Natalie Portman’s Arachnid Tourbillon RM 19-01: A Richard Mille Love Story
I love Richard Mille. Not the man (well, perhaps in a way), but his creations. I have loved the tonneau-shaped models from the moment I set eyes on them. They are masculine, sexy, beautifully proportioned, full of new technology goodness and unique in such a way (at least when they were new and other brands weren’t copying their look) that when you have one on your wrist, people instantly know what you are wearing.
No, while I wish I did, I do not own a Richard Mille. But I did have the extremely good fortune to have been lent an RM011 for a few weeks.
So I know what I’m talking about.
The RM011 is a quintessential sports watch: tough, masculine, light, reliable, and sits solidly on the wrist. No joke, when I put it on it felt like an engine starting somewhere inside me: the revving was almost audible!
As I’ve had this experience myself, I can completely understand why Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman would fall in love with the 63-year-old entrepreneur’s designs.
Before the launch at SIHH 2014 of the RM 19-01, a tourbillon co-designed with her, Natalie Portman was often spotted wearing the RM007 (she has been a brand ambassador since 2011).
The RM 19-01 was co-created by Richard Mille and the 33-year-old actress, who is multi-talented and boasts a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Harvard. Portman’s incredible depth includes her active interest in social and political causes: she is an advocate for animal rights, environmental causes, the One Voice movement (working to forge consensus for conflict resolution and permanent agreement between Israel and Palestine), antipoverty activities, and Free the Children, an international charity defending the rights of children all over the world.
It is at the latter that this particular Richard Mille model enters the picture. Portman was interested in creating a strong association with complex undertones. The image of a spider, which may seem as far away from something feminine as could possibly be, was the image Portman chose to express herself. The arachnid exudes strong symbolism in nearly every culture, and, believe it or not, often so in relation to feminine energy.
This has to do with weaving: and no, I’m not talking about weaving cloth, but fate, threads of reality, and strands of mystery.
From Siberia (where Altaic stories represent the spider as the soul released from the physical) to West Africa (where Ghana’s Anansi the Trickster, a spider, is the god of all knowledge of stories) and even to the cradle of modern civilization, Ancient Greece – the origin of the idea of the Fates – the spider and its web are universally understood.
The spider seen within Richard Mille’s iconic tonneau shape is in actuality part of the movement: crafted in 18-karat, rhodium-plated white gold and set with diamonds, its abdomen (opisthosoma) supports the tourbillon bridge, while its legs support the twin spring barrels of the manually wound movement.
The movement is cocooned by the first hand-polished, white gold base plate made by Richard Mille, cunningly shaped like a spider web. The web is set with hundreds of black sapphires for that added bit of bling oomph, though this is only visible from the back. The rest of the movement, including the tourbillon, which comprises a free-sprung balance with variable inertia screws, is built on this intricate web. The white gold base plate has been blackened so as to put the spider firmly in the spotlight.
The bridges are in lightweight black PVD-treated titanium to offset the heavy weight of the diamonds and add more rigidity.
So you see that the movement adds depth and complexity to the intricate, technical design housed in Richard Mille’s signature case. Despite what might seem to be a spooky central figure, this is a watch that will be more at home under the spotlights of the red carpet than Halloween night.
Proceeds from the sales of this timepiece will go to help support Free The Children.
And now I love both Richard and Natalie Portman, though I have not yet had the pleasure of her acquaintance.
For more information, please visit www.richardmille.com.
Case: 46.40 x 38.30 x 12.45 mm, white or red gold, gem-set
Movement: manually wound Caliber RM19-01 with screw-balance tourbillon, 3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indicator (approx. 48 hours)
Price: £382,414 (excluding applicable tax)
Limitation: 20 pieces