Dancing queens: Richard Mille presents the disco collection
A look at the new RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman
It was two years ago that Cécile Guenat, the director of creation and development at the Swiss watchmaking brand Richard Mille, presented her debut collection.
The RM 71-01 was influenced by a combination of modern and traditional design, and was forceful in look. Now, it goes technicolour. And takes the verve of 1970s disco, and the glamourous women who became synonymous with it, as inspiration for a new iteration: the new RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman.
“I always wanted to work with colour,” says Guenat, “and the Talisman collection template presented an exciting challenge, to transform its black-and-white vocabulary into something totally different.” In the past, coloured stones had usually been reserved for special editions; this time they are the central focus and no-holds-barred.
Ten watches span a rainbow-bright palette of exuberant stones: sapphires, tsavorites, rubies, amethysts and, for the first-time at Richard Mille, hematite - which is a silvery black ferric mineral that can be polished to a high lustre.
The contrast effect between all the tones and textures makes for a discotheque diffusion around the wrist, positively mimicking the sequin-strewn and lamé disco fashion of the time, all hyper-realistic, expressive and flashy. Indeed, that had been the idea - to capture the spirit and freedom of the era; the rise in club culture and the glamour of Studio 54, the vibrancy, colour and iconoclasts that came with it.
Each watch is named after a noted name of the culture. “These personalities need only a first name to recall their enduring legacies - Bianca, Grace, Carmen, Gloria, Paloma, Liz, Jessica, Jane, Diana, Donna,” says Guenat, who of course is referring to Jagger, Jones, D’Alessio, Gaynor, Picasso, Taylor, Lange, Fonda, Ross and Summer, respectively.
The brand is no stranger to supporting pioneering women and counts Cristie Kerr, one of the most decorated women golfers in history; Ester Ledecká, the Olympic-winning skier and snowboarder; and Diana Luna, another top female golfer; among its friends and partners. The history of Studio 54 had immediately appealed to Guenat when she began work on this collection, and she had found herself listening to disco, funk and R&B. “This collection is so different from anything we’ve done before,” she says, noting that the Bonbon collection (2019) had introduced Richard Mille to a more colourful and fun aesthetic.
Limited to seven pieces per model, all watches feature the self-winding in-house CRMT1 tourbillion calibre with a diamond-set oscillating weight. Bianca channels rock ‘n’ roll royalty, set with pink sapphires, tsavorites, peridots and diamonds and paired with a dial plate of tsavorites, peridots, rubies and hematite and pink opal, with an index in diamonds, pink sapphires, peridots and tsavorites.
While Diana’s all-star aura is captured with sapphires, rubies and diamonds on the case and crown with a dial plate of rubies, lapis lazuli, white mother of pearl and turquoise and an index in sapphires and rubies. And Jane, a champion of activism, is cast in sapphires, yellow and pink sapphires, diamonds and spessartites and the dial plate in rubies, spessartites, yellow sapphires, diamonds, turquoise and opal with the index in diamonds, yellow and pink sapphires and spessartites.
“The stones themselves proved a considerable challenge,” says Guenat of a process that took more than six months in research and placement consideration. Each stone had been specially selected by the director for its symbolic qualities. But the watch design extends beyond that, too. There is also a focus on the bracelet element. Coloured metallic patent leather embossed with understated botanical motifs at the 12 o’clock and geometric emblems at the 6 o’clock. Again, the colour use is compelling, pioneering and empowering. While, technically, the collection incorporates the Calibre CRMT1, the eighth in-house movement from Richard Mille, also its first automatic tourbillion movement.