In 2021 Richard Mille and Ferrari joined forces to create a long-term partnership and bring together the need for excellence, precision, reliability and innovation from both brands.
Two brands with one common goal: uncompromising performance. The first creation born out of this partnership is the RM UP-01 Ferrari, an ultra-flat timepiece that pushes the boundaries of creativity, innovation and craftsmanship.
At just 1.75 millimetres thick, the RM UP-01 Ferrari constitutes a triumph of technical prowess and exemplifies a new approach to watch mechanics in which technicity more than ever dictates aesthetics. This watch was a result of many years of world, dozens of prototypes and more than 6,000 hours of development and laboratory testing to ensure that the brand was able to retain traditional architecture in which the movement is assembled within the case, rather than a construction in which the caseback doubles as a baseplate, in order to ensure under any circumstances total shock resistance.
“For such a project, it was necessary to set aside all the knowledge we had amassed over years of practice, and every conceivable standard of watchmaking,” explains Julien Boillat, Technical Director for Cases at Richard Mille. “This is precisely what we did throughout our collaboration with the laboratories of Audemars Piguet Le Locle. Shaving off those last hundredths of millimetres of depth was an extremely demanding and lengthy process.”
The RM UP-01 Ferrari features the best know-how of these two iconic brands, offering a combination of their ideas, understanding, respective developments and shared values. The choice of materials used to create this watch further expresses the partnership between Richard Mille and Ferrari. Much like Ferrari’s cars, this timepiece features porting mechanisms that are as elegant as they are immediately recognisable, contradicting current trends to create new aesthetical codes.
In order to meet the challenge of creating an ultra-flat watch with a traditional movement and superimposed gears and hands, there were many challenges that Richard Mille’s watchmakers faced. Richard Mille decided to distribute what could not be stacked over a broader surface area by creating a perfect symbiosis between the movement and case, each ensuring the necessary rigidity of the other. The RM UP-01 manual-winding movement with hours, minutes and function selector – capable of withstanding accelerations of more than 5,000 g’s – thus boasts a thickness of 1.18 millimetres, a weight of 2.82 grams, and a power reserve of 45 hours.
To ensure optimal functioning of the going train, the baseplate and skeletonised bridges are crafted of grade 5 titanium, to ensure perfect flatness without compromising on strength. The patented extra flat barrel is fitted with an extraordinarily fine hairspring and the architecture of the escapement was entirely redesigned. To reduce depth, the small plate of the balance and dart (guard pin) – two parts that prevent the anchor from slipping back during the free phase of the balance wheel’s movement – were eliminated. The new ultra-flat escapement replaced these ‘anti-reversal’ elements with an elongated fork with new horns, while the index was set aside in favour of a variable-inertia balance crafted in titanium alloy whose six weights allow for fine-tuned calibration of the regulating organ.
To deliver a watch this thin, it was also necessary to rethink the winding mechanism and eliminate the winding stem, whose minimum diameter of 1.5 millimetres precluded its inclusion in such a slim watch. In its place, the two crowns, one for function selection, and the other to utilise the selected function, have both been integrated into the case as movement wheels.
“Even in the realm of extreme flatness, we were determined to make a watch that met the same validation requirements as all our other models. In this quest for absolute flatness, we had to offer a watch that, far from being a ‘concept watch’, was up to the task of following a user’s daily life, whatever the circumstances,” concluded Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements at Richard Mille.
The case was created in titanium, chosen for its lightness and resistance. The two sapphire crystals, one over the time indicators whose hands are directly affixed to the wheels, the other positioned over the regulator (balance wheel-spring assembly) to showcase the movement’s operation, were also reduced in thickness to two-tenths of a millimetre with a diameter calculated to ensure their resistance during testing phases. The narrow tolerance range and extreme slenderness of each part required the focus to be particularly meticulous and checked at almost every stage of machining. It was therefore natural that the decision to produce and machine the case in-house in our movement department was the logical step to take for the RM UP-01 Ferrari.
These 150 limited-edition timepieces in the RM UP-01 Ferrari series combine innovation with performance, strength and aesthetics.