Last week, Richard Mille copy broke the world record for the thinnest mechanical watch in the world…surprise!
Traditionally, there has been a competition between the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept and the Bulgari Octo Finissimo to create ever thinner watches. It seems like every other year, a brand or two announces that they have cut micromillimeters from their previous record.
Recently, however, it seems that these brands have reached the limits of mechanical watch thinness. For example, in March, just ahead of Watches & Wonders in 2022, Bulgari unveiled the Octo Finissimo Ultra, which is 1.8mm thick, taking back the trophy from the 2mm-thick Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept as the world’s thinnest piece of machinery surface. At the time, the Bulgari team told the press that they couldn’t make the Octo more streamlined without sacrificing functionality.
Then Richard Mille dropped the RM UP-01 Ferrari last week, with a “thickness” of just 1.75mm. Did the RM UP-01 Ferrari win the race that took up less space? It’s hard to say, but Richard Mille tossing his hat into the ring did make the skinniest game suddenly more interesting.
Fact: We should see it coming
Richard Mille timepieces are often described as racing cars on the wrist. So, just as motorsport relies on a complete overhaul to shave seconds off a car’s lap time, the manufacturer decided to reinvent the wheel with the RM UP-01 Ferrari.
Of course, Richard Mille is known for innovations in unconventional movements and materials. But the brand has explored the world of ultra-thin watches before, the most famous example of which is the 3.6mm-thick RM 67-01 Automatic Winding Extra Flat. Still, when people think of Richard Mille, they think of watches with sexy tonneau-shaped cases.
Richard Mille even entered the competition for the thinnest mechanical watch in the world, which caught most enthusiasts off guard. Beyond that, the brand may have just taken the crown from Bulgari and Piaget, with the shocking RM UP-01 Ferrari unveiled last week.
RM UP-01 Ferrari vs. the World
So, as the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, how does the RM UP-01 Ferrari compare to the Octo Finissimo Ultra and Altiplano Ultimate Concept?
While Bulgari’s team was skeptical about thinner watches, Piaget and Bulgari did (and still) go with a movement that used the caseback as a baseplate.
The Richard Mille adopts a more traditional design, with a 41.45 x 28.85mm movement and a thickness of just 1.18mm, housed inside the case. The reason behind this structure is that it provides improved shock resistance. Therefore, it can withstand accelerations in excess of 5,000 Gs astonishingly.
To keep this traditional structure slim, the RM UP-01 Ferrari manual-winding movement features a skeletonized baseplate and bridges composed of an alloy of 90% grade 5 titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. Interestingly, this precise mixture of titanium, aluminum, and vanadium (Ti-6Al-4V) is a titanium alloy with such high strength and excellent corrosion resistance that this alloy is most commonly used in the aerospace industry. high quality cheap watches
However, the most exciting advancement for this ultra-flat movement is the patented design of the completely redesigned escapement.
But Ferrari wasn’t the only conspirator Richard Mille came up with with his new escapement on the RM UP-01 drawing table. In fact, engineers at the Audemars Piguet laboratory helped develop a new escapement with a titanium balance wheel. This balance wheel greatly reduces the thickness of the movement, while still providing the same protection as a traditional Swiss anchor escapement.
First, a disclaimer: while we’ve experienced the Octo Finissimo Ultra and Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept firsthand, we’ve yet to wear the RM UP-01 Ferrari. While we know from past experience, Richard Mille watches, despite their boldness, are very comfortable to wear on the wrist. From the photos, though, we can see that the RM UP-01 Ferrari is unlikely to be dressed like any other RM.
So while most Richard Mille watches hug the wrist like a race car hugs the curves on the track, the architecture of the 51×39mm RM UP-01 Ferrari is, for no better word, unique.
The ultra-thin movements of Piaget and Bulgari are (of course) outstanding examples of engineering, but they are still stacked so that the design looks like a watch. In contrast, working with the Ferrari team, the RM UP-01 opted to distribute the inner workings over a wider surface area. This layout also rules out traditional movements with superimposed gears and hands.
Richard Mille cheap also integrated a “function selector” in the bezel. Located between 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock, the winding (W) or manual setting (H) functions can be selected simply by turning the crown. Once the function you want has been selected, the time can be set by turning the second crown between 7 and 8 o’clock or the barrel can be wound to its full 45-hour power reserve. Two black ceramic inserts surround the crown, protecting the bezel from friction and ensuring water resistance to 10 meters.
The main criticism of the RM UP-01 Ferrari comes from those who feel the brand’s aesthetics have been sacrificed in the name of engineering or (worse) glory. Complaints, for example, ranged from the Ferrari logo taking up as much space as the dial itself to the idea that it looked more like a security card than a watch.
These are valid observations. Yes, the Ferrari logo is by no means hidden. And, yes, the RM UP-01 Ferrari’s flatness combined with its width suggests that you might feel like you’re balancing a plank on your wrist.
The truth is, dual-brand dials are nothing new in the watch industry, and there are plenty of nods to Richard Mille’s signature design DNA, such as the 13 visible grade 5 titanium screws on the dial and the tonneau-shaped (though flipped horizontally) silhouette .
In addition, the brand’s constant focus on creating new aesthetic norms and pushing technical specifications means that Richard Mille’s avant-garde designs won’t suit all tastes. While we can’t speak for the entire watch world, we’re glad the replica RM UP-01 Ferrari exists, as it shows that there’s still room for competition in the ultra-thin segment.