Credit: Monochrome Watches

It’s no secret that we love watches. It’s not just the precision engineering and incredible craftsmanship that goes into creating high-end time pieces that we admire and love, but also the fashionable side to them, not to mention the lifestyle they encompass. At 8Js, we take inspiration from the world of motorsports, often in an environment where the noise is deafening, and the fumes of burnt rubber and petrol are slowly entering our system. I’d like to imagine the same could be said for Richard Mille and its first collaboration with McLaren.

The McLaren Formula 1 team is of high significance to us, particularly our founders, the Prosts (need I elaborate?). In recent years however, the team hasn’t been performing at the level it once knew all too well, dominating the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with cars and drivers that wiped the floor with the rest of the field. Commentating as nothing more than spectators, we’re glad to say McLaren is heading in the right direction, and pretty quickly at that. In just a few short years the team has made its way from the back of the pack to a strong position nearer to the likes of frontrunners Mercedes and Red Bull.

Time has flown, and as the last year has shown us, it will continue to do so. In our world of motorsport time is everything. Be it recording flying laps, pit-stops, measuring aerodynamics, or even handing out penalties, the competition is built around time. And no-one builds time-keeping machines better suited to high octane sports than Richard Mille.

A polarising brand amongst watch enthusiasts, and undoubtedly revered by the secondary market, Richard Mille truly creates racing machines for the wrist. In 2017, the brand released an all-new watch to mark a ten-year partnership with McLaren. This is the RM 50-03, known for being the lightest split-second tourbillon chronograph in the world, weighing a mere 38 grams (strap included). The watch owes its lightness to the introduction of graphene into the Carbon TPT casing. The RM 50-03 signifies the first-ever use of the nano-material - which is 6 times lighter and 200 times stronger than steel – in watchmaking.

On the subject of weight (or lack of it), the tourbillon calibre itself is only 7 grams. To say that’s 'impressive' doesn’t do the R&D team and watchmakers responsible for such a design enough justice. McLaren uses titanium extensively within its F1 cars, thanks to the material’s density, stiffness, and low thermal conductivity, and by combining grade 5 titanium with Carbon TPT, Richard Mille have achieved an unfathomable lightness for the calibre. This has been furthered through the process of skeletonization. As a result of such radical innovation, the RM 50-03 can withstand shock resistance of up to 5,000 Gs, so before you ask, no, a dive from the top deck of your superyacht really won’t be much of a test…

The dial itself is very legible and tells the reader a host of information. At 3 o’clock sits a function indicator, which displays the active position of the watch: W (Winding) – N (Neutral) – H (Hands). This display was inspired by the gearbox of a car, and to use the word ‘cool’ in this situation is perfect! F1 is all about accuracy, and so the instrument responsible for timing should arguably be the most precise tool in the car. The torque indicator at the top of the dial addresses this, supplying information about the mainspring’s tension. Anywhere outside of the green zone indicates that the movement is not operating at its optimal output, and can put it at risk. Additionally, the dial has a power reserve indicator, displaying when the watch is at full reserve of 70 hours, to when it’s in need of a wind – best you do this before the lights go out.

Richard Mille draws further inspiration from the world of racing through the hollowed chronograph pushers, which evoke the air intake ducts of the McLaren F1 car, as well as the crown of the watch which resembles the car’s wheels. 

The RM 50-03 ticks all of the boxes required for a racing machine on the wrist: lightweight, accurate, and legible. It also holds a righteous place in F1 for its innovation and similarly its inspiration. Despite nearing its 4th birthday already, the watch still represents the epitome of technical innovation in watchmaking, using revolutionary materials and design. However, as with all ground-breaking technology in Formula 1, the watch – limited to 75 pieces – came with a fittingly hefty price tag when new: $980,000. Something on the wish list for all hardcore motorsport fans!

If you’re lucky enough to have an RM 50-03 in your collection, we’d suggest pairing it with our SL03. Sleeveless Jacket for a trackside look, or our ZI20. Navy for a more casual outfit in the warmer months!