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SIHH 2018: Richard Mille - RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough

The encounter between Richard Mille and Pablo Mac Donough, one of of polo’s greatest champions ever, produced exceptional timepieces like the unforgettable RM 053 Tourbillon (you can read the history of the brand following the link at the end of this article).



Polo is a very elegant game but it is also a contact sport where hard knocks are a regular occurrence. In fact, Pablo has sustained a large number of fractures in the course of his career.


In developing the new RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough, Richard Mille sets a clear goal: creating an extremely tough timepiece, while unveiling its calibre. Years of research and studies made it possible to produce a wristwatch - and not a simple one but a  tourbillon! - that can resist the violent blows and shocks arising in a polo match.

Sporty and dynamic, the RM 53-01 reveals a suspended tourbillon calibre, visible through the unprecedented laminated sapphire glass of its Carbon TPT case, a complex armour of an entirely new kind for this high-risk sport.


Well aware that regular glass would not provide the necessary resistance to ward off the impact of a mallet, engineers for the brand, collaborating with Stettler - a world-renowned sapphire specialist - took inspiration from current practices in the automotive realm to produce a laminated glass.

Use of this glass, composed of two sheets of sapphire glass separated by a thin Polyvinyl film, constitutes a horological first. In the face of the strong shockwave produced by a blow from a mallet, the glass may crack, but without ever shattering, as verified during impact pendulum testing, when a metal spike was added to the 4.5 kg weight. The thickness of this glass is 2.40 mm at the centre and 5.69 mm at the edges.


With anti-reflective and UV coatings, this glass - patented exclusively to Richard Mille - is 2.40 mm thick at the centre and 5.69 mm at the edges.

Punctuated by notches that reinforce its structural integrity, the tripartite case (44.50 mm x 49.94 mm x 16.15 mm) is machined in Carbon TPT, a tough and virtually indestructible protection, recognised for its excellent resistance to micro-cracks and tears. The characteristic damascene sheen of Carbon TPT and sharp lines of the case speak to the especially sporty nature of this watch.



The torque limiting crown is an additional security system to prevent accidental overwinding, which could cause damage to the winding stem or put extreme pressure on the mainspring barrel.


The complete case construction is water-resistant to 50 metres thanks to two Nitrile O-rings, and is assembled using 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and 316L stainless steel washers.

To protect the tourbillon from shocks, Richard Mille designed a cable-suspended movement. The atypical architecture of this design required the creation of two separate baseplates. The first, or ‘peripheral’ baseplate, is fixed to the case and supports the tensioner mechanisms. The second, known as the ‘central’ baseplate, is linked to the peripheral baseplate by cables and incorporates the wheels comprising the calibre as well as the winding mechanism.


The central baseplate rests, like a spider in the middle of its web, on two braided steel cables just 0.27 mm in diameter. These cables, sketching a three-dimensional structure in their path through 10 pulleys, are anchored by 4 tensioners.




The watchmaker is responsible for tensioning the cables by rotating a spline screw located at the centre of each tensioner. By ensuring an even distribution of tension, this pulley system guarantees perfect balance of the whole mechanism.

The suspended 3 Hz (21,600 vph) movement and the use of grade 5 titanium (double baseplate and bridges) contribute to increase the stiffness, while ensuring smooth functioning of the going train and optimal shock protection.


Fitted with a free sprung balance with variable inertia, the balance wheel guarantees greater reliability when subjected to shocks and during assembly or dismantling of the movement, thus achieving better chronometric results over time. For a more precise and repeatable adjustment, the index is eliminated and replaced by four setting screws.

The RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough is a limited edition of 30 pieces with a price of Euro 957,000. richardmille.com


Suggested reading:
- History of the Richard Mille brand
- Richard Mille's quest for innovation: hi-tech materials


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Time and Watches: SIHH 2018: Richard Mille - RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough
SIHH 2018: Richard Mille - RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough
SIHH 2018: Richard Mille RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough. The encounter between Richard Mille and Pablo Mac Donough, one of of polo’s greatest champions ever, produced exceptional timepieces like the unforgettable RM 053 Tourbillon. The RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough is a limited edition of 30 pieces with a price of Euro 957,000.
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Time and Watches
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