Richard Mille RM 65-01 Split Seconds Automatic Chronograph: How Many Clicks Does It Take?
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Well . . . it depends.
It turns out that this question was more than an extremely memorable advertising campaign; it was a cultural phenomenon. At least three universities and a junior high school have conducted official experiments with varying results, and boundless numbers of others across the internet have made less rigorous attempts to discern the answer as well.
A few popular YouTube personalities – Mr. Beast and MatPat from The Food Theorists among others – have also conducted widely viewed experiments to find the answer. The ten most watched videos attempting this have been viewed more than 9.5 million times, meaning that people really, really want to know the answer.
The answer depends on a lot of variables. According to the Food Theorists video, the amount, temperature of saliva, and length of lick are some of the biggest factors leading to disparities between experiments. A few have gotten as low as 98 licks, while some of the highest numbers reach into the 800s (usually resulting in very sore tongues). It seems the average is somewhere in the mid-300s when not optimizing for factors but still being diligent about consistency.
However, since Tootsie Pops are never 100 percent consistent coming out of production, and every human is unique, results will inevitably vary. In the world of lighthearted and mostly meaningless scientific experiments on sugary lollipops, this type of inaccuracy is perfectly acceptable. But if you were using these results as a benchmark for consistent measurement of some performance capability, it just would not do.
That’s why Richard Mille doesn’t use Tootsie Pop lick count as a standard of measurement when developing incredible new chronographs. Because that would be insane.
Instead, Richard Mille spent the last five years working with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to develop an entire spectrum of innovations for the brand-new RM 65-01, an automatic split-seconds chronograph continuing the brand’s tradition of making very capable chronographs for extreme sporting environments.
The Richard Mille RM 65-01
At its core, the RM 65-01 is the latest in a proud line of rugged, structurally advanced chronographs from Richard Mille. In basic terms, it is an automatic, split-seconds chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers that displays the date and includes a function selector, rapid winding mechanism, and variable geometry winding rotor.
On top of that, the RM 65-01 features the brand’s now-characteristic Carbon TPT case and a movement made with extensive titanium components for lightness and rigidity. Perhaps most surprisingly, it is not a limited edition but part of the permanent collection.
This description doesn’t quite convey what is so awesome about the RM 65-01 since it does feel right in line with what Richard Mille does so well in all of its other watches. But when you dig in, it becomes clearer why those five years of development were worth it.
For me, it all begins with the variable geometry winding rotor and the rapid winding mechanism. These two elements combine to show that the Richard Mille team thought at length about the best ways to incorporate automatic winding into a split-seconds chronograph, a first for the brand.
Just adding a basic automatic mechanism wasn’t enough for the engineers and watchmakers behind the RM 65-01; no, they wanted to make sure that the movement lived up to the harsh demands of motorsports as this is intended to be a racing chronograph.
Since using the chronograph function drains a mainspring extra quickly, and the RM 65-01 uses a 5 Hz balance (more on that in a bit), this resulted in a couple key decisions. First, the power reserve has been pushed to 60 hours all while the barrel turns 20 percent faster in its rotation (6 hours per rotation vs. 7.5 hours). This helps provide higher and more consistent torque during the bulk of its power reserve.
This is crucial for a chronograph that is designed to be stable, consistent, and precise. It also helps to avoid the mainspring sticking to itself (from the slow unwinding) inside the barrel and altering the power output, a problem many may not even be aware of. If you take those changes and add in the variable geometry winding rotor, the watch becomes better at staying optimally wound.
Variability as a feature, not a bug
The idea behind this invention is that users have different lifestyles so they wear the watch differently. The wrist of someone who is very active will wind the watch much more quickly, but the watch will also spend much of the time continuing to wind the mainspring (which has an automatic declutch feature), thereby adding wear on the system.
The variable geometry rotor can be adjusted to one of three positions (by a watchmaker) by moving a set of weights more toward the center of rotation or in the opposite direction, toward the rim. For an active person, the inner position would be best as it generates less energy, thereby winding a little slower and offsetting the activity of the wearer.
Should the owner be less active and not provide as much body movement to keep the watch wound (an actual problem with some who wear their automatic watches while performing desk jobs), the weights can be moved toward the outside, which generates more energy from the rotor.
A simple system in function, it is a clever way to account for varying activity levels of the owners. But even after optimizing the watch for your lifestyle, you may still want to wind the watch fully at a moment’s notice, and this is where the rapid winding mechanism comes in.
The user can choose to wind the mainspring manually through the crown or let it wind automatically by the oscillation of the rotor. But now for the first time there is a third option. The rapid winding mechanism is a push button located at 8 o’clock allowing the wearer to – you guessed it – rapidly wind the mainspring without touching the crown.
It does take 125 clicks of the button to fully wind the mainspring from empty, but in real life the mainspring is likely to be already partially wound, resulting in fewer licks, ahem, clicks being necessary.
I imagine that most owners will completely wind the watch before engaging in an activity that requires the chronograph for a decent length of time to ensure that it has consistent torque and enough power reserve during use. The push winder is an interesting addition and demonstrates a perspective not normally considered.
Against the grain
Another choice that Richard Mille made is a variable balance wheel oscillating at 5 Hz (36,000 vph) to make the measurements more precise (1/10th of a second divisions versus the more common 1/8th of a second) and more consistent.
Higher frequency protects against shocks and disturbances better because the intervals are shorter, allowing for a faster return to rate after a bump, and the rotational speed of the balance resists deviation of rate thanks to inertia. Richard Mille helps with that stability even more by opting for a full balance bridge in titanium, adding rigidity to protect the balance assembly during heavy action.
