When discussing historical figures who shocked and scandalized their era’s societal norms, Swiss watchmakers do not immediately come to most people’s minds. However, the history of horology is rife with “erotic timepieces” — watches that depicted sexually suggestive scenes on their dials, often using mechanical automaton figures to simulate acts of libertine pleasure that would surely have shocked those in polite society. Some such timepieces, which were often banned and confiscated due to their breaking with contemporary moral, religious, and political customs, have survived to this day as rare collectors’ pieces.
Some modern-day watch brands — Perrelet and Graham are recent examples — have put out their own versions of wrist-bound erotica. Now Richard Mille presents its own, very different take on the classical erotic watch: the suggestively named (and numbered) Richard Mille RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon. (Click on photos for larger images.)
The watch does not use automatons or miniature-painted erotica scenes on its dial but opts instead for a rotating display of seductive “naughty talk,” with random but carefully chosen words and phrases inscribed on three grade 5 titanium rollers, the highlight of Richard Mille’s new “Oracle” complication. This function allows the wearer to activate the Tibetan prayer-wheel-like rollers — thus forming a variety of flirtatious phrases that might attain the wearer either a phone number or a sexual harassment suit, depending on the circumstances — on request, by simply pressing the pusher at 10 o’clock. (The photos above and below offer a hint of some of the possibilities.)
The manual-winding tourbillon caliber of the RM 69, designed in collaboration with Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi, has bridges and a baseplate machined from grade 5 titanium. It includes a total of 505 components, including 41 jewels, and is extremely compact thanks to its “Duoplan construction,” which enables the tourbillon (whose carriage rotates at 3 Hz and features steep bridges) and barrel to be aligned on the same axis. The barrel stores an extra-long power reserve of (you guessed it) 69 hours, which is displayed in a new aperture at 4 o’clock in the form of a gauge powered by a planetary differential.
Richard Mille’s engineers have developed for this movement a mechanism that allows the hands to break free from the gear train, the aim being to enhance the visibility of the watch’s main attraction, the erotic messages on its trio of rollers. Just press the push-piece at 8 o’clock to make the hands temporarily disappear; release it to return them automatically to their rightful timekeeping (ahem) positions. Among the haute horlogerie finishes are circular-graining, beveling, and mirror-finishing on several components, hand-polished sinks, and PVD-treated, micro-blasted and satin-finished surfaces.
The Richard Mille RM69 Erotic Tourbillon has a tripartite case made of grade 5 titanium, with generous and ergonomic dimensions of 50 mm x 42.7 mm x 16.15 mm (not that size is everything, of course). A total of 20 Spline screws, also in titanium, are employed in assembling the case and ensuring ensuring its water-resistance to 50 meters. A limited edition of just 30 pieces, this seductive timepiece retails for $750,000 and will be available exclusively in Richard Mille’s 24 boutiques worldwide.