This Richard Mille Watch Is Basically an Airbus for Your Wrist

The crown apes a landing gear.

byMichael Frank| PUBLISHED Jan 28, 2016 4:56 PM
This Richard Mille Watch Is Basically an Airbus for Your Wrist

Ever wondered about the negative consequences of too much torque? You might guess there’s no such thing, but in the realm of luxury timepieces, excess twist is a thing. Wind too little, and the spring is too slack, and you might not get precise performance. Wind too much, and you could damage the watch. Hence, Richard Mille RM 50-02 ACJ Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph and its torque indicator readout, which displays the exact tension in the mainspring. Because you don’t want to damage a $1.05 million watch that’s got no less than 1,000 parts.

More overt than this hidden function is the watch bezel, and its color and shape. Look familiar? That’s because it’s designed to echo the window of an Airbus Corporate Jet, which partnered on the creation of the RM 50-02. That’s also partly why the frame of the case is made from titanium-aluminum alloy, the same material used in the turbine blades of said Airbuses.

Meanwhile, the bezel is set in a material called ATZ white ceramic. Mille says its hardness is second only to diamonds. This is attached using unique torq screws that, if eyeballed closely, reveal that each head’s drive is imperfectly aligned. This, too, is borrowed from aerospace, where a special driver fits more closely with the screw, and the material of the head is “relieved” as it's driven, so it retains greater structural integrity. Beyond these devilishly clever details, the bulk of the movement of the RM 50-02 ACJ Tourbillon is crafted in titanium, a notoriously difficult metal to cut and polish.

Finally, there’s another gauge, meant to echo a flight instrument. Pull the crown out (designed to look like aircraft landing gear, freakin’ cool) and the crown selection indicator shows whether you’re adjust Winding, Neutral, or Hands.

With all of these features, and in comparison to the $87 million sticker of an ACJ319 private jet that will doubtless depreciate, it’s possible the RM 50-02 is actually a wise investment. You know, if you can spare the loose change.