Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Limited Edition RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost – The Richard Mille watch with the Odometer

Machined out of Carbon TPT, the Richard Mille RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost combines tonneau, rectangular and asymmetrical shapes giving rise to a new signature shape for the brand

Oct 12, 2017 | By Jonathan Ho

The Formula 1 legend with his namesake RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost

Richard Mille makes many horologically innovative watches: There are Richard Mille watches which can function under stress of the world’s hardest tennis swingRichard Mille tourbillons which can handle being thrown and knocked around, and now, there’s a Richard Mille watch with an odometer. Now, typically, one would be frothing at the mouth for each new Richard Mille novelty but for the latest RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost, we find ourselves a little hesitant at lavishing the fawning praise which one is often accustomed to when it comes to each release by the brand.

Limited Edition RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost – The Richard Mille watch with the Odometer

Alain Prost is a legend. The OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur is a French former racing driver whose four Formula One championship wins are only surpassed by Juan Manuel Fangio  and Michael Schumacher. For 24 years, Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories and is considered by many, to be one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time. His Formula 1 record might have been beaten in 2001 but by 2002, at age 47, a period of time where most men are contemplating retirement, Prost was enjoying a spot of competitive cycling, participating in eight bicycle races, where he finished third in the Granite – Mont Lozère.

“I was more into running, cross-country skiing, weights, golf and tennis. Strangely, I didn’t feel comfortable on two wheels.” – Alain Prost on being passionate about cycling

Now, there is absolutely no contention or argument that the legendary Alain Prost is a giant in racing. And while it is admirable that the 62 year old Prost can pull off third place in a race with younger athletes, it seems awkward that Richard Mille should make a “cycling watch”, that is to say, a watch with odometer meant to tabulate kilometres travelled during each cycling tourney and link it to the Formula 1 superstar when there are men like defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome, Colombian Nairo Quintana and Frenchman Romain Bardet seems like a tad odd. Ok, perhaps names like these don’t catch on beyond the genre of cycling, even one on the level of Bernard Hinault and Mille certainly couldn’t use the tarnished reputation of Lance Armstrong (even though he was competing at a disadvantage physiologically speaking and only sought to level the playing field) but we digress.

The Richard Mille watch with the Odometer

“I ultimately turned to cycling through circumstances that took place during my sabbatical from F1 driving in 1992. My physical therapist convinced me that the alternative training method would be worthwhile because i was having problems with my knees and back.” – Alain Prost on why he eventually picked it up

What is not up for debate is that cycling is a deeply technical sport. There’s a reason why mechanical watch lovers tend to also gravitate towards cycling – it’s that alchemic combination of man and machine – mortal cyclists perform ever increasing physical feats supported by the introduction of composites, lighter materials and performance gains in the latest gear assemblies and transmissions. Thus, while there is some synergy in combining one of Richard Mille’s passions into another high performance timepiece, the linking of the new Limited Edition RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost to the Formula 1 racing icon seems awkward in contrast to the other ‘elites in their fields’ namesake ambassadors –  Rafael Nadal, Yohan Blake and Felipe Massa to name a few.

“I was impressed by the bikes themselves, but also somewhat by the technical and even technological aspects, including the use of different materials.” – Alain Prost on why he chose road cycling

Up close with the odometer of the RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost Limited Edition

Technical Innovations within the RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost Limited Edition

The mechanical odometer of the new Richard Mille RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost can tally distances of up to 99,999 kilometres, although that is the Limited Edition RM’s raison d’etre – Mille had come to learn that competitive cyclists could scarcely remember the total distances cycled; but given the five digit configuration of the rollers, this odometer complication of the Rm 70-01 Alain Prost can also serve as a reminder for set dates or times given that it is possible to specify the correct numerals as required.

Adjusting the odometer is done using two grade 5 titanium pushers. Located at 2 o’clock, the first pusher is a selector that can synchronise any of 5 selected rollers, or set the complication in neutral position. Depressing the second pusher, at 10 o’clock incrementally rotates the selected roller. Inspired by the gear indicators on the handlebar gearshift, markers on the odometer provide visual confirmation of the selection.

While the odometer complication is distractingly novel, the calibre needed to be as compact as possible given that the odometer mechanism occupied the top half of calibre RM 70-01 real estate

That said, its ease of use does not imply ease of mechanical construction – the mechanism itself is more complicated than it appears. The first pusher activates selection of a roller, one of the five. Execution is confirmed by perfect alignment of the two yellow arrows. The second pusher incrementally rotates the roller, which automatically blocks, thanks to the carry mechanism. To avoid accidental manipulations, the complication has been fitted with a neutral position (N). Thanks to a spring-lock, the selection fork will be lined up straight, with an arrow at 2 o’clock pointing to N as visual confirmation that the mechanism is locked.

“I adore the bikes themselves. I own around ten bikes, including two electric bikes and some mountain bikes. I like experimenting and testing out adjustments. Even a new pair of shoes can produce a different feel.” – Alain Prost on being technical with bicycles

Richard Mille Watch Extreme Make-Over: Alain Prost Odometer Edition

Most importantly, while the odometer complication is distractingly novel, the calibre needed to be as compact as possible given that the odometer mechanism occupied the top half of calibre RM 70-01 real estate. Eventually, this was made possible with the positioning of the mainspring barrel and tourbillon on the same axis.

Furthermore, a 70 hour power reserve is possible on a single barrel thanks to its fast rotating barrel providing significantly diminished periodic internal mainspring adhesion thereby increasing performance while excellent mainspring delta curve supported ideal power reserve/performance and regularity ratio for more efficient delivery of torque to the rest of the calibre. The power reserve indicator is itself visible at at 5 o’clock thanks to an indicator powered by a planetary differential.

If you typically wear your watch on the left wrist, this is going to take some getting used to since it’s optimised for a right wearing wrist position whilst holding handlebars

Machined out of Carbon TPT, the Richard Mille RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost combines tonneau, rectangular and asymmetrical shapes which industry satirist @ShameOnWrist likened to the curvature of Prost’s nose but really, it was designed to ensure comfort on wrist particularly in positions where one’s hands were on the bicycle handlebars. Any one familiar with cycling would be immediately aware of how one typically has to wear a watch higher on the wrist to accommodate the flex of the wrist when holding the handlebars else risk discomfort. The large, almost case length twin pushers were similarly design for ergonomics implying ease of actuation whilst cycling, however, we would argue that attempting to push these buttons whilst in-motion on bicycle is inviting the gods of probability to roll the dice on a potential face-first visit to the asphalt.

Each 30 piece Limited Edition RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost comes with their own bespoke Colnago road bicycle

In order that they may fully enjoy the dynamic and mechanical qualities of the RM 70-01, each buyer will receive as a gift their very own bespoke road cycle. Developed by Alain Prost and Richard Mille in partnership with the prestigious Italian bikemaker Colnago, these individually numbered bicycles are made by hand and painted in the watchmaking brand’s colours.

New RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost Price and Specs

Limited Edition 30 pieces
Movement RM70-01 manual winding tourbillon with 70 hours power reserve
Case 49.48mm tripartite case employing Carbon TPT with 50 metres water resistance
Strap Silicon strap with deployant buckle
Price CHF 799,000 (excl. VAT)

 
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