The 2011 Richard Mille RM 029 Automatic Big Date offers RM’s signature tonneau case, an expertly skeletonized movement, and an oversized date module. Soon to be available in three versions of its mildly oversized body, the RM 029, as always, is going to be -ahem- reassuringly expensive and deliciously exclusive: just what we like, right?
As you can see for yourself, the RM 029 features the same easily recognizable design as their other barrel-shaped timekeepers.
Aggressively styled with its sandwich-style body secured with eight screws with proprietary star-shaped heads, the case makes a particularly strong impression.
Although looking massive in these photos, it can be called medium-sized measuring less than 38 millimeters in width and just 48 millimeters lug-to-integrated-lug. Combine that with a surprisingly low profile of just 12.6 mm top to bottom and an organically curved profile, and you get yourself a watch that not only looks cool and smart but is also comfortable on an average wrist.
Perhaps, the only department that this nicely styled brushed titanium (pictured, also available in much more expensive rose or white gold variations) body lacks is water resistance. Rated for just 50 meters, it looks sporty but is designed to be used only as a dressy accessory.
On the other hand, given its price of more than €80,000, trying to use it as a “tool” would not be a good idea.
However spectacular their cases are, Richard Mille’s main selling point has always been superb movements that power them. To animate this fresh RM 029, Richard Mille has constructed a self-winding Caliber RMAS7. “Inspired” (their word, not mine) by their older RM 011 chronograph caliber, the new mechanism was aggressively skeletonized revealing not only the mechanism’s base plate but also providing a superb view of the big date complication.
To make the resulting feather-light lacework rigid enough to keep the movement working, Richard Mille’s engineers made its baseplate, bridges, and balance-cock out of grade 5 titanium.
Noticeably stronger than and almost as light as pure titanium, this alloy of aluminum, vanadium, iron, oxygen, and titanium is widely used in the aerospace industry and medicine.
By the way, the main idea behind this fancy oscillating weight is that its shape (and thus the center of mass) can be adjusted to deliver the best winding efficiency on movement longevity depending on whether you prefer a sedentary or more active lifestyle.
To ensure that the parts stay corrosion-free and withstand wear, RM subjected them to a proprietary Titalyt treatment. In two words, they employed an electro-plasma oxidation process, which makes the metal’s surface harder.
Unlike some other skeletonized timepieces made by Richard Mille, the RM029 probably won’t stun you with its impressive legibility. With its open-worked hands sporting only small patches of Superluminova on their tips and competing for your attention with peculiarly styled Arabic numerals, the dial is a bit difficult to read in certain lighting scenarios. Sometimes, it could even be a bit annoying when you would have to waste an extra moment trying to decipher the data.
Au contraire, the Big Date display, which is neatly located closer to the 4 o’clock position, is extremely easy to read thanks to bold black numerals printed over bright white background.
The RM 029 comes on sale later this year in a standard for the brand tonneau-shaped case, which will be available not only in titanium (pictured,) but also in white gold or rose gold. The price starts at healthy €80,000 (USD 100,000) for a version in a titanium case and will probably reach the stratosphere with the versions in gold.
Build quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: Richard Mille
Richard Mille RM 029 Big Date specification
Price: Starts at €80,000 for a version in a titanium case
Movement: Automatic, caliber RMAS7, skeletonized, variable geometry rotor, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 32
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Power reserve: Approx. 55 hours
Case: Rose gold / White gold / Titanium
Dimensions: 48.00 mm x 37.70 mm
Case height: 12.60 mm
Dial: Black, skeletonized
Hands: Open-worked, luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black rubber
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective