No doubt about it, the Richard Mille RM 022 Aerodyne is an extraordinary timepiece. We could have stopped there, showed you pictures, and it would have been enough to tickle your love for watches. But instead we’re going to try to explain what makes a Richard Mille watch distinctive and why the RM 022 might represent the quintessence of the brand’s know-how in a single timepiece.
First, the materials. The structure you can see through the dial that looks like a honeycomb — it is, in fact, the baseplate of the movement — is made from a very exclusive component developed by NASA. It is made of orthorhombic titanium aluminide with a carbon nano-fiber core. NASA created the honeycomb geometrical pattern as core material for supersonic aircraft wings. It allows an extreme resistance to torsion and high temperatures and is very lightweight. It was actually Hautlence that first used a honeycomb structure as a watch dial, on its HL models (like the HL Ti that we reviewed for you) and in its more recent creation, the Destination. (The latter, however, was not developed by NASA.)
Impressive, right? But what is the purpose? Richard Mille has always focused on resistance, strength, and weight reduction as important factors in its watches, so new materials are always being put to use. It’s a bit of a “public secret” that brand founder Richard Mille himself deliberately dropped one of his tourbillon watches on the floor to demonstrate its resistance. Are these super-lightweight materials essential? Of course not, but they do add to the watches’ cool factor.
The RM 022 also indicates a second time zone via a transparent sapphire disk. The second time zone is highlighted over a white-colored plate near 3 o’clock and can be adjusted using the pusher at 9 o’clock.
At 11 o’clock is the power-reserve indicator, set for 70 hours when fully wound. The last indication on the dial, positioned just beneath the 3 o’clock index, is the function selector. Using a push-button in the center of the crown, you can switch between 3 positions – W (Winding), N (Neutral), H (Hands, to set the time) — so you’ll never have to pull out the crown, another function guided by the need for durability.
Finally, the RM 022 features a free-sprung balance for a better isochronism (accuracy over time) and precision. The balance is built without a regulator, like Patek Philippe’s Gyromax balance or the balance used in the Grönefeld Parallax Tourbillon, and the rate is adjusted by weight screws on the balance wheel’s rim. On less exclusive timepieces you’ll find a the balance spring with a regulator, which allows small changes to the length of the spring in order to adjust the precision.
The tonneau shape of the case, part of the Richard Mille brand’s DNA, is made of satin-finished 18K rose gold. As simple as it looks at first sight, the satin-finishing is quite spectacular, especially with the mirror-polished, angled edges. It can only be made by hand and requires some very specialized know-how. The technical look is completed with the 12 spline screws made of grade 5 titanium. These spline screws allow for better control of the torque applied to them during assembly, and at the same time they are unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly; they will also age well. Again, all of this is part of the typical Richard Mille design codes.
The Richard Mille RM-022 Aerodyne Dual Time Zone is available in titanium, white gold or rose gold, and in a limited edition with a carbon fiber case. The retail price is €438,000 in rose gold, €397,656 in titanium, and €450,500 in white gold. The price tag is understandable considering the watch’s level of innovation, complication and finishing.
Source: watchtime.com By Frank Geelen