Prized for its ability to create some of the most jaw-dropping pieces of horological excellence around, Richard Mille has surged from being a relatively under-the-radar indie watchmaker into a blue-chip powerhouse that has joined the big boys with over a billion CHF a year in sales. Paramount to their success have been their distinctive designs, incredible watchmaking, and next-level engineering; all attributes that the RM016 wields in abundance.
When Richard Mille first brought out the RM016 in 2007, it was considered a technical breakthrough because for the very first time, it allowed the brand to tap into its adventurous and innovative spirit to explore several new design territories. The first being the fact that the RM016 was introduced in a rectangular case shape which was entirely different than its previous tonneau-shaped offerings. Second, this particular design was considered to be an “ultra-thin” model, thus laying the foundations for a more refined aesthetic approach we all still see as one of the primary pillars of the current modern offerings.
The RM016 we have on offer here today is a luxurious yet discreet 18-carat white gold variant, with a case that measures 49.8mm x 38mm. It was initially designed in response to early Richard Mille customers who wanted a watch that could easily slip under a shirt cuff. While the tonneau-shaped Richard Mille offerings at the time were ergonomically and technically impressive, they were just simply too thick. The case features a thickness of 8.4mm and a gradual curvature towards the ends of the case which allowed the watch to sit and wrap around a wrist comfortably. It also comes on a proprietary vulcanised rubber strap that was specially designed to match not just the width of the case, but also the flanks on the side of the case, which I think is a very nice touch that greatly enhanced the wearability of the watch as a whole.
From afar, many may think that the RM016 is a simple time-only watch, but in my opinion, this is where it gets interesting. If you look closer, you will find a date aperture that is tastefully integrated into the number “7”. Through the transparent dial, you will discover a beautiful 32-jeweled, self-winding, Vaucher based Cal. RMAS7 looking right back at you. The caliber has been dramatically modified with grade 5 titanium plates and bridges. It also features an impressive 55-hour power reserve, thanks to its twin barrel construction. Time setting can be operated via its cabochon crown at 3 o ‘clock, which I think is an alluring design element featuring contrasting finishes and a cone shaped tip resembling a turbine.
In my mind, the RM016 may seem like a greatly underappreciated model to many, mostly due to its unconventional case shape that is the complete opposite of what many consider Richard Mille to be. However, to hardcore RM collectors and enthusiasts, there is still merit in that regard, as the RM016 was designed with a specific agenda to promote overall wearability. I am a firm believer that the concept of luxury should not only be comprised of branding, rarity, technicality and materiality, but it should also include overall wearability. This has been especially true with the RM016 in this instance. To conclude, I think the design of the RM016 has definitely stood the test of time and can effortlessly fit into any serious collector’s daily rotation.