Curations: Why the slim RM 033 and RM 67-01 stand out in Richard Mille’s avant-garde watch line-up

The round dial of RM 033 Automatic Extra Flat is a departure from Richard Mille’s signature tonneau-shaped watch designs. Photo: Richard Mille

After establishing its name in haute horlogerie with a series of sporty and substantial watches, Richard Mille started exploring more formal and sleek designs. This move not only expanded the luxury brand’s portfolio, but also created an engineering challenge for the innovative Swiss watchmaker to tackle – adapting its mechanisms to fit into thinner cases.

Starting in 2007 with the debut of the RM 016 Automatic Extra Flat, Richard Mille has regularly departed from its distinctively robust, tonneau-shaped designs to build slimmer timepieces and play with different shapes. Two other watches in this segment of the product line-up are the RM 033 and RM 67-01 – here’s what to know about each model.

RM 033 Automatic Extra Flat

Richard Mille unveiled the RM 033 in 2011 as an elegant and formal proposition for luxury watch connoisseurs. This round, thin timepiece is unconventional in terms of the brand’s signature aesthetic – which often draws inspiration from the world of motorsports – but it can still be easily recognised as a Richard Mille watch.

The RM 033 makes a bold style statement with an oversized case that measures 45.7mm in diameter yet is a mere 6.3mm thick. Crafted in either 18-carat red gold, 18-carat white gold or titanium, the tripartite case is curved to fit snugly on the wrist, and is water-resistant up to 30 metres.

The watch dimensions are made possible by the placement of the RMXP1 movement’s automatic micro-rotor on the side of the case instead of the centre, saving extra millimetres on the height of the timepiece.

The RM 033 is only 6.3mm thick and has a power reserve of 45 hours. Photo: Richard Mille

The technical challenge of this design was ensuring proper weight distribution so that the self-winding micro-rotor can operate with optimal efficiency in its off-centre position. Cast in platinum, the micro-rotor winds bi-directionally to power the extra-flat skeletonised movement within its compact space, giving the watch a power reserve of 45 hours.

The skeletonised design clearly defines the RM 033 as a Richard Mille timepiece, while the oversize numerals on the dial add a chic touch. The metal watch hands are milled and handcrafted, and can be adjusted with a ceramic crown detailed in titanium, red gold or white gold.

Richard Mille’s RM 67-01 uses the ultra-thin CRMA6 automatic movement. Photo: Richard Mille.

RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat

Launched in 2016, the RM 67-01 is a slim interpretation of Richard Mille’s iconic RM 010 Automatic watch. While it has the characteristic tonneau-shaped case and automotive design influences, it measures only 7.75mm thick, and contains the delicate, 3.6mm skeletonised CRMA6 automatic movement with a platinum rotor. The case has the wrist-hugging curvature and selection of precious metals as the brand’s other models, and is water-resistant up to 50 metres.

Designed in-house at the watchmaker’s manufacture in Les Breuleux, Switzerland, the self-winding movement has a power reserve of 50 hours. Its gears use a specialised profile for the wheel teeth that is commonly seen in car transmissions, which results in superior chronometric performance.

On the watch face, the self-winding movement supplies the date and a function indicator in addition to the hours and minutes. Set between 1 and 2 o’clock, the function indicator shows which mode the watch is in, similar to the gearbox in a car. As the crown is pulled out, a small hand points to a W (winding), D (date) or H (hand-setting). The date is displayed vertically at 5 o’clock.

The design of the dial creates a sense of visual depth over the extra-flat case and mechanics, with the numerals mounted on two linked titanium rails attached directly to the skeletonised movement. Each numeral is sculpted out of solid metal and coated with Luminova, a glow-in-the-dark pigment, which also outlines the date display.

The RM 67-01 requires extensive machining and work by hand to produce each individual watch. Photo: Richard Mille

All of these fine details call for days of work by Richard Mille’s watchmakers in Switzerland to craft and refine each timepiece, both by machine and by hand. The case requires 68 stamping operations for the bezel, caseband and back bezel, with a multi-day machine tooling process. That is followed by hand-brushing and polishing of the piece as part of the final finishing and testing phase, which takes another eight hours.

The RM 67-01 is one of the most time-intensive and complex creations not only for Richard Mille, but also for Swiss watchmaking in general. With that kind of pedigree, it promises to be the pride of any watch collection, and sets an example for the avant-garde timepieces of tomorrow.

  • The RM 033 Automatic Extra Flat took the Swiss luxury brand in a more formal direction with an elegant, round timepiece
  • With the RM 67-01 Automatic Extra Flat, the watchmaker built a thinner version of its iconic tonneau-shaped design, using mechanical advancements created in-house