Richard Mille and Ferrari unveil world's thinnest watch

Step aside Piaget and Bulgari – Richard Mille now holds the record for world’s thinnest mechanical watch with its RM UP-01

Thinnest watch in the world - Richard Mille UP-01

On the basis that high-end watch brand Richard Mille was only halfway into a 10-year deal as the official watch partner of McLaren, it was intriguing to discover in the spring of 2021 that it had signed a new contract to run concurrently – with Ferrari.

Richard Mille’s watches have long been sold as “racing machines on the wrist” and – not least because of their enormous price tags – are worn by the world’s leading drivers.

Some, including Felipe Massa, Martin Brundle and Sébastien Loeb were brand ambassadors long before the McLaren partnership was struck, since when RM watches have also been officially worn by Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris (who famously had his stolen at Wembley during the 2020 Euro final).

But watch pundits have been wondering what Richard Mille could actually do to make its first watch for Ferrari stand out. With the RM UP-01 Ferrari we now know.

The RM UP-01 is a radical departure for the brand in that the large majority of its watches to date have been sizeable pieces of engineering that have relied on exotic materials to ensure very light weight. The new Ferrari watch, however, is not only remarkably light (it weighs 2.8 grams) but almost unbelievably thin – so thin, in fact, that it now holds the record for the thinnest mechanical watch in existence at just 1.75mm from top to bottom. That knocks ‘established’ flat watch specialists Piaget and Bulgari out of the picture (the latter by 0.05mm) while also introducing a completely new method of watchmaking.

Side view of thinnest watch in the world - Richard Mille UP-01

Err, has anyone seen my watch?

Ultra-flat watches of recent times have utilised the movement baseplate as the back, but the RM UP-01 succeeds in retaining the ‘traditional’ method of assembling the movement within a separate case. This was achieved by creating a mechanism in which space is saved by eliminating a particular plate and guard pin and developing an ultra-flat escapement with a titanium balance fitted with six minuscule calibration weights.

The watch was designed this way in order to improve shock resistance and the RM UP-01 is claimed to be capable of standing acceleration forces of up to 5000g.

As it’s so thin the watch can’t have a conventional winding crown. Instead, it uses two that are set flush on top of the watch. The upper one is used to select ‘winding’ or ‘setting’ modes, while the lower one carries out the required action.

The watch is a remarkable piece of micro-engineering and, surprisingly, a relatively large number – 150 – will be made. Each with a price tag 10 times the size of a Ferrari Roma.

Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari, £1.75m plus taxes


TAG Heuer Monaco purple dial watch

Another day, another limited edition of TAG Heuer’s fabled square- cased chronograph that was named after Monaco but became famous because of Le Mans (you all know the Steve McQueen story by now). This new version of the 39mm watch gets a dial in smoky purple. Just 500 will be available and they can be bought only from selected stores. The purple lining of the alligator strap lends a regal touch, while accuracy and reliability are assured thanks to the Calibre Heuer 02 self-winding movement.

TAG Heuer Monaco Purple Dial, £5950


Tudor Ranger watch

The new Tudor Ranger represents an affordable antidote to the Richard Mille, left. Launched in July to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the two-year British North Greenland Expedition – whose team members were equipped with Tudor’s first water- and shockproof watch, the Oyster Prince – the Ranger offers a vintage look with a chronometer-certified in-house movement. Superb value for money, it can be had on straps made from leather or olive green woven Jacquard or a matching steel bracelet.

Tudor Ranger, from £2170