Since the 1930s, the sport of polo has been associated with one timepiece – the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. While the Reverso has since evolved to become more of a dress watch than something worn whilst playing polo, trust Richard Mille to engineer a sports watch that can withstand the hard knocks of the sport. At SIHH this year, the brand introduced the RM 53-01 Tourbillon, a polo watch the likes of which you’ve never seen before.
The new watch rides on the back of the brand’s association with polo icon Pablo Mac Donough. It may be recalled that in 2012, Richard Mille unveiled its first watch produced in association with the Argentine player, the first watch bearing his name — RM 053 Pablo Mac Donough was a limited and numbered edition designed to brave the extreme impacts inherent to polo—was unveiled at SIHH 2012.
The big challenge here was producing a watch that would be resistant to the countless shocks that any polo player goes through during a match. Richard Mille is no stranger to this after building multiple timepieces with tennis player Rafael Nadal that offer unprecedented levels of shock resistance. For the RM 53-01 Tourbillon, Richard Mille has created a cable-suspended movement with a tourbillon and a laminated sapphire glass Carbon TPT case.
The 44.5 mm case is machined in Carbon TPT, which is a patented structure that has been described as “virtually indestructible.” What’s most noticeable about the case, however, is its Damascene design that recalls Damascus steel, used centuries ago to create “virtually-indestructible” blades.
The first, ‘peripheral’ baseplate, is attached to the caseband and supports the tensioner mechanism. The second, ‘central’ baseplate is attached by cables to the peripheral baseplate and incorporates all of the calibre’s wheels, as well as the winding mechanism. This second baseplate rests on two braided steel cables that come in at just 0.27 mm in diameter. The two cables have a 10-pulley system that is leveraged by four tensioners.
The RM team has to make sure that there is an even distribution throughout the intricate pulley system, while the grade 5 titanium used in the baseplate and bridges adds a stiffness that encourages ultimate shock protection.
To create the sapphire glass case, Richard Mille collaborated with Stettler, a renowned sapphire specialist. Inspired by the use of laminated glass in the automotive world, Stettler and RM developed a system of laying down two sheets of sapphire glass that are separated by a thin polyvinyl film that is then covered in anti-reflective and UV coating.
The RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough is limited to 30 total pieces and is priced at $900,000.