12. time-keeper


Less heavy

RICHARD MILLE RM 50-03 MCLAREN-F1

March 2017


Less heavy

Less than 40 grams. That’s eight sheets of standard A4 paper, or two small slices of bread. At 39.55 grams, the RM 50-03 McLaren-F1 is quite simply the world’s lightest mechanical chronograph.

H

ow was this achieved? Thanks to graphene, a nanomaterial six times lighter and 200 times stronger than steel, which was isolated in 2004 by Andre Geim, a physicist working at the University of Manchester, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2010 for his discovery, along with Konstantin Novoselov.

Less heavy

When graphene is injected into TPT carbon it considerably reduces the carbon’s density, while simultaneously increasing its strength. The 600 layers of parallel filaments, each no more than 30 microns thick, which make up the carbon fibre, are injected with a graphene-rich resin. The layers are then assembled by a CNC machine, which adjusts the orientation of the fibres by 45° between each layer. After being heated to 120°C at a pressure of 6 bar, the composite is solidified.

Richard Mille has access to this technology through its close relationship with the McLaren Technology Group and McLaren-Honda, which work together to incorporate graphene into their Formula One racing cars, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, McLaren Applied Technologies and North Thin Ply Technology.

The movement on its own weighs just seven grams. This is achieved by using a combination of grade 5 titanium and TPT carbon for the plate and bridges. Extreme skeletonisation of the components does the rest.