Richard Mille RM 70-01: Haute chronologie for cyclists
There are upmarket watches for Formula One aficionados, so why not one for cycling enthusiasts? Watchmaker Richard Mille, in collaboration with former Formula One driver-turned-cycle racer Alain Prost, has come up with the RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost – a mechanical watch designed specifically with cyclists in mind that takes its cues from a blend of racing car and bicycle accents.
Making a dedicated cyclist's wristwatch shouldn't be all that surprising considering that cycling is a sport notable for specialized equipment for the enthusiast, including special titanium-framed bikes that cost more than my car, special shorts with seat pads built in, special socks, and even special shoes with special shoe covers. In this context, a special watch fits right in.
According to Richard Mille, the RM 70-01 is the latest watch designed with a particular sport in mind. In addition to Formula One, the company also created watches for polo and foot racing. In each case, it was a matter of combining specific features with a design that balances total volume with physical requirements to create a timepiece that is rugged enough to survive rough treatment, yet won't interfere with the wearer's movements.
Based on the original tonneau shape developed by the company, the asymmetric case and controls for the RM 70-01 are made to ride comfortably on the wrist thanks to its taut, curved lines and stay clear of the wearer's hand while in the characteristic downward handlebar-holding posture. For this reason, it's available only in a "lefty" version for the right wrist to keep the stem from brushing against the back of the hand and making the dial as legible as possible while riding.
But the centerpiece of the RM 70-01 is its mechanical mileage counter that's inspired by speedometer-equipped gear levers. Able to record distances of up to 99,999 km, (62,136 mi), or any other desired unit of measurement, a two o'clock pusher allows any of the five rollers to be engaged and adjusted individually using the 11 o'clock pusher. In this way, the wearer can preset any previous distance ridden and add to it manually over the course of a trip or a season.
Despite this, the mechanism is very compact thanks to having the tourbillon and barrel on the same axis. To prevent accidental overwinding, the RM 70-01's 32-jewel, 21,600 vph (3 Hz), manually-wound Calibre RM70-01 movement with a 70-hour power reserve has a torque limited crown and shock protection thanks to its KIF Elastor KE 160 B28 barrel shaft in nickel-free Chronifer steel alloy.
As to aesthetics, there are satin-finished bridges and hand-polished locking sections, sapphire-blasted milled sections, lapped and polished contact points, and burnished pivots. All this is sealed in a tripartite complex case made of a high-tech composite material called Carbon TPT.
The RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost is available in a limited edition of 30 units for US$815,500 each.