In 2007, the Richard Mille RM 016 Automatic Extra Flat made its first appearance in the world of luxury watches. The sleek rectangular design was a first for the Swiss watchmaker, revolutionising the product line-up. Yet it remains recognisable as a Richard Mille timepiece with its skeletonised movement and a clear focus on fine details. Although the RM 016 is inspired by the brand’s characteristic tonneau, or barrel-shaped, case design – which originally debuted with the launch of the Richard Mille brand in 2001 – it was built to depart from that robust style and add a new visual identity to the brand. This lighter model has a slender case measuring only 8.25mm thick and 38mm wide. It’s curved to fit snugly on the wrist, and can slip under a shirt cuff to be worn as a formal watch. This unisex design still celebrates the technological innovations, high-performance materials and sporty aesthetic that define a Richard Mille watch, but combines them with a classic look reminiscent of early 20th-century timepieces. There is a choice of three precious metals for the case: titanium, 18-carat red gold and 18-carat white gold, with an option for diamond settings. A selection of straps is also available, using materials ranging from calf leather to alligator and rubber. The timepiece has been crafted with the same attention to detail seen across the Richard Mille line, with 202 separate machining operations used to make each case. Ahead of production, more than 18 days of machine adjustment and 400 hours of technical research and drawing were required, bringing about architectural changes such as eliminating the conventional casing ring. The result is a slim, sturdy tripartite case that is water-resistant up to 30 metres. Titanium – a space-age alloy that can be challenging to work with – is used for various components of the RM 016 down to the screws, further indicating its precise craftsmanship. Inside the RM 016 is Richard Mille’s RMAS7 skeletonised automatic winding movement, constructed with components in Grade 5 titanium. The bottom plate and bridges are crafted from the same material, with a tough PVD or Titalyt coating. This creates a smooth, highly durable base for the entire assembly that enables the gear train to function effortlessly. The watch also includes Richard Mille’s exclusive variable-rotor geometry design for the self-winding mechanism, allowing it to be customised according to its owner’s activity levels. This means the winding process can be adjusted to either speed up to accommodate leisurely arm movements, or slowed down to coordinate with high-action sports activities. A double-barrel system stores the energy between two winding barrels instead of just one, providing a power reserve of around 55 hours while ensuring improved long-term performance. The dial is protected by eight silicon braces, and covered with an anti-glare sapphire crystal measuring just 0.40mm thick. A clever design feature sees the date displayed in a vertical window at 7 o’clock on the dial. Along the opposite side of the watch face is a crown made from Grade 5 titanium, with detailing in red or white gold. The RM 016 embodies the cutting-edge engineering and distinctive style that have established Richard Mille as a well-known name in modern luxury over nearly two decades. With the launch of every new model, the brand continues to assert itself as a game-changer in high-end horology.