Reflecting the creativity and artistic fiber of Cécile Guénat, director of women’s collections at Richard Mille, the new RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman is a series of ten very exclusive jewelery watch, each published in 5 pieces. All are adorned with a different art dial, imagined as a geometric object endowed with magic, and are animated by the first automatic tourbillon caliber developed internally by the watchmaker.
This watch, featuring an in-house automatic tourbillon movement, embodies the vitality of the brand commitment to the feminine. The mechanism incorporates a new automatic tourbillon that is slim, ultra-high performance and enhanced with sparkling diamonds, mother-of-pearl, onyx and black sapphires. The ten variations of the RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman weave together the cutting-edge technicity specific to Richard Mille and the unique sculptural qualities of fine art jewellery, highlighting their respective strengths.
It’s all about the art of surprise and wonder, the inexorable desire to create. ‘We are known for our incredibly technical, high-performance watches that draw inspiration from the automotive and aeronautics industries, even though women’s watches have represented a considerable percentage of our sales for several years now. That said, we needed a modern, creative and talented young woman to inject new energy into our status quo and take the women’s collection to new heights. It was Cécile Guenat, the daughter of my friend and business partner Dominique, who met this challenge by overcoming technical obstacles, freeing herself from consensus and establishing a unique and resolutely contemporary style’, shared Richard Mille.
To understand, one must go back three years to the beginning of this adventure, when Cécile, now Ladies’ Collection Director, was first asked to join the company and design new creations. The challenge proved irresistible for the young woman who earned her spurs in the world of fine jewellery. After graduating from the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD), she gained experience with a jeweller in Lausanne, then with a London jewellery designer, where she created collections for a number of Couture houses and branded designs. From initial sketches to the choice of stones, Cécile Guenat demonstrates the meticulous attention to detail that conjures luck by sheer talent and passion.
Talisman. A name that evokes nothing less than magical protection. This collection was born from a magnetic alchemy at the intersection of Tribal arts and Art Deco. ‘My work is the fruit of very different influences. In designing this collection, I drew not only on Art Deco, but on the Tribal arts-masks, African sculptures, etc.—whose impact on all great modern and contemporary artists has been enormous. The contrasts, geometry, and sacred character of these objects fascinate me all the more because they prefigured today’s design through the fusion of content and form,’ confides Cécile Guenat. The notion of a collection took shape very early in the initial sketches. Thus emerged a number of interpretations, with ten different variations on the case and dial. Cécile Guenat chose to glorify the skeleton movement through the many possibilities for setting and engraving the case. Heightened by sparkling stones, the shape of the dials reveals two deliberately distinct worlds, one that is organic and the other more urban.
A masterpiece in every sense, the RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman abolishes the distinction between jewellery and its case. The movement, dial and case maintain an aesthetic, technical and visual dialogue in each version. ‘Yet to truly put the launch in a class of its own, we needed to combine the exceptional design with technical prowess, hence the brand’s very first automatic tourbillon movement! It is not the existence of this specificity that is of principal concern so much as the extraordinary technical characteristics—the performance, reliability and breathtaking finishes’, explains Richard Mille. With this horological tourbillon, the brand inducts the Calibre CRMT1, its eighth, in-house calibre. The baseplate protecting the tourbillon’s rotation remains open to preserve transparency. Skeletonised and tonneau-shaped, with a thickness no greater than 6.2 mm and a weight of just 8 grams, the Calibre CRMT1—housed in a case of white or red gold—is clothed in titanium.
Throughout the workshops there is an agreement: beauty must be such that the self-evidence of the finished piece erases the painstaking labour and hours spent at the workbench. ‘The first challenge was to produce an automatic tourbillon movement that could be housed in the narrow, curved case of an RM 037. The second was to meet all our standards in terms of performance, be it chronometric results, automatic winding or shock resistance.’ explains Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements. Far from a fragile item, this ladies’ watch is ‘designed to be worn day-in day-out, precisely because it has an automatic winding mechanism,’ points out Salvador Arbona. ‘Its architecture is unobtrusive enough to bring the dial, hands and accessories to the fore.’
A forceful graphic idiom
Cécile Guenat was adamant about offering jewelled fittings to match the mechanical sophistication of the brand. Never has a piece called upon so many different crafts: jewellery artisans, dial-maker and watchmakers were put to the test by the complexity of this extraordinary piece. While the artisanal and artistic combine their expressions in the skeletonisation, settings and production of the dials, the mechanism itself here serves to articulate ideal proportions. Thus interconnected, something magical takes place when the wheels engage.
The RM 71-01 radiates in all directions, but by no means any which way. Each and every segment of stones systematically extends or echoes one of the movement’s internal vectors. Each of the 10 dials crowns the central portion of the tourbillon. Each dial, a mere 0.9 mm in thickness, is hand set. This component is an immense technical challenge because of the many different finishing operations required: sandblasting, polishing… and all this in a very small area arranged on several levels. The bezel is adorned with diamonds in permutations that vary in the number, shape and size of the stones according to the version. The caseback is engraved with matt bands that contrast strikingly with the brilliance of the stones and the high polish of all other surfaces.
The new RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman captures the passage of time in all its myriad facets, a scintillating amulet. True to its name, though by no means foregoing the more mechanistic qualities inseparable from the brand, it serves as a talisman, accompanying the woman who wears its graceful lines through each and every day (407 000 €).