If there is one certain field that always strives for new material to make their products lighter (and hence more performing) then it is that of racing cars. And if there is a watch brand that strives for these same goals then it must be Richard Mille. So it is quite obvious that both fields meet to join their individual expertise – extremely tough but light materials from the racing car industry and reliable and precise timekeeping pieces.
A few months back Richard Mille has introduced their first timepiece in cooperation with McLaren Automotive (don’t get it mixed up with McLaren Formula 1). The McLaren Automotive are made for the public street – just like Richard Mille wants to make performing watches for everyday live. For us there was no better place to get to know the RM 11-03 Flyback Chronograph McLaren then at the ‘Nürburgring Classics Richard Mille’ race, which took place end of June.
The ‘Nürburgring Classics’ first started in 2017 with Richard Mille as main partner and the aim to become a continues venue taking place once a year. Over 3 days, more then 700 vintage car enthusiasts took part in 18 races. Guests had the chance to co-drive the McLaren 720S and 570S. We had the privilege to take them out a few laps ourselves on the ‘Nürburgring Grand Prix’ track. However, focus of this venue is clearly on vintage cars. So we spotted a Marcos 1800 GT, a Lotus Elan R26, a Ford GT40, a Porsche 356 A Coupe from 1959, a Shelby Cobra 427 from 1975 amongst many other beautiful and well preserved cars.
Great products need great designers. So McLaren chief designer Rob Melville and Richard Mille engineer Fabrice Namura have stuck their heads together and some time later the RM 11-03 Flyback Chronograph McLaren was born. The inspiration of course very much derives from the McClaren 720S sportscar. But also mixed with some Richard Mille signatures. For example, the carbon TPT fibre case is mixed with quartz TPT, which is an extremely resistant and light material due to its multiple layers of parallel filaments (fibre). Carbon is being used in the sports cars too, and the orange (papaya orange as Bruce McClaren used to call it) colouring expresses the McLaren traditional colour code.
The chronograph pushers are made from titanium and designed in the shape of the headlights of the McLaren 720S. Not less impressive is the crown, which is a mini replica of a McLaren lightweight wheel. The large hands on the skeletonized dial with luminous paint improve the readability. It gets quite busy on this bright colourful dial. 60-minutes countdown timer at 9 o’clock, 12-hour totalizer at 6 o’clock, seconds countdown timer at 3 o’clock, a tachymeter scale in green and an annual calendar with oversize date indication.
The RM 11-03 houses the RMAC3 calibre with a flyback chronograph and a 55-hour power reserve. To reach the desired lightweight construction most of the movement parts are also made from ceramic or grade 5 titanium and then covered with PVD to improve its stiffness. Some parts are even made in white gold (ribs and weight segment). This is a challenge as the plates and bridges have to withstand quite some pressure. But it reflects the ambitious work from sportscar manufacturing.
The movement has a memory system that adapts to the owner’s lifestyle. You can simply move some screws on the rotor (visible on the caseback), which will change the way the rotor will load. This way the rotor’s inertia is modified to either speed up the winding process in the case of leisurely arm movements, or slow it down during sporting activities.