Most people operate within their own code of ethics of some kind or another, but very few go to the extremes of the Bushidō, the moral code of the samurai that governs their attitudes, behavior and lifestyle. One friend and partner of Richard Mille is two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, who is a passionate enthusiast of Japanese traditional arts and the samurai. It was during conversations with founder Richard Mille that Alonso’s dedication to and understanding of the samurai philosophy inspired the watchmaker to envisage an entirely new project that would take nearly four years to realize in collaboration with a team of artisans from the fields of haute horology and craftsmanship.
The new RM47 is being made in a limited edition of 75 pieces that feature gold samurai armor and swords that have been painstakingly hand carved and painted by husband-and-wife team Pierre-Alain and Valérie Lozeron. The engraving of each piece took 16 hours, which was followed by nine hours of hand-painting. The armor is made from 3N yellow gold and features references to the Asano clan, whom many scholars believe symbolize the true Bushidō spirit. Each clan has a heraldic symbol known as a Kamon and the Asano’s was two crossed falcon feathers to express strength in war and authority. This is featured on the tourbillon at six o’clock and on the winglets of the warrior’s helmet. Another key Japanese symbol, the maple leaf, used to represent grace, beauty and brevity of life, is featured on the winding crown.
Artisan engraver Pierre-Alain Lozeron says, “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.” The armor is around both sides of the manual-winding caliber RM47, guarding it with its sheathed samurai swords as seen most clearly from the front. The hours and minutes movement has a baseplate and skeletonized bridges made in Grade 5 titanium, an alloy often used in the aerospace industry, with a black PVD treatment.
The case of the RM47 is barrel-shaped and a three-piece construction, with a 3N yellow gold caseband to which a black TZP ceramic bezel and caseback are attached. This is one of the hallmarks of Richard Mille past, present, and I expect, in the future too; the fusion of centuries old artisan techniques and philosophies with the most cutting-edge technologies and materials. But this watch is all about the ancient serenity and discipline of the samurai and the artisans engaged to carry out the work seem pretty zen about the whole project: “Spirituality and the values associated with the samurai world are not totally new to us. When at work on my workbench, it is as though I am in suspended animation, it’s almost a meditative state. Between the sword and the 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 similarities between the qualities shown by these warriors and those demanded by our artistic crafts.”
Richard Mille RM47 Tourbillon
Movement: Manual-winding caliber RM47 tourbillon movement; 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon
Case: 3N yellow gold and TPZ ceramic; water resistant to 50m
Dial: Hand engraved samurai armor in 3N gold
Bracelet: Black rubber
Availability: Available in 75 pieces