richard mille
Richard Mille. Photo: Courtesy

Leave it to Richard Mille to start the New Year with a new icon to be reckoned with. Reinventing the inimical barrel-like shape of a tonneau dial, the Swiss watchmaker’s latest RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat brings innovation to a timeless classic.

“The new timepiece is totally coherent with the existing collections on every level,” says Richard Mille, Founder and CEO of his namesake horlogerie maison. “It is the only tonneau-shaped timepiece I offer that is so sleek and flat—filling in yet another niche in my overall planning and concept for my collections.”

Sleek, is perhaps, an understatement when it comes to describing Mille’s latest reveal. While previous timepieces such as the RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur and the RM 26-02 Tourbillon Evil Eye boast elaborate designs and technicality, the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat redefines modern watchmaking. Consider the timepiece’s ultra-thin casing at just 7.75mm, extensive skeletonisation, and complex internal detail, all wrapped up in an exquisite timepiece. Says Mille, “There is no other automatic watch offering a curved tonneau shape and these elegant proportions with such movement features, skeletonisation and modern design, anywhere else in the market.”

richard mille
The RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat’s skeletal dial is reminiscent of an electrical circuit.

While he claims that modesty isn’t his best personality trait, the RM 67-01 certainly contradicts. It is subtle, but it possesses all the technical boldness you’d expect from a Richard Mille piece. As they say, great things come in small packages, and this is where its 3.6mm-thick calibre really shines.

Designed by the engineers in Les Breuleux, its baseplate and bridges were created with Grade 5 titanium (commonly used in aircrafts), and finished with a combination of black and grey electro-plasma treatment.

However, Richard Mille being the eccentric watchmaker, doesn’t just stop at mere innovation. The RM 67-01’s entire movement design features the use of involute profiles, deviating from the standard cycloidal-shaped teeth used in traditional watchmaking. Unless you’re an automobile mechanic, this feature would’ve gone right past your head—such profiles can be found in transmission of cars and other highly efficient motors.

“It’s also very practical and sophisticated,” Mille adds. “The use of Luminova as well as its platinum rotor are some of the key marvels to watch out for in the RM 67-01.”

It is no wonder, then, that it took almost six hours of pure machining time, not to mention countless weeks of preliminary preparations, to accommodate 68 different stamping operations required for the bezel, case band, and back bezel.

“When I was designing it, I realised that there was no watch in the collection that was tonneau-shaped and thin,” says Mille. “The RM 67-01 became the answer for many people who requested such a timepiece from me.”

And it’s not just the men. There are ladies, too, pining for this new icon in the house of Richard Mille. The chromatic finish and delicate proportions go perfectly with any ensemble, be it with a pair of jeans and heels, or even a work dress. “My goal has always been to offer everyone a place of interest in my collection, and there are quite a few people, both men and women, who prefer a thin watch to something larger or more sporty.”

And deliver, he did. Call it a stroke of sheer genius, but Mille managed to create a certain amount of depth within the limited space of the casing. Think of it as trying to fit an entire automobile’s engine into the size of a 50 cent coin, and then making it look like the Mariana Trench.

To achieve this, Mille’s signature skeletonisation is exalted by a new approach that carries the eyes from the edges of the bezel in three layers, to the central area’s hour and minute hands. But if you think that was it—think again. The numbers have been sculptured out of solid metal and mounted on two linked and rigid titanium rails attached directly to the movement.

Sounds like a handful to digest, but would you expect any less from horlogerie’s most visionary watchmaker?

By Charmaine Ho