G-Forces At Work: Richard Mille’s RM 36-01 Competition G-Sensor Sébastien Loeb
Richard Mille is one of those brands where it is all too easy to be simply enamored of the incredible visuals and lifestyle hype. However, although most people don’t really realize it, Richard Mille is one of the most technical of watch brands.
Case in point is the RM 36-01 Competition G-Sensor. This is a watch that flies a little under the radar because it has a round case rather than the signature tonneau shape that has helped build the stellar career of this young brand.
The rotating bezel of the RM 36-01 is crafted in ultra-modern TZP-Z brown ceramic and it actually provides the key to understanding the technology embedded within the innovative tourbillon movement. Under the button in center of sapphire crystal is a g-force sensor that can be manually rotated via the bezel to align it to the required direction.
The “g” in g-force of course refers to “gravitation.” G-force is a measurement of acceleration equivalent of the gravity we feel on earth: one “g” equals 9.80665 meters per second squared, which is equivalent to 9.80665 newtons of force per kilogram of mass.
Why would this very mathematic sounding element be important to the sporty brand ambassador for whom it is named? Sébastien Loeb is one of the world’s best rally drivers.
As we know, Richard Mille has a very soft spot for automobile racing, and many of his brand’s inventions have been based on the outcome of a long friendship with Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, who inspired Mille’s original endeavor to make exceedingly light timepieces that include not only a blazingly hot cool look, but also functions that make practical sense for the race driver.
So when Loeb wears this watch during World Rally Championship (WRC) competition and other motor sport events, he is able to literally see right on the dial of his watch the lateral acceleration/deceleration and longitudinal g-forces he experiences when racing around corners, as well as acceleration and braking g-forces on the straights.
The g-force sensor built into the movement comprises an impressive 50 components while measuring just 17 x 10.25 mm. Its function is to display the number of Gs accumulated by the driver during various phases of a race or training session. The direction of the g-forces to be measured is set by turning the bezel; the sensor operates on the principle of mass displacement.
The g-force sensor, which displays forces all the way up to 6 Gs, is directly connected to both the bezel and the sapphire crystal. If the scale embedded within the bezel is in green (signaling “mild”), it is displaying that the acceleration/deceleration is safe. Red indicates the g-forces are at a critical threshold for the driver.
The wearer can easily reset the scale by simply pressing the big titanium button positioned right in the middle of the sapphire crystal.
Despite its extreme user-friendliness, the movement of the RM 36-01 Competition G-Sensor is a complicated one requiring complex assembly and regulating procedures. A portion of the movement is located directly on the Grade 5 titanium, PVD-plated, skeletonized base plate, while other components are attached to the moving bezel and anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
The free-sprung balance with variable inertia and large 10 mm diameter balance wheel are a proven combination in offering both excellent precision and shock resistance. These are set within a one-minute tourbillon boasting something no other tourbillon has ever dared: a ceramic endstone, perfectly fitting with the overall “latest technology” feel of the timepiece and its ultra-modern, technical movement.
And despite all the high-tech, one element never gets short-changed on any watch by Richard Mille: the polishing, beveling and finishing of each and every component by hand.
For those looking to get this extreme functionality in the Richard Mille signature tonneau-shaped case, the brand has just released a “Bubba Watson” version of the G-sensor, named after the brand’s golf ambassador. This is a limited edition of 50 pieces measuring 42.7 x 49.94 x 16.15 mm.
Case: carbon nanotube and titanium, 47.7 x 17.37 mm
Movement: manually wound Caliber RM36-01 with one-minute tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes; rotary g-force sensor, power reserve indicator, function selector
Limitation: 30 pieces