Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough 

Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough: Robust and transparent

Graphic, technical and super chic, polo is a surprisingly violent sport. To avoid seeing any damage inflicted to the watch customarily worn by grand polo champion, Pablo Mac Donough, Richard Mille created an indestructible reference complete with a next-generation unbreakable crystal.

By Vincent Daveau

As Richard Mille himself once said during a presentation of this new type of all-terrain time-telling instrument, the RM 53-01 is the result of an encounter he had with the grand polo champion, Pablo Mac Donough. As the latter recalled, backed up by X-rays of his injuries, polo is a noble, technical and graphical sport, but also on rare occasions dangerous and extremely violent when the players come into contact. Having seen the long list of his multiple fractures, you could well imagine that he might retire from sport all together after a blow to the head. Not Mac Donough, though, who got straight back into the competition after his fall, with the very first Richard Mille purpose-built watch still firmly secured to his wrist.

Daring to reinvent the safety crystal

In its continued quest to optimise its creations, Richard Mille was eager to make an additional improvement to the watches he had designed for sportsmen engaged in practising high-risk sports, to enable them to see the movement through the crystal, as is possible with other models by the brand.

Except that, as everyone knows, however robust and (virtually) scratchproof it may be, the crystal can break on major impact. Often, the worst part is that when it breaks, the near-diamond-hard crystal can shatter into thousands of pieces, thereby entering the complicated movement within, which means not only changing the crystal, but also cleaning and then restoring the calibre in its entirety. To avoid experiencing this kind of problem, instead of fitting the RM 53-01 with a large, curved tonneau crystal, Richard Mille put his team to work on developing a new type of sapphire crystal.

The supremely talented watch designer, with a keen nose and natural flair for sniffing out and anticipating trends, thus offered to produce a crystal with a difference. Like a car's windscreen, if under extreme circumstances the crystal broke, it would not shatter into a million particles, but be preserved intact in the sense that it would remain hermetically sealed and in one piece. By integrating a transparent polyvinyl film between two sapphire crystals previously cut to shape, the solution of a "laminated" sapphire crystal had been found.

A combination of stable materials

This tremendous watchmaking first was in need of an ultra-stable case-middle, machined from a solid block of carbon TPT®. Thus the instrument is equipped with a non-deformable shell that is also tamper-resistant. The combination of this crystal and a highly rugged, durable material, meant that a solution was needed to protect the tourbillon-regulated movement in case of impact. To hold the calibre harmless against shockwaves, it is suspended by two ultra-fine 0.27 mm diameter steel cables attaching the case-middle to the main baseplate. This coherent whole is held taut by 10 tensioners and sits on a set of 10 nano-pulleys designed to guarantee an even distribution of tension and absorb shockwaves more efficiently.

The RM 53-01 Pablo Mac Donough is produced as part of an edition limited of just 30 pieces in carbon TPT. This novelty should delight not only Pablo Mac Donough, but also some of the more reckless amateurs, who can't imagine where they'd be without their favorite timepiece…

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