Last March, when Bulgari announced that it had broken the world record for the thinnest mechanical watch (beating Piaget and its Altiplano Ultimate Concept), it was hard to imagine anything that could surpass the Octo Finissimo Ultra’s 1.8-mm thickness. Much less just three months later.
However, Richard Mille did it with the help of Ferrari, its newest partner. The first watch to come out of this partnership is the RM UP-01 Ferrari and it is mind-bogglingly skinny at 1.75mm. Its sideways-tonneau shape, titanium build and dashboard-like face set it apart from its ultra-thin peers in that it looks much less like a watch than the others. The time is displayed in a centre subdial in the top half of the watch face, while a view of the balance can be seen on its right. Both are protected by sapphire crystals.
The dials on the left are the “crowns”, reimagined as rotating discs that sit flush against the watch face. The one on top is a function selector, while the one below winds the watch and sets the time, and both are surrounded by black ceramic inserts to protect them against friction.
Ferrari’s involvement in this time machine is only evident from the tiny Prancing Horse logo at the bottom right hand corner. Coming from two brands known for flashy performance, the RM UP-01 is surprisingly austere, and it does not attempt to be anything more than the engineering marvel that it is.
Six thousand hours of research and development went into its creation. The Calibre RM UP-01 was developed with the help of Audemars Piguet Le Locle (formerly Renaud et Papi), with whom Richard Mille previously worked with on its more complicated watches like the RM 001 and RM 004.
Running at 4Hz, it features a patented extra-flat escapement, titanium baseplate, skeletonised bridges, and 45 hours of power reserve. The manually wound movement weighs just 2.82g, but was extensively tested so that it can withstand accelerations of more than 5,000G.
Richard Mille watches were made to be worn and enjoyed in even the most extreme conditions, so even this whisper-thin gizmo will be safe at depths of up to 10m, thanks to the aforementioned ceramic inserts around the crown and the 13 titanium screws that hold the watch together.
While the Piaget Altiplano Concept and Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra are more instantly recognisable as watches, the RM UP-01 has a more traditional construction with an actual case (albeit a monobloc one) to house the movement.
As a solution, Piaget and Bulgari used the casebacks of the watches as part of the movement. Richard Mille simply made a leaner one. The RM UP-01 is a limited edition of 150 pieces, which isn’t many, but something this incredible heralding the debut of a multi-year partnership between a watchmaker and a marque can only mean more horological marvels in the future.
Meanwhile, Richard Mille has pledged to back the Ferrari Driver Academy, which fosters and promotes young racing talent. The watch brand will also actively support the Ferrari Challenge Series — a single-marque championship held on three continents that brings together enthusiasts who want to run their supercars on a racetrack.
Furthermore, as Ferrari combines cutting-edge technology with passion and art, fans can expect to see a specific range of watches created in partnership with Ferrari’s design team. It’s only going to get more interesting from here on, so buckle up.