Richard Mille: RM 47 Tourbillon “The Time OF The Samurai”5 April 2022
Associating art and spirituality. Creating a new masterpiece designed as an aesthetic tribute to Japanese culture. Richard Mille presents the RM 47 Tourbillon, the fruit of intense reflection and nearly four years of design work. This is an artful watch of a new kind, incorporating an extremely compact calibre, specifically designed to make room for a stylised Samurai suit of armour entirely crafted by hand. The model was born of a friendly conversation between Richard Mille and the twice Formula 1 world champion and brand partner Fernando Alonso, a passionate enthusiast of Japanese traditional arts and the Samurai principles.
This new model transcends creative limits and takes its place in the prestigious lineage of ‘ornamental’ watches typical of the brand. Entirely hand-carved by the engraver Pierre-Alain Lozeron and painted by his wife Valérie Lozeron, the Samurai armour illustrates the different aspects of ancestral Japanese culture. Evoking the spirit of bushido, the Samurai code of ethics whose values still prevail in Japanese society, the armour comes to life in 3N yellow gold, recalling the gold leaf used in ancient Japan to embellish the country’s finest shrines and also certain works of traditional craftsmanship.
Many details make reference to the Asano clan, a family that symbolises the bushido spirit. The chief of the family domain in the 18th century, Asano Naganori, was also the lord of the 47 ronin who avenged his death before following him into the afterworld. Their Kamon, or clan heraldic sign – each Samurai clan has one – is proudly featured on the tourbillon, at six o’clock. Representing two crossed falcon feathers, expressing strength in war and the authority of the suzerain, this emblem is also very finely engraved on the warriors’ helmet winglets. The crown, crafted in titanium, Carbon TPT and polished 3N yellow gold, bears the motif of a Japanese maple leaf, a symbol of the seasons as well as of grace, beauty and the brevity of life. Finally, at the bottom, the two swords, sheathed in their scabbards, point the cutting edges of their blades upwards to be drawn rapidly in the event of danger.
This decoration, which is a work of sculpture as much as a piece of engraving, demanded patience, meticulousness, dexterity and passion. “Between sword and chisel, between the cutting edge of the blade and the incisions defined by the precision of the engraver’s technique, there are many parallels to evoke the similarities between the qualities of these warriors and those demanded by our artistic crafts,” explains Pierre-Alain Lozeron. In total, it takes no less than 16 hours of engraving and 9 hours of painting – in all, more than a whole day – to obtain the 11 components that make up the Samurai, perfectly integrated, front and back, around the movement of the RM 47 Tourbillon.
Like a guardian, the armour provides precious protection for the manual-winding calibre RM47 with hours and minutes and 72 hours of power reserve. To ensure optimal functioning of the movement, the baseplate and skeletonised bridges are made of grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible alloy often used in the aerospace industry, with a black PVD treatment. This combination offers high corrosion-resistance, remarkable rigidity and perfectly flat surfaces.
The RM 47’s movement, case and decoration all bear witness to a design approach intended to guarantee the harmonious and effective integration of all the various elements. The barrel-shaped case comprises three parts with a caseband in 3N yellow gold receiving a bezel and a caseback in black TZP ceramic. With their exceptional aesthetics, the 75 RM 47 Tourbillon watches evoke the spirituality and values of the bushido, while embodying a determined quest for perfection and respect for tradition.