When Richard Mille and Ferrari announced their partnership in 2021, we knew it would result in some truly spectacular timepieces. Watchmaking and racing share many common values, including a continual quest for perfection and always striving to push the limits, even in ways that are infinitesimally small, in the case of watch movements. As far as celebrating a partnership goes, Richard Mille set the bar exceptionally high with the release of the thinnest watch ever made: the RM UP-01 Ferrari.
It measures a mere 1.75 millimeters thick, an exceptional achievement, especially considering it took a different approach than previous record holders. Instead of using the caseback as the mainplate, Richard Mille developed a 1.18mm-thick movement placed in an ultra-slim case. In traditional watchmaking, movement components are essentially stacked atop each other, which is one reason why watches with multiple complications can be so deep. Looking inside a Greubel Forsey watch is like peering into a miniature city skyline.
However, this approach needed to be reenvisioned in the quest to create watches as thin as credit cards. "It was necessary to set aside all the knowledge we had amassed over years of practice and every conceivable standard of watchmaking," said Julien Boillat, Technical Director for Cases at Richard Mille, in a statement. The brand achieved this by collaborating with the laboratories of Audemars Piguet Le Locle. They decided to spread the movement across a broader surface measuring 51mm by 39mm, an unusual East-West shape in watchmaking instead of using the caseback as a mainplate, as the two previous ultra-thin record holders did. In March 2022, Bulgari's Octo Finissimo Ultra clocked in at 1.80mm, besting Piaget's recent record of 2.0 mm for the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Concept
Image: Richard Mille
With such a unique approach, the RM UP-01 Ferrari doesn’t look like a traditional watch, and its design has been rather polarizing in the watch community. Instead of a classic dial showing hours and minutes, the watch has four visible functions tucked into a wet, sandblasted titanium surface decorated with Ferrari’s iconic prancing horse.
At 12 o'clock, there’s a small dial showing hours and minutes. On the right, the skeletonized balance is visible beneath a sapphire crystal. On the left are the unique ways the wearer will wind and set the watch because the watch design didn’t allow for a traditional crown and winding stem. Instead, two function selectors/crowns are integrated into the movement on the left of the dial, and it comes with a key to wind the watch. The top left function selector lets you choose between setting the time and winding the watch. The case is crafted from Grade 5 Titanium, which means its lightness matches the thinness of the watch.
Richard Mille creates wild, fantastical watches, but even the most out-there concepts have serious technical chops behind them. These include the RM 27-01, a tourbillon watch that can withstand the powerful swings of tennis legend Rafael Nadal, thanks to four braided steel cables that suspend and protect the movement. The RM UP-01 can also withstand up to 5,000g and is waterproof to 10m, although we wouldn’t recommend you wear it while swimming.
Image: Richard Mille
Only 150 pieces will be made, each priced at an eye-popping $1,888,000.