I wish today to come back to a watch that is not a novelty. However, thanks to its singularity, I believe it deserves an article. The Richard Mille RM016 is a piece I've always liked since its first introduction in 2007. And by writing this sentence, I have just realized that this watch is eleven years old. Eleven years old and it looks as yound and fresh as ever.
I regularly hear comments about Richard Mille's aesthetic approach. The main criticisms relate to the extremely contemporary and audacious style that would prevent the inclusion of the different models of the collection in a logic of timelessness. I don't agree with this point of view. Just have a look at the first creations of the brand: their designs are still current. The RM016 is part of this trend. Yet this was not easily achievable.
In fact the RM016 was a breakthrough in 2007 because Richard Mille was able to explore two new territories. The first territory was the rectangular watch one whose shape was clearly distinguishable from those of the usual Richard Mille tonneau shaped cases. The second territory was the ultra-thin watch one, thus laying the foundations for a more refined and elegant aesthetic approach that is still one of the pillars of the current collection as evidenced by the growing role of references like RM067-01 or RM067-02.
Thus, the challenge for Richard Mille was to expand his stylistic palette without losing the strength and impact of the personality of his models. When we think about rectangular watches, it is the images of Reverso and Tank that immediately come to our minds. Classic and dressed pieces, embodying a traditional approach to watchmaking. This Richard Mille rectangular watch is the opposite of these icons. Its size (49.80mm x 38mm) is impressive at first glance. And let's not forget that with a shaped watch, the least additional millimeter significantly accentuates the feeling of size. Then, the presentation of the dial used again a large part of the brand codes: the numerals, the date window at 7 o'clock, the transparency effects to discover the technical finish of the movement ... And all these elements, without forgetting the screws on the bezel, made the RM016 successful: it was both so different and so close to other Richard Mille watches.The curved ends of the case:
The fineness of the case is also surprising. Admittedly, the "ultra-thin" qualifier is perhaps too daring: with a height of 8.25mm, the aim of the RM016 was not to break records even in the context of a 2007 automatic watch. Taking into account the size of the case, this controlled thickness strongly accentuates the slender side of the design and, paradoxically, the perceived size.
If we consider the RM016 as a simple rectangular evolution of a Richard Mille watch, it would be, however, an error. The care to details is considerable. I think in particular the curved ends of the case that allows the watch to perfectly follow the wrist despite its significant size. But the little touch that makes the difference, at least to my mind, is the crown. The shape of this pointed crown, a kind of evolution of the crown of the RM07-01 and RM07-02, is ideal. It brings a welcome visual break against the impressive and imposing size of the case. The delicacy of its end brings elegance and character. It is so successful that it was reused with the RM033 and it inspired, in my point of view, the RM067-01 one.The particular shape of the crown:
The movement that now powers the RM016 is the self-winding caliber RMAS7 featuring a balance wheel with variable inertia. This movement whose skeletonized presentation is fully adapted to the Richard Mille context is also used by the RM028. It is distinguished by its rotor with variable geometry that allows to adapt the winding efficiency according to the behavior of the owner of the watch. The watchmaker only has to move the positions of the small blades on the winding mass to modify its inertia. I like a lot this movement precisely because of its excellent performances and its torque. The two barrels have more the objective to obtain the best behavior stability than to really increase the power reserve (55 hours for a 4hz frequency). The finishing work is excellent in the sense that the presentation of the movement, whatever the side, is consistent with the spirit of the watch including on the dial side, what is never easy.
The RM016 gives a lot of pleasure when worn. Thanks to its shape and size, it has a great presence on the wrist. It is clearly not made for small wrists. The absence of lugs gives the impression of being a large bracelet that wraps the wrist and this feeling reinforces the personality and the dynamic of the piece. That's why I like it a lot: it is at the same time imposing and in some respects delicate and refined.
Since 2007, the RM016 has been available in different versions, with various materials (including a titanium version weighing only 64 grams), with set parts and even hollowed numerals. This watch has a singular place in the Richard Mille collection because of its shape. However, it is, for the reasons mentioned above, one of the best ways to enter the world of the brand ... provided not to be too attached to the traditional tonneau-shaped cases!
+ a successful aesthetic evolution of the Richard Mille style
+ one of the rare truly contemporary rectangular watches of the market
+ its long presence in the brand collection
+ the efficiency of the movement
- the size and shape don't make it suitable for small wrists
- its new price is now very high (from 84,000 euros in France) but it is consistent with the other watches of the collection ... and with the brand success!