Mechanical watchmaking is truly an art, and at no time is that more apparent than when luxury watchmakers flex their engineering skills to design and build impossibly thin functional timepieces free of batteries and electronics. Measuring in at no thicker than a quarter, the new Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari just claimed the world record.
It was just earlier this year when Bulgari revealed its Octo Finissimo Ultra, which earned the watchmaker the world record for world’s thinnest mechanical watch. The last time the record had been broken was back in 2018, when Piaget’s Altiplano Ultimate Concept measured in at just two millimeters thick. Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Ultra shaved less than a quarter of a millimeter off the record, with a body measuring 1.88-millimeters thick.
But now, three months after that achievement, Richard Mille and Ferrari’s new RMUP-01 slims mechanical watches down even further to just 1.75-millimeters thick.
Is there a practical reason for designing a mechanical watch this thin? One can certainly make an argument that the RMUP-01 will feel almost non-existent on the wearer’s wrist, but the real reason it was created was to show that it is indeed possible, plus as an opportunity for the team of watchmakers behind it to brag. As you can probably imagine, making a watch full of cogs and gears and springs inside a case this thin was no easy feat.
Made from grade 5 titanium, which is as strong as steel and twice as strong as aluminum, to ensure the watch is resistant to bends which could easily damage its functionality, the movement inside—all the moving parts that actually allow it to keep time—was co-developed by Richard Mille and another watchmaker, Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, and measure in at just 1.18-millimeters thick.
With so much of the RMUP-01's interior being occupied by its movement and mechanical parts, the new record-holder takes a minimal approach to displaying the time, opting for a tiny set of hands on the face that will be easy to miss with a quick glance. Practicality was not the primary focus of this creation.
In lieu of a crown on the side for winding and setting the time, the RMUP-01 uses a pair of flat dials on the face that are probably easiest to operate with a tool, and despite the focus on miniaturization, this piece is still waterproof to depths of 10 meters. However, with a production run limited to 150 pieces and a an obscene $1,888,000 price tag, it’s hard to imagine anyone willing to both wear this piece and risk it during a swim or a shower.