Introducing The New Richard Mille RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail
The Swiss watch brand’s stunning new timepiece takes inspiration from the British supercar maker’s teardrop-shaped, lightning-fast grand tourer.
It has been five years since Swiss watch brand Richard Mille began its partnership with the British Formula 1 team and supercar maker McLaren Automotive.
The first watches to emerge from the pairing were chronographs with a track-focused flavor. It started with 2017’s RM 50-03 Split Seconds Tourbillon developed with McLaren Racing, followed a year later by the RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph, which was unveiled at the same time as McLaren Automotive’s lap-time-slaying Senna hypercar.
Now, for their third joint venture – and what the brands are describing as their most ambitious collaboration to date – the pair have turned their gaze from the track to the road to create the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail.
As its name suggests, the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is inspired by McLaren’s three-seat grand touring hypercar, the Speedtail, launched in 2018 to much acclaim.
With its breathtaking and aerodynamic teardrop-shaped form, all-carbon fiber body, and 1,070-horsepower hybrid powertrain, the Speedtail covers 112 meters (367 feet) per second when traveling at its top speed of 250 mph, making it the fastest road car produced by the luxury automaker to date.
It is the streamlined shape of the RM 40-01’s Grade 5 titanium and Carbon TPT case that is the most obvious nod to the Speedtail. Not only is the watch’s bodywork markedly wider at 12 o'clock than it is at 6 o'clock, measuring in at 35.35mm at its widest between 3 and 9 o'clock, but the height of the case tapers downwards at 6 o’clock, echoing the Speedtail’s droplet profile.
There are also cut-outs at 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock based on the distinctive notches in the Speedtail’s hood, while the Carbon TPT pushers at 4 and 8 o’clock (more on those in a minute) recall the air outlets behind the car’s front wheels.
The crown design is inspired by the drive mode selector control inside the Speedtail’s cockpit and parts of the cockpit are also evoked by the highly polished edging of the entire case.
According to Richard Mille, the RM 40-01 features one of the highest levels of case decoration ever executed by the brand with mirror-polished, plain, and satinized finishes, all deployed for an eye-catching effect.
All in all, the complex design of the 69-part case took Richard Mille a staggering 2,800 hours spread over 18 months to perfect, with five prototypes created before the design was perfected.
Equally challenging to develop was the upper sapphire crystal featuring a “triple contour” to accommodate the decreasing thickness of the tapered bezel. The crystal design alone took 18 months to get right. But it was accomplished using grinding stones that gradually eroded the surface in order to give the crystal its precise geometry.
In keeping with the Speedtail spirit, the RM 40-01’s functions and displays were chosen to suit life on the road rather than the racetrack.
So rather than a chronograph complication, which is more appropriate for tracking lap times, the RM 40-01 boasts central hours and minutes – with the hour markers machined directly into the movement – a semi-instantaneous oversized date, and a 50-hour power reserve indicator driven by a planetary differential.
While the date is set via the pusher at 8 o’clock, the pusher at 4 o’clock allows the selection of neutral, winding, and hand-setting functions with a simple push in a manner similar to a car’s gearbox. An aperture at 3 o’clock indicates the function selected: N (Neutral), W (Winding), and H (Hand Setting).
Hyper Horological Engine
Powering the RM 40-01 is the in-house, automatic CRMT4 caliber with tourbillon escapement. Unsurprisingly, given the time invested in the case structure, the entirely new movement architecture for this 603-part, hyper-horological engine demanded a remarkable 8,600 hours of development, much of which went into finalizing the extreme level of detail that pays tribute to the Speedtail.
For a start, the skeletonized mainplate and bridges are made from ultra-light Grade 5 titanium, while some wheels have the McLaren logo that adorns the hood of the Speedtail machined onto them. The platinum and red gold winding rotor is also inspired by the car’s hood and the barrel-setting by its roof line.
The downward curve that the mechanism follows from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock recalls the brushed metal divider between the car's cockpit and its bodywork. Meanwhile, the orange line running from the lower part of the movement dial side mimics the vertical stoplight mounted in the Speedtail's rear screen.
As with the case, the movement finishing is also noteworthy, with a mix of radial, circular, and straight-grained finishes – as well as some polished exterior bevels – all of which provide visually pleasing texture and contrast.
Pricing and Availability
Priced at CHF 900,000, the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail is available as a 106-piece limited edition, mirroring the number of Speedtail hypercars built by McLaren Automotive.
It comes with an asymmetrical strap in Alligator Velcro, Ballistic Velcro, or alligator leather – each available in a variety of colors – as well as a black rubber strap featuring a “stop light” orange line.