Dark Desire: Revisiting the Richard Mille RM 07-01 Intergalactic Collection
Last month, Richard Mille sparked much joy with the RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley. Its candy-colored carapace and emoji-faced dial took us to our horological happy place.
While last month’s release brought smiles to the faces of enthusiasts all around the world (who couldn’t be charmed by its candy-colored carapace?), diamonds charm us in an entirely different way. And while it launched last fall, the RM 07-01 Intergalactic collection – a quartet of gem-set watches – is the perfect way to ring in the New Year.
In the Sky With Diamonds
According to Richard Mille, the RM 07-01 Intergalactic collection is an invitation to embark on a journey through time and space, back to the moment when stars first appeared in the night sky.
It’s certainly not the first time Richard Mille has dazzled us with diamonds (I still dream about 2017’s RM 07-01 in gem-set black ceramic). But these editions are different in their use of materials (carbon) and gem setting technique (rose gold prongs). This innovative combination helps tell the tale of a time in a brand new way.
The collection is comprised of four pieces – the Bright Night, the Starry Night, the Dark Night, and the Misty Night – each featuring carbon TPT cases set with diamonds which are secured by red-gold prongs.
“It all started with the vision of an explosion of stars taking place in the black darkness. We wanted to rethink our approach to gem-setting as a way of bringing the elements together in an intense way,” says Cécile Guenat, Richard Mille’s Creative and Development Director.
While they share a basic black background, each of these four pieces has its own distinct qualities. The RM 07-01 Dark Night, for example, is designed as an expression of the creation of the constellations. The rose gold prongs not only represent Richard Mille’s gem-setting acumen, but their warm, polished glow also adds an element of connectivity, a reminder of how the ancients looked at the stars in the sky to tell stories about gods and how our universe came to be.
As time progressed, our forebearers used the stars to navigate the world. Contrasted against the matte black textures found on the case, dial, and bracelet, the diamonds shine and catch the eye on the RM 07-01 Starry Night, symbolizing a sense of purpose and direction.
The RM 07-01 Bright Night features a case band crafted in micro-blasted 5N red gold, which has a more glamorous feel (and a different take on the meaning of the word star).
And finally, the RM 07-01 Misty Night is decorated with 5N red-gold pillars, presenting a more wistful meditation on the firmament and future.
What’s novel is the use of prongs as part of the storytelling aspect of the collection. “Using prongs as decorative elements is an aesthetic approach that progressively highlights this explosion of light,” says Guenat.
Gem-setting is a tricky proposition at the best of times. In watchmaking, it’s extremely difficult to find a way to mount diamonds in a way that allows light to hit the facets and make the stones sparkle. Another challenge is making sure the diamonds are secured without getting in the way of a gemstone's natural brilliance.
By using carbon TPT, the artisans at Richard Mille gave themselves a third challenge. Unlike gold, which allows the craftsman to shape the prongs to secure the diamonds, the hardness of carbon TPT means the gem setter must use diamond-bit milling tools to machine the settings. Using polished 5N red-gold prongs not only solved an engineering issue but also presented an opportunity to create a new aesthetic innovation, allowing stones of various sizes to be handset into the case.
What’s Your Sign?
Each timepiece in the Intergalactic collection features its own, idiosyncratic pattern of diamonds on the dial and the front and sides of the case. The moiré effect of the carbon TPT makes each piece feel even more personalized.
While the velvety matte finish promotes a feeling of warmth and softness (the collection is a tactile delight as well as a visual one), carbon TPT is a very robust material, providing optimal protection for the mechanism.
The pieces in this quartet all move to the beat of the in-house CRMA2 calibre, a skeletonized automatic movement in grade 5 titanium with hours, minutes, and a variable geometry rotor. Combined with the carbon TPT, titanium makes this 31.40 x 45.66 x 11.85mm watch light and wearable.
Pricing and Availability
The Richard Mille RM 07-01 Intergalactic collection is available now. The Bright Night is priced at $243,000, the Dark Night at $188,00, the Misty Night at $243,000, and the Starry Night with its carbon TPT bracelet at $283,000. For more information please visit Richard Mille’s website.
(Images © Richard Mille)