Since its inception in early 2016, the partnership between Richard Mille and McLaren, British constructor of both ultra-high performance roadgoing hypercars and Formula 1 racing machines, has produced only two watch designs. Both of these models have been among Richard Mille’s most complex and technically advanced, however, setting the bar for any third collaborative watch extremely high. Richard Mille has recently announced a third McLaren-themed watch, this time evoking the automaker’s refined 250-mile-per-hour Speedtail grand tourer, and rather than attempting to top the ultra-lightweight sporting concepts of its previous McLaren collaborations this new model instead follows the ethos of the car that inspired it. The new limited edition Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail abandons the uncompromising high-performance philosophy of previous McLaren tie-ins in favor of a more luxurious, streamlined approach that still provides truly world-class mechanical intricacy and design.
While the case of the Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail follows the brand’s signature sandwich-style construction, the tonneau form is extensively reworked with numerous touches referencing the namesake hypercar. The overall asymmetrical tapering tonneau shape evokes the flowing teardrop shape of the car from above, especially around the mid-mounted engine compartment and rear window. The titanium bezel features a series of four notches styled to match the Speedtail’s hood-mounted air intakes, and the layered Carbon TPT pushers at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock mimic the air vents located ahead of the front wheels. Other Speedtail-inspired touches include the 3 o’clock McLaren signed crown, which echoes the style of the Speedtail’s driving mode selector. Richard Mille claims the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is the brand’s most exquisitely finished case yet, with a wide variety of brushed, matte, and mirror-polished surfaces across the titanium case elements, along with multiple patterns and surfaces for the layered carbon fiber Carbon TPT central case. Richard Mille’s design team spent over 2,800 hours creating the shape of this 69-piece case, but perhaps the most complex piece of all is the sapphire crystal. To seamlessly follow the curvature, taper, and decreasing thickness of the bezel, the custom crystal features what the brand dubs “Triple Contour” curvature. Despite the months of engineering and intensive finishing, however, water-resistance remains an Achilles heel for Richard Mille with this new model. The RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is rated for a mere 50 meters.
As with the case, the skeleton dial of the Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is all about complexity in finishing and design. As an example, the sporty forward-swept Arabic numerals are not actually applied but are instead milled from the surrounding black PVD titanium bridges. Also, like the case, much of the dial echoes the style of the McLaren Speedtail, most notably around 6 o’clock where the thin hour index is finished in McLaren’s signature papaya orange with a surrounding brushed bridge that emulates the look of the Speedtail’s engine cover intakes and distinctive high-mounted third brake light strip. Despite the complexity of this skeleton design, the overall look remains balanced, with each of the four complications taking up a quadrant of the dial space at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock. The 12 o’clock big date display, with its exposed date wheels and red highlights, forms a natural focal point at the top of the dial, anchoring visual attention on the design’s widest point. This date display can be instantly adjusted with the use of the 8 o’clock pusher. The 3 o’clock display offers the current position of the 4 o’clock crown function selector, which can cycle the crown between winding (W), time setting (H), and neutral positions without pulling it out of position. The 6 o’clock tourbillon escapement may be the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail’s most interesting stylistic choice. Whereas nearly every modern tourbillon-equipped watch is designed to draw the wearer’s attention toward this complex and expensive piece of horology, here the tourbillon is almost buried under a bridge and an extensive black tourbillon cage. This less ostentatious approach has a tendency to bury the tourbillon somewhat in initial images, but some may find this execution subtler and more sophisticated. Richard Mille takes an intuitive, graphic approach to the 9 o’clock power reserve indicator, but like most things in this design, the execution is more complex than it appears. The indicator itself uses an intricate planetary differential system to more the power reserve hand, adding further complexity to an already detailed movement.
To put into perspective just how complex the in-house Calibre CRMT4 automatic tourbillon movement inside the Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is, the brand spent over 8,600 hours in development for the 603-piece final product. Richard Mille pushes the limits of its finishing ability with the Calibre CRMT4, with hand-polished anglage, stepped beveling, micro-blasted sinks and milled sections, PVD black titanium bridge segments, and an electro-plasma treated baseplate. Even the wheels are decorated in the brand’s futuristic style, with minuscule cutouts of McLaren’s swooping logo. The red gold and platinum winding rotor is a visual highlight, with a variable geometry weight system that allows the winding speed to be custom-tailored to the wearer’s level of physical activity. The Calibre CRMT4 also uses a fast-rotating mainspring barrel with a revolution period of 5 hours, reducing internal mainspring adhesion and improving the regularity of torque delivery. The Calibre CRMT4’s other major performance achievement is its immense shock resistance, with Richard Mille claiming the movement can withstand impacts of 5000 G. General performance is decent, with a 50-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
Richard Mille offers the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail on a variety of straps, including integrated straps in alligator leather and Velcro-fitted ballistic materials, but the clear flagship strap is its asymmetrical integrated black rubber strap. Highly sculptural and with a number of callbacks to the McLaren Speedtail design, this rubber strap also uses colored rubber over-molding to continue the dial’s papaya orange character line around the wrist.
By extending its philosophy to include cutting-edge finishing and refinement alongside exotic mechanical innovation, the limited-edition Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is perhaps the most nuanced and complete product of the brand’s McLaren partnership to date. As with the car it references, only 106 examples of the Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail will be made.