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Full throttle: the new Richard Mille RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic

Celebrating 100 years of Le Mans, the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic is limited to 150 pieces

I was sat in one of those French beach town steel chairs just off the promenade in Nice in 2018. As always in France, the people watching is world class. Sipping on my oat flat white I witnessed a sight that has long stuck in the mind. An older French gent, possibly in his 70’s, exuding effortless elegance in a chambray shirt, thick rimmed glasses and shined JM Weston loafers. But the last thing I expected to see on his wrist, you guessed it, a Richard Mille.

In many ways, I thought perhaps as an “FU” to those that may have told him in his former years what to do – what to wear – what to do with his life. The sense, at least to me, was he was doing to it, not because he was on social media racking up the “likes” – but because he loved the lightness of the watch – its genuine versatility and design statement. Above and beyond the obvious technical achievements Richard Mille always brings to the table. I just can’t but help admire the brand for its unapologetic – full bore design. No colour, no theme off limits, and in many ways, it was the pioneer. So this week when it announced a new Le Mans Classic watch – I was intrigued.

Richard Mille and Le Mans Classic joined forces back in 2002. Now in 2023 celebrating 100 years of Le Mans and we have the all new RM 72-01 LMC – limited to 150 pieces (no doubt they will fly!). Although the design and layout of the new Richard Mille RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic is largely the same as the original RM 72-01 that debuted in 2020, the use of green and white Quartz TPT (a composite material that consists of hundreds of fine silica threads that are woven at a 45-degree angle and bonded together with resin before being cut and machined to shape) gives the new model a different vibe, with contrasting green segments between the screws on the front and back components of the case. The RM 72-01 is Richard Mille’s current flyback chronograph model, and it has been offered in a handful of different materials and configurations. A key design distinction here is the ’16’ on the 24-hour counter, which is underlined in red, a nod to the traditional start time of the endurance race.

The new RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic measures 38.4mm in diameter by 11.68mm-thick, with an overall lug-to-lug distance of 47.34mm. Held together by spline screws in grade 5 titanium, the case components are made from green and white Quartz TPT. Once cut, the exposed weave of the threads gives Quartz TPT components an asymmetric wavy appearance that is somewhat similar to the black and gray lines that are characteristic of carbon fiber components. Richard Mille explains: “Watches have been specifically developed for every edition since 2008, each one in the event’s colours. This edition, the RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic, is no exception in joining all the previous editions that have all become collectables.”

Powering the new Richard Mille RM 72-01 is the same Caliber CRMC1 automatic flyback chronograph movement that can be found inside the various other watches from the RM 72-01 series. Featuring a variable inertia balance with its mainplate and bridges in grade 5 titanium, the Richard Mille Cal. CRMC1 also includes a solid platinum rotor, and it runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours (perfect for any race). What that really means is that you have a wonderful looking movement to admire from the comeback but also a supremely considered technical machine.

This Richard Mille RM 72-01 Le Mans Classic retail’s for just over £260,000 and will no doubt be that personal statement of intent in the world to let the heart lead – not the head.

Want to learn more about Richard Mille watches? Read the story behind the man and the brand…

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