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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: The RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: The RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic


From 29 June to 2 July, this great classic car meeting returns to the legendary Le Mans race track. Against a history-steeped backdrop, around 800 classic cars as well as another 8,500 club vehicles will take part in a series of fiercely contested races. This year, the 150 exhibitors and 1,000 drivers from 30 different countries will offer a colourful spectacle to more than 200,000 expected visitors – an unprecedented number since the event was founded in 2002. As in previous years, the vehicles will be divided into six starting groups, one for each of the six eras spanning from 1923 to 1981.

As co-founder of the Le Mans Classic, Richard Mille’s commitment to the world of traditional motoring is long established. First staged in 2002, Richard Mille has been a constant at the event since its inception as a promoter of teams and drivers. Since 2008, a limited special edition has been presented for each edition of the event, which enjoys great popularity among collectors due to the combination of the classic colours of the Le Mans Classic with Mille’s design codes. This year’s model, which also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, should be no exception and once again presents itself as an ideal ambassador between the world of motorsport and watchmaking.

The RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic: an exclusive model for the 100th anniversary

The case

At first glance, the green and white case of the new special edition may provoke controversial opinions amongst many a collector. But a second look at the timepiece, which breaks with old watchmaking conventions, is definitely worthwhile. First the facts: the dimensions of the case are 38.40 x 47.34 x 11.68 mm. The case is made of TPT® quartz.

This means that over 600 layers of parallel filaments, created by separating silicone fibres, are randomly brought to light, making each component of the three-part case unique. Ultimately, however, it is noticeable that the case of this year’s RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic is more restrained overall than that of the visually striking RM 029 Le Mans Classic, which caused a stir in 2021 with a predominantly green case.

The dial

As unobtrusive as the case of the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic may be, the dial is impressive even by Richard Mille standards. A glance at the three subdial counters showing the minutes at 2 o’clock, the hours at 7 o’clock and the seconds at 9 o’clock reveals that the brand is translating the vast know-how it has acquired over the past 20 years into a modern design strategy – with great success in my opinion.

Furthermore, the movement visualises the position of the crown on the dial. Like a gear shift, the arrow at 3 o’clock points to one of the three positions. W stands for ‘winding’, the D for ‘date’ and H for ‘hand setting’. Unlike the basic model of the RM 72-01, which still has three numerals, the manufacture has completely dispensed with the use of numerals. These have been replaced by the pattern of the Le Mans flag at 11 o’clock and a vertical date window at 7 o’clock.

The calibre

Richard Mille describes the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic as the ‘first flyback chronograph from the house to be equipped with a patented clutch mechanism with two oscillating gears …’. But what does that mean exactly? This new type of flyback chronograph – which, by the way, Richard Mille has applied for a patent for – distributes the torque between the different chronograph counters. The display and connection to minutes and hours are thus detached from the chronograph’s seconds wheel.

In summary, this means that the decoupling of the chronograph function from the daily timekeeping ensures that the rate of the basic movement remains completely unaffected by the triggering of the chronograph. The in-house calibre CRMC1 thus has a power reserve of 50 hours, regardless of whether the chronograph is in operation or not.

Price & Availability

Collectors, in particular, are likely to prick up their ears at this point: the price of the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic, limited to 150 pieces, is CHF 295,000.

BRAND Richard Mille
MODEL RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic
DIMENSIONS Width: 38.40 mm
Length: 47.34 mm
Height: 11.68 mm
WATER RESISTANCE 3 bar (~ 30 metres)
DIAL Grade 5 titanium
FREQUENCY 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
FUNCTIONS Hours, minutes, small seconds, flyback chronograph, functions display and stop seconds
PRICE CHF 295, 000 – limited to 150 pieces