Richard Mille: RM 65-01, Automatic Split-Seconds Chronograph

The Richard Mille RM 65-01 Automatic Split-Seconds Chronograph: This masterpiece took five years to develop, marking a dual achievement. It is not only the most complex automatic winding watch ever produced in our workshops but also a model available beyond a limited series. This high-frequency timepiece features innovative advancements, including a new gearcase with a function selector in the crown and a rapid winding button on the caliber—a first of its kind.

Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movement, revealed, “Given its technical edge, which translates to a movement with 480 components, we knew from the beginning of its construction that the development phases would be long and complex because all the “commands” had to be scrupulously checked. But the advantage is that once stabilised, this movement is magnificently consistent. This split-seconds chronograph was subject to a battery of merciless tests that had to demonstrate its correct function in any situation.”

This chronograph, designed for the 21st century, features a high-frequency balance with variable inertia—operating at 5 Hz or 36,000 vibrations per hour—ensuring exceptional timekeeping accuracy over extended periods and the ability to measure time to 1/10th of a second. It’s a true racing engine, equipped with a split-second hand for calculating intermediate times.

The integrated movement ensures exceptional consistency with its 6-column wheel architecture and vertical coupling. Acting like a mechanical brain, this intricate piece orchestrates the controls and is visible through the base. It’s a mechanical marvel, built on a grade 5 titanium chassis with grade 5 titanium bridges. It draws energy from a fast-rotating barrel that maintains optimal torque for energy transmission throughout its 60-hour power reserve. Additionally, the automatic winding of the barrel ensures the watch sustains optimal torque while being worn on the wrist.

The chronograph underwent rigorous testing to prove its ability to perform under any circumstances. These tests included shock and drop simulations, accelerated ageing phases equivalent to 10 years for all functions, waterproof tests, and trials for resistance to magnetic fields.

In another milestone, Richard Mille introduced its first in-house patented rapid-winding mechanism, activated by a pusher at 8 o’clock. With just 125 presses, the barrel is fully wound and ready to time your next event. This highly practical feature, described as ‘very playful’ by Richard Mille’s engineers, was challenging to develop due to the high levels of torque transfer involved. During ageing tests, the mechanism was activated thousands of times to ensure its durability.

The model was further enhanced with a new gearbox, designed as a function selector within the crown. This system allows for easy switching between ‘traditional’ winding (W), semi-instantaneous date adjustment (D), and time setting (H) with a simple press of the crown.

Quartz TPT® and Carbon TPT®, known for their distinctive damascene surfaces, are composed of layers of parallel filaments derived from separating silica and carbon threads. Quartz fibers are typically used in high-performance applications due to their resistance to high temperatures, strength, and transparency to electromagnetic waves. The fibers are aligned in layers no thicker than 45 microns and saturated in a specially developed grey resin for Richard Mille.

These layers are then stacked using an automatic positioning system that changes the fiber orientation by 45° between each layer. After being heated to 120°C and subjected to 6 bars of pressure, they are machined on a CNC machine at Richard Mille’s manufacturing facilities. Carbon TPT® is produced through an identical process, but using carbon threads. The result? A magnificent masterpiece.