Watches: Richard Mille RM 019-02 Tourbillon Fleur (+live pics and video)

By Thierry Ané on January 30, 2015

Since its inception, Richard Mille has been a niche brand capitalising on the extremely technical side of their models. A PhD in micro-mechanics and physics or at least an MBA in Fine Watchmaking sometimes seems necessary to fully understand the description of the ultra-complex and highly innovative models presented over the years.

When you market your watches emphasising so much on the revolutionary aspect of the materials used, the ingenuity of the mechanical solutions adopted, and the sophistication of the manufacturing and finishing processes followed, chances are your brand will only speak to a male audience.

Quite paradoxically, though, Richard Mille decided very soon that he wanted to create a ladies’ watch that, while retaining the revolutionary and highly technical approach to watchmaking he has always followed for the men’s collections, would also appeal to women on an aesthetic level.

In 2005, the very first RM 007 were born and like subsequent versions combined a skeletonized outer dial to give you a taste of the inner workings with a delicate centre set with all sorts of gemstones to bring the sparkle in women’s eyes thought to be needed to capture their attention.

After this initial success, the brand dared to unveil ladies’ watches that were as uncompromising as their male counterparts when it comes to displaying their technical side. The RM 019 Tourbillon presented in 2008, for instance, only used brilliant-cut diamonds for the Celtic knot on top of the movement but hid nothing of its complex calibre with tourbillon escapement.

The unconventional watchmaker seemed to be right in trusting that women were finally ready to appreciate timepieces for their mechanical merits as subsequent models, like the RM 019-01 Tourbillon Natalie Portman presented in 2014 followed the same recipe: discreet artistic gem-setting only present to “elevate” the mechanics.

Although all these models clearly represented an appealing offer for the female customers, one could not help but notice the gap between the exceptional breakthrough presented in mens' collections and the more cautious and conventional approach followed for the ladies’ collections. In a nutshell, we were expecting something both mechanical and revolutionary from this talented watchmaker that was specifically developed with the women in mind!

With the breathtaking RM 019-02 Tourbillon Fleur presented at the SIHH this year, this is exactly what the brand brought us…

The new model shares the same slender 38.30 x 45.40 mm tonneau-shaped case as the previous RM 019 models, this time in white gold entirely set with brilliant-cut diamonds (baguettes or other precious gemstones are available if it’s more your thing though). What sets it apart is in its movement and appears in full display on the 3-dimensional dial.

The hours and minutes are shown on a small diamond-set sub-dial located at 1 o’clock and the rest of the space is filled with a magnificent 3-dimensional magnolia flower crafted in gold with vibrant colours achieved by miniature painting. The size and depth of this micro-sculpture makes it extremely realistic and it would already be a magnificent treat just as a decorative element, all the more so that the movement’s flying tourbillon is placed at the centre of the flower.

The flower opens to reveal the tourbillon

But things are not as “simple” as they seem, though and the magnolia is in fact an automaton transforming this watch into a piece of mimetic mechanical art. Indeed, in passing or on demand (by pressing the pusher at 9 o’clock), the five petals of the magnolia flower slowly open in a delicate and extremely realistic kinetic ballet to showcase its heart: the tourbillon.

In order to provide an even better view of its mechanical beauty, when the petals open, the entire tourbillon with its stone set stamen rises upwards 1 mm, exactly mimicking the natural motion of the flower arching its stamen upwards to increase the chances of pollination!

Technically, the energy necessary to achieve this magnificent show is supplied by a separate second barrel and does not affect the power reserve of the watch. Needless to say, the mechanism allowing the flower to open and the tourbillon to rise is particularly complex and required all the brand’s expertise to perfect.

The skeletonised baseplate visible through the sapphire crystal on the back of the watch also received a lot of attention: it is entirely hand-engraved with a beautiful floral pattern. The show on the dial side is so extraordinary, though, that one easily forgets to flip the watch over or ask about the other characteristics of the RM 019-02 manually-wound calibre. Even the bed of diamonds adorning the bezel and case band looks pale in comparison to what is going on on the dial!

Limited to just 18 pieces, the new RM 019-02 Tourbillon Fleur was without contest the ladies’ model of this Geneva Week and could very well end-up being the ladies’ complicated watch of the year. Better than words, you just need to look at our video to be enchanted by this RM 019-02 Tourbillon Fleur. Impressive!

For more information please visit the Richard Mille web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: