Where seconds count: How McLaren engineering has inspired Richard Mille timepieces

The attainment of success in Formula 1 is the relentless pursuit of technical innovation through precision engineering. Over the past six decades, the McLaren Formula 1 team have been at the forefront of the world’s most driven series with countless accolades to match their legendary status.

Where seconds count: How McLaren engineering has inspired Richard Mille timepieces
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Throughout their history, McLaren have continually innovated in the quest for perfection. Whether it’s cutting-edge design or the use of state-of-the-art materials, the F1 team, backed with know-how from their automotive department, have strived for the highest quality engineering to achieve success on the race track.

On the journey to the top, McLaren have partnered with iconic brands that complement the same perpetual hunger for progress and a continued quest for excellence. None more so than the collaboration with Richard Mille, which since 2016, has led to the development of timepieces inspired by a passion for Automotive and Formula 1.

The engineering principles that founder Bruce McLaren instilled into his company are the same values shared by lifelong motor racing enthusiast Richard Mille. His passion for progress and attention to detail was motivated by his experience of watching McLaren race his own car at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix. Those beliefs are reflected in the technical masterpieces created in the range of chronographs developed by Richard Mille.

It was inevitable that from those early days in the 1960s, at the wheel of his McLaren M2B, that Bruce’s long-term vision would take the team to numerous Formula 1 world championship successes, including over 180 grands prix wins and eight constructors’ championships.

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Over the decades, many of the world’s greatest racing drivers have piloted a McLaren to victory on the race track, including legends such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Alain Prost, Lewis Hamilton and Ayrton Senna. And the Brazilian hero will forever be associated with the company when McLaren Automotive celebrated his talent with the unveiling of the 211mph McLaren Senna.

Launched simultaneously alongside the Senna supercar at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show was the exquisite RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph. Both products not only reflect speed, but are crafted with similar, extreme materials and subtle design elements. Push pieces reimagine the supercar’s headlights; a winding crown mirrors a McLaren road wheel, while the strap incorporates the classic Speedmark logo.

Back on the race track, McLaren were the first team to pioneer space age materials for their F1 cars. In 1981, they made the revolutionary switch from an aluminium to a carbon fibre monocoque, which was both stronger and, more importantly, lighter. Within a few years, every Formula 1 team had made the transition.

Developing new, lightweight materials has also been a goal for Richard Mille. The RM 50-03 tourbillion split seconds McLaren F1 weighs less than 40 grams - including the strap - which makes it the lightest mechanical chronograph ever made. The landmark achievement was mirrored by McLaren’s use of cutting-edge materials in F1. The timepiece design incorporates Titanium and Carbon TPT® and a revolutionary nano-material in the world of watch-making: Graph TPT®, also known as graphene.

Inspired by McLaren’s beautiful grand tourer, the RM 40-01 Automatic Tourbillon McLaren Speedtail has been manufactured with the same shape and spirit of the stunning Speedtail. The technology and performance of the hypercar’s powertrain is reflected in the movement of the watch.

It led McLaren’s Automotive Head of Design, Rob Melville to describe Richard Mille products as the “racing machines on the wrist,” which is also the tagline of the brand, adding: “There are so many similarities in the way we approach a problem, such as saving weight, reducing vibrational impact and minimising resistance.”

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