have a helluva collection of otherwise expensive watches for the 900 large.

      • Richard Baptist

        Yep, I can’t fathom where I’m that rich, that factoring the alternatives, I would still go ahead and buy this watch.

        • IG

          Maybe under the influence?

          • Richard Baptist

            lol

    • Sheez Gagoo

      TAG Heuer did that a few years ago for much less.
      http://people.timezone.com/jmerino/bas14tagv4c.jpg

      • Greg Williams

        The TAG is a very different movement. It is belt driven instead of spring driven (I think, I do not remember exactly now, maybe it is belts instead of gears) but it is not suspended from the case. In any case it is belts, not cables and they are part of the movement, not a suspension system for the movement.

        • Sheez Gagoo

          Ok, accepted.

        • egznyc

          So: belts and suspenders.

          • Greg Williams

            Yes, but at least not on the same watch. That would be redundant, and a fashion disaster.

        • Sheez Gagoo

          Got it wrong. I thought the cables were for transmission but they are for shock absorbing. Mea Culpa.

  • SuperStrapper

    > a million dollars
    > aircraft cable

    Pick one.

    Seriously though, cool implementation for sure. Shame it’s ugly af and looks closer to a g shock than anything else.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      That’s an awful thing to say about a watch.

      • IG

        Only thing’s worse to say is “Its like a Seiko”.

        • Raymond Wilkie

          Now you’re just winding me up 🙂

  • joe Shmoe

    i’m having a very hard time seeing the 900k.

    • Timothy Sou

      Then this watch isn’t for you

  • Yanko

    Robert Mueller must summon Richard Mielle with a subpoena and find out what is going on. 900K for a bundle of watch parts and nylon strap?

  • Raymond Wilkie

    NINE OH FIVE. 🙂

  • Philip Beresford

    Im not usually an RM fan, but I like this one. It just looks cool

    • Joe

      Agreed. Although legibility could be improved.
      I’d like to see what RM can do for swimmers/divers without using their huge, circular case.

  • ProJ

    For 900k I can have a list of ‘grails’ and have enough money left for repair cost in case every single movement of them breaks because of you know, extreme ‘vibrations.’

  • spiceballs

    Megacool for megabucks.

  • Greg Dutton

    RM: For 2018 I’m going to make not-hideous watches at not-outrageous prices.

    RM 10 minutes later: Man, I am bad a keeping new year’s resolutions.

  • R Ramki

    Why, because he can and it does sell. He has cornered a super niche high end sports market like none other and will continue belting these out. Trademark hideous design continues for 2018 though.

    • Debashish

      Spot on Ramki.

  • Debashish

    I guess, some ultra-wealthy persons are going to acquire this piece just to show off and nothing else. But then ultra-wealthy people are different from ordinary folks.

  • David Rolls

    I hate Richard Mille watches, and this just makes me hate them more….

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