Brands often choose a 4 Hz (28,800 vph) balance wheel for chronographs because it wears less as parts are moving less often: a difference of 7,200 vibrations every hour adds up quickly, saving over 63 million oscillations in one year alone. Little differences make a big difference at these scales. But when you are making a racing chronograph, especially one with a split-seconds mechanism, accuracy and speed matter most.
Adding to the precision and consistency of the 5 Hz balance is the use of both a column wheel and a vertical clutch for the chronograph mechanism. This shouldn’t be surprising at this level as its additional complexity of manufacture and adjustment are more than made up for by the technical advantages of smoother operation and avoiding jumps of the second hand from a horizontal clutch.
This also comes down to the fact that Caliber RMAC4 is derived from the Vaucher VMF 6710, which is designed around this mechanism layout, providing a solid base for the two companies to develop a very cool offshoot for the RM 65-01.
That caliber has been put through its paces as well with a whole variety of shock and drop, magnetic field, and accelerated aging tests to simulate ten years of use. After passing all internal checks it is sent to an outside lab, which redoes the tests and confirms the results. The benefit to the wearer is a super solid watch with five-year warranty, a must for a watch making the performance claims of the RM 65-01.
Using the Richard Mille RM 65-01
Caliber RMAC4 is shock protected with rubber mounting spacers in the case, straying from the typical solid metal or hard polymer ring often used to secure movements.
User interaction with that movement is also new: a pushbutton on the crown allows the function selector to switch between crown modes, providing a more technical interface – the previous system consisted of pulling out the crown. The crown switches between winding mode, date mode, and time setting mode, all coded to match the dial colors for each respective function.
The date window and selector are green as is a rubber inlay in the crown, indicating that the crown is to be used to adjust the date mechanism. This follows with the winding setting in red, which matches the rapid winding button (at 7 o’clock) and another rubber inlay in the crown.
The only departure is the time-setting indication in yellow. The hour, minute, and seconds are all highlighted with yellow, but the crown (which is used to adjust the time) lacks a yellow feature, though I doubt this would confuse anyone. Instead, the hand tips are yellow.
All the rest of the details follow their applicable color schemes: the chronograph features orange highlights with the start/stop and reset buttons flanking the crown marked in orange; the split-seconds hand is tipped in light blue with the split-seconds button (at 11 o’clock) also bearing the same coloring for its markings.
These details make the RM 65-01 feel very race inspired; modern racing steering wheels have so many color-coded buttons that the inspiration is hard to miss.
Case of the Richard Mille RM 65-01
The case is typical fare for Richard Mille at this point, made entirely from Carbon TPT (Thin Ply Technology) with red Quartz Carbon TPT used for the rapid winding button and titanium for the other buttons and crown.
The watch is also available in red gold and Carbon TPT, which would change the feel to an even more high-end aesthetic while remaining very mechanically oriented. This is obvious from the movement architecture, which is always extremely modern and finished in a very clean, but non-traditional, black PVD coating, blasted surfaces, and straight graining.
The RM 65-01 represents the natural evolution of chronographs at Richard Mille and highlights a continued dedication to improving functionality in extreme environments and activities. The ruggedness and durability of Richard Mille watches is hard to ignore, and the RM 65-01 offers interesting innovation to the already awesome lineup.
While the RM 65-01 is not limited, in practice it will be limited by production capability, making it a watch you are unlikely to see in the wild.
Given the lingering effects of travel bans, I’m unlikely to spend much time with this watch this year but I am definitely excited to visit Richard Mille again and play with this awesomazing creation.
While we wait, I’ll try to overcome the titanium and carbon and break things down! Perhaps I’ll go find a Tootsie Pop to help pass the time.
- Wowza Factor * 9.1 Most Richard Mille watches inspire a certain amount of wow from a viewer and this one is no different. The movement alone is worth the price of admission!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 89.98» 882.402m/s2 A split-seconds chronograph alone would be cool, but everything in the RM 65-01 makes for a watch that will keep you up till the wee hours lusting after a carbon and titanium extravaganza!
- M.G.R. * 67.5 The chronograph is a majority of this movement, yet it’s not the parts that excite me the most, making this a very geeky movement that gets a very high rating!
- Added-Functionitis * Severe Beyond the chronograph and split-seconds functionality we also find the date, rapid winding, and function selector, making it necessary to take a healthy dose of prescription strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the race-inspired swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 11.05 Watching your brand-new smartphone fall silently to the hard concrete and landing perfectly flat, face down, and hearing the dreaded slap! Many know this pain, and while it hasn’t happened to me in a long time, a friend recently had this happen and my entire body shivered just hearing about it. Mental anguish is a special type of ouchy and it leaves invisible scars. Still, I’d gladly take that pain every day if it meant getting this on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Variable Inertia Rotor! When you first see a very cool idea that you had never thought of, there is a moment of pure enjoyment unencumbered by thoughts, simply pure feelings. Seeing some of the details on the RM 65-01 definitely made me feel that joy, and I came out of it ready to say I do!
- Awesome Total * 1,225 Start with the number of clicks the rapid winding mechanism needs to fully wind the watch (125) and multiply by the frequency of the balance in Hz (5), then add the number of components in the 65-01 (600) and the result will be one serious awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.richardmille.com/collections/rm-65-01-automatic-split-seconds-chronograph.
Quick Facts Richard Mille RM 65-01
Case: 44.5 x 49.94 x 16.10 mm, Carbon TPT or red gold and Carbon TPT
Movement: automatic Caliber RMAC4 developed with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, 60 hours power reserve, 36,000 vph/5 Hz frequency with free-sprung variable inertia balance, rapid winding, variable geometry rotor
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, split-seconds chronograph, function selector
Remark: 5-year guarantee
Price: $310,000, available exclusively at Richard Mille boutiques worldwide
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