Although the scales of swiss watches and airplanes are different, we believe that these two objects are very similar in terms of function, requirements and processes. Everyone spends thousands of hours on research and development every day. Ultra-light and ultra-durable materials ensure its robustness and performance. Choose precise structural arrangements to resist the strong vibrations they suffer. Uncompromising certification guarantees its durability. Strict implementation of strict procedures is a necessary condition for its quality. Their design has created wonderful machines, which are never-ending sources of inspiration!
If two worlds are destined to meet at the pinnacle of innovation, then these two worlds are aviation and timepieces, both for mastering space and time.
Aerospace has always been a special place, a source of inspiration for Richard Mille, and the company’s insights into the 21st century watch industry reveal similarities to the extreme conditions of the former. Our watches have the ability to work under harsh conditions, resist strong forces and withstand wear and tear, which allows us to pass innovative tests on our watches and make them stand the test of the “torture chamber” we created during manufacture. Just like the aviation industry, which requires a safety margin of 120%-150%, we hope that the functionality of the watch exceeds all specifications.
Airbus has always upheld the mission to transport passengers in the air with maximum safety and comfort, thereby pushing the company’s technical experts to the forefront of aviation design. This name alone evokes an unprecedented design method, manufactured by the well-known subsidiary Airbus Business Jet (ACJ) for exclusive private customers.
The cooperation between ACJ and Richard Mille was launched in 2016 and has achieved results in the form of the RM 50-02 Tourbillon ACJ. The technical strength displayed by the internal mechanism of this watch is an amazing display of the most advanced engineering technology and common value shared by the two companies.
Manually wound tourbillon movement, including hours, minutes, oversized date, UTC (universal standard time), am/pm indicator, function selector, power reserve indicator.
Vibration alarm function with on/off activation indicator.
The bottom plate and bridge frame are made of grade 5 titanium alloy, which is biocompatible, highly corrosion-resistant and very hard, allowing the gear train to operate easily. The alloy is 90% grade 5 titanium, 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium. The combination of grade 5 titanium alloy and black PVD treatment provides great rigidity and precise surface flatness for the entire assembly. This combination further improves the mechanical properties of the material, which explains its frequent use in the aerospace, aerospace and automotive industries.
The skeletonized bottom plate and bridge have undergone strict and complete verification tests to optimize their resistance capacity.
A new complex function developed by Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet Le Locle, this professional alarm is the result of five years of research and development. Its principle is to automatically trigger the vibration signal generated by the rotation of the pendulum at a set time. The weight is machined from a piece of platinum, is precisely calibrated, and can swing at a speed of 5400 rpm.
With its dial and two hands, the alarm clock can be adjusted to the nearest minute of a full 24 hours using the function selector at 3 o’clock. The on/off indicator at 5 o’clock completes the mechanism.
The maximum vibration duration with a dedicated barrel is 12 seconds. You can press 12 times on the pusher at 8 o’clock to charge the battery. You can view the power reserve at 7 o’clock.
The project is very marathon because it is very complicated. It is inspired by the “five-legged sheep” among us, as well as other extremely complex movements, such as the RM 039 Tourbillon Aero or RM 25-01 Tourbillon Adventure Sylvester Stallone. These timepieces that are designed to bring us into a whole new field require mechanisms and require years of development. There is no vibration alarm at all, so the experiment time is very long.
This project was helped by the close monitoring of APLL (Audemars Piguet Le Locle), with whom we developed and manufactured this movement. Before manufacturing the entire movement, various technical problems related to the internal vibration of the movement must be solved.
In order to accommodate so many components and functions in a limited volume, four partial prototypes and a lot of work on blueprints and space constraints are required. In this case, the components and functions are equivalent to RM 11-03. We have to find space for 816 parts, 2 barrels, 7 hands, 11 displays and a tourbillon cage.
We spent a lot of time thinking about the following question: “Can screws withstand all these vibrations?” We must be sure and ensure that over time. Because by definition, vibration is the enemy of the movement. Using a torque screwdriver for multiple tightening operations, a very accurate calibration force can be obtained based on simulation studies and verification tests.
In addition, the movement also has Chronofiable® A8 certification, which guarantees a six-month impact test agreement to ensure that no screws are loosened. The research was carried out at 50 and 100 g’s, and the movement was often subjected to small and frequent shocks for 24 hours. This allows us to determine the specific treatment of certain screws and determine the best torque.
The button located in the center of the crown can be selected from five different functions with a simple button: winding, pointer setting, alarm setting, UTC setting and neutral position.
The disc at 3 o’clock will display the selected mode on a light-colored ground: N (neutral)-W (winding)-T (time setting)-U (UTC pointer setting)-A (alarm setting).
The CD is located at the 6 o’clock position, indicating whether the time displayed is An Meridiem (AM) or Post Meridiem (PM).
The free spring balance wheel at 9 o’clock provides greater reliability in the event of vibration and movement assembly or disassembly, resulting in better timing results over time. The index is eliminated and 4 positioning screws can be used for more precise and repeatable adjustments.
By compensating for changes in gear meshing, wheels with a centrally expanded profile and a 20° pressure angle can more effectively promote rolling motion, ensuring excellent torque transmission and significantly improving performance.
The back cover and bezel consist of a first bezel made of polished and satin-finished grade 5 titanium. The thickness of the second bezel is only 1.80 mm and is machined by CarbonTPT®. This high-tech material consists of 600 layers of parallel filaments, which are obtained by separating carbon fibers. Layers with a thickness not exceeding 30 microns are impregnated with black resin. They are then assembled on a dedicated machine, which stacks the layers together, changing the fiber direction between the layers by 45°. The composite material is then heated in a kiln at a pressure of 6 bar to 120°C for hardening, similar to the kiln used to make aerospace parts, and then ready for mechanical processing at Richard Mille. At this stage, many carbon CarbonTPT® layers will be revealed, creating a random mosaic pattern, making each piece unique.
The belt and the push rod are also milled by CarbonTPT®. The carbon fiber enhances the strength of TPT® and is reinforced by micro-spraying and polishing grade 5 titanium alloy. The case is assembled with 20 Torq-Set® screws in grade 5 titanium and 316L stainless steel wear-resistant washers.
The crown uses a special safety system to prevent accidental winding, so as to avoid damage to the mainspring or excessive pressure.