Swiss watchmaking giant Richard Mille and British manufacturer of luxury high-end sports cars McLaren Automotive introduced their first jointly commissioned timepiece, the RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph, at the Geneva International Motor Show. Unveiled at a reception hosted by McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt and Richard Mille CEO Richard Mille, the exclusive wristwatches are limited to only 500 pieces globally, prioritised for McLaren Ultimate Series clients.
Having announced a 10-year partnership in 2016, Richard Mille released the RM 50-03 as a tribute to McLaren’s Formula One team earlier in 2017. The exclusive watch features graphene—an industrial nano-material known for its high durability and robustness—as utilised by McLaren in its Formula One cars. The RM 50-03 has since taken the title of the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph.
Citing speed, racing against the clock, spectacular performance, technology, and aesthetics, as well as passion for design as their mutual interests, both CEOs share a fondness for the racing cars of the 1960s and focus on reducing weight, translating these aspects into their respective productions. Flewitt regards the newly announced McLaren P15 car, weighing less than 1,200kg as “almost unbelievable”, comparing it to the lightest watches in the world as produced by Richard Mille.
Both brands have strictly defined objectives, taking advantage of rigorous scientific research and complex engineering systems while incorporating these aspects into their latest designs. Sustainability and durability are also instilled in their creations. “We make watches you can wear for any occasion, just as McLaren creates cars that can be driven on a daily basis. We don’t do watches to put in a safe, waiting for the next generation,” said Richard Mille.
Richard Mille, a relatively newcomer to the watchmaking world, started manufacturing its timepieces in 2001 and made a name for itself as one of the most prominent players in the industry. Over the years, the brand has endeavoured to apply the techniques and materials found in the most innovative sectors, such as the domain of the Formula One racing car, into the realm of watchmaking. Richard Mille watches are often dubbed as “the most expensive racing machines for the wrist”.
Whether it adorns the wrist of a world-class tennis player or a top driver at the pinnacle of motorsport, Richard Mille has established itself as the vanguard of horology, with its watches designed to be worn in the harshest of conditions. “We make cars and watches focused on extremes. Our partnership has grown over time and it felt natural simply because we share the same goal—the pursuit of perfection achieved through technical detail,” said McLaren Design Director Rob Melville.
The advent of the RM 11-03, however, marks the first partnership between Richard Mille and McLaren. A fraternised project of Melville and Richard Mille engineer Fabrice Namura, the RM 11-03 unifies their mutual interest in unique design, the use of avant-garde materials, and modern craftsmanship. Namura, mesmerised by the McLaren 720S as designed by Melville, endowed the RM 11-03 with curves that are both aesthetic and functional, similar to McLaren’s other range of luxury sports and super cars.
The case of the RM 11-03 McLaren is made from Carbon TPT, which enhances its mechanical performance. The extremely resistant lightweight case pays tribute to a colour synonymous with McLaren, with headlights echoing the design of the 720S. Bearing the McLaren logo, titanium inserts adorning the bezel are reminiscent of the Formula One car’s air intake snorkel. Meanwhile, the titanium crown is shaped like a McLaren lightweight wheel, and the specifically designed rubber strap bears the McLaren Speedmark logo. “There are so many similarities in the way we approach a problem, such as saving weight, reducing vibrational impact and resistance,” Melville added.