Richard Mille have always had one of the most distinctive aesthetics in the entire watch industry, blurring the lines between sporty, industrial, futuristic and playful. The latter is often seen in their choices of colour which can vary all the way from black to pastel pink. But for the new edition of the RM 21-02 Tourbillon Aerodyne, Richard Mille have actually toned down the use of colour to reveal the authentic textures and colours of the cutting-edge material that have been used in its construction.
At the heart of this watch is the tripartite case, which is constructed from a combination of Carbon TPT, Quartz TPT and titanium. In as simple terms as possible, TPT is a composite material created by taking masses of tiny fibres taken from carbon (for Carbon TPT) or silica (for Quartz TPT) threads that are then trapped within a composite matrix and forged together at 120 °C and 6 bar of pressure. This creates an incredibly tough, durable and lightweight material that can be crafted using fairly conventional means such as a CNC machine.
For the RM 21-02 Tourbillon Aerodyne’s case, the black portion around the bezel is Carbon TPT while the white sections around the periphery are Quartz TPT. It’s interesting to see both materials used in harmony together because typically Richard Mille tend to use on or the other in order to create an aesthetic cohesion. However, here, the dual use of them alongside titanium gives the piece a cool futuristic aeronautics vibe like a spaceship. It is, at least in my opinion, one of the better looking RMs they’ve produced in a while.
In terms of its structure, the piece measures 42.68 x 50.12 x 14.30 mm with the signature tonneau shape. You can see the skeletonised display from either side through the sapphire glass on the top and bottom, which features central hours and minutes as well as a power reserve indicator, a torque indicator and a function selector. You can also see the titular tourbillon at 6 o’clock. It’s all part of the Calibre RM21-02 which has a 70-hour power reserve.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Calibre RM21-02 is actually its baseplate, which is not a sentence you hear all that often in the watch industry. That’s because the RM uses a highly specialist material called HAYNES®214®, a nickel-chromium-aluminium-iron alloy that has incredibly high heat tolerances. It’s often used in incinerators, turbines, catalytic converters etc. and can withstand temperatures of more than 1,300 °C. I think it should be able to withstand the friction of a watch movement.
The Richard Mille RM 21-02 Tourbillon Aerodyne is a testament to cutting edge material, an ode to pushing the limits on what materials can achieve in the watch industry. Richard Mille cite their inspiration as the aeronautics industry but honestly, this watch feel more like it’s part of the Aero-Space industry. Although at this point it’s more exclusive than a trip into space as only 50 pieces are being produced – and considering the original 2022 edition of the RM21-02 now goes for around $1.4 million, it likely costs a lot more than a trip to space too.
Price and Specs:
More details at Richard Mille.