The playful watch celebrates Franklin Loufrani’s beloved Smiley illustration
Richard Mille’s new timepiece is a reminder to turn your frown upside down.
Dubbed the RM 88 Automatic Winding Tourbillion Smiley, the playful watch houses a micro-blasted, yellow gold smiley figure in a tripartite case. The whimsical sculpture is set among others including a prickly cactus, cocktail glass and pink flamingo. Made to celebrate and emphasise the uplifting values behind the original Smiley drawn by French journalist Franklin Loufrani over 50 years ago, the watch reportedly took three years to make.
The bezel and case back of the watch are crafted from ATZ white ceramic. The material is made from tubes of aluminium oxide powder injected at a pressure of nearly 2,000 bars. ATZ is well-known for being one of the hardest materials in the world, next to diamonds, with high resistance to scratches. In fact, diamond tools were used during the watch’s manufacturing to painstakingly create its curved bezel and satin finish. The RM 88’s case band is made of 18k 5N red gold for a unique contrast.
All of the watch’s colourful micro-sculptures were handcrafted by artisan Oliver Kuhn. The happy ensemble—which also includes a blossoming flower, rainbow, golden pineapple and rays of sunshine—is placed around the central Smiley motif. Each is appliquéd on top of an auxiliary baseplate. The Smiley, however, sits above the others on the motion-work bridge, which features polished anglage and drawn edges.
The eye-catching timepiece can keep up with Richard Mille’s other offerings, too. It’s equipped with the watchmaker’s new CRMT7 calibre, a skeletonised automatic tourbillion movement. It performs at a frequency of 28,800 vph and achieves up to 50 hours of power reserve.
Made of grade-five titanium, the movement’s bridges are coated with a complex double PBD coating in black and gold. This finish also appears on the back of the baseplate, which can be viewed from the watch’s openwork case back. Apart from the watch’s vibrant yellow strap, the placement of the signature smiley on its crown ties the piece together.
The RM 88 Automatic Tourbillion is limited to just 50 units.
This article was first published on Robb Report USA