The new RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley makes us 😀 (but the price is 🥴).
What We Know
Richard Mille definitely knows how to make a splash – and how to irritate the purists. As if to symbolically represent its happy position as a fantastically lucrative watchmaker, and to gently troll all the haters who are just so mad about that fact, the most recent RM is a happy-face collaboration with licensing company Smiley. It arrives just in time for the 50th anniversary of the world’s most famous ideograph.
A man named Harvey Ball designed the famous yellow grinning visage back in 1963. Smiley, founded by Franklin Loufrani, licensed it in 1972 and now owns the rights to this little guy in more than 100 countries. Smiley has done licensing deals and collaborations with the likes of Dior, Fendi, Reebok, Champion and countless others including, now, Richard Mille. It’s a bit of a stretch to commemorate the “50th anniversary celebration” of a licensing agreement, but we’ll go along with it for now.
The gold Smiley most certainly steals the spotlight on this watch but there are so many crazy things happening here I’m not quite sure where to start. The new in-house automatic Caliber CRMT7, which took three years to develop, is mostly obstructed from view or rather hidden behind the little fluffy clouds. Unlike most skeletonized watches, the movement wasn’t the central visual feature at play, so RM designed a new skeletonized movement that left enough free space for all the teeny-tiny gold sculptures which were supposedly produced by engraver Olivier Kuhn, although I’m convinced they were made by Borrowers.
We’ve got the sun. A cactus. An umbrella. A pineapple. A rainbow – actually, two rainbows. This watch is what would happen if you randomly mashed the emoji in your keyboard and then squished them into a watch case.This RM is as three-dimensional as it gets. It’s kind of like a very expensive grown up Polly Pocket. Each “sculpture” is hand-finished. The micro-blasted pineapple has tiny green PVD-coated leaves. The cactus spines have been hand-polished one by one to remove the PVD coating. The flamingo’s eye is positioned using the world’s smallest beading tool.
The figurines are positioned onto a baseplate, and fixed using various types of attachments. They are placed at an angle in order for whoever owns this thing to be able to see as much surface area as possible – and also to ensure that each component stays truly three-dimensional. The Smiley itself is assembled on a decorative rainbow-varnished bridge, lending the impression that it floats above the movement, like a benevolent heavenly body smiling down upon the watchmaker’s work.
There is a small seconds hand, decorated with a sun at one end and a lightning bolt at the other which makes one rotation around the cloud per minute, plus a function indicator at 3 o’clock which shows the winding (W) and hand-setting (H) positions as the crown is pulled out. The power reserve is about 50 hours. The price is $1.2 million.
If we turn to the caseback we can see the lightning-bolt-shaped rear bridge, made of grade five titanium, and the sun-shaped oscillating rotor in 3N yellow gold. All of this sits inside an ATZ (alumina-toughened zirconia) white ceramic and red gold case. The velcro-fastened strap is a yellow woven fabric in the original smiley-face yellow.
What We Think
“Excuse me, I think my heart just stopped” – the actual words that came out of my mouth when the RM88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley was released a couple of weeks back. Dramatic I know, but this is basically the watch of my dreams. Tiny colorful charms and a gold happy face inside a white ceramic case, and on a yellow strap, with a tourbillon hidden behind the clouds. Am I dreaming? What kind of acid-mad horological hippie came up with this?
I love the Smiley. It has played such a huge role in popular culture over the past five decades, from the original “Have A Nice Day” slogan pin right up to LSD, and Hacienda rave culture. Countless variations have also achieved cult status: Nirvana’s squiggly mouth and cross-eyed smiley, Justin Bieber’s present-day Drew House logo, apparel from brands like Kapital and Market, and our very beloved iPhone emojis.
This iconic symbol is always part of the zeitgeist. It’s never not cool. Richard Mille just made it even cooler.
Do I wish this watch cost less than a house in Miami? Of course. Richard Mille watches are so youthful and playful that the extremely adult prices often seem like a prank. Some of us would love to see a lower-priced spinoff brand, like a Tudor to RM’s Rolex, a diffusion line if you will. Maybe that’s the key to making this conceivably adult fantasy land achievable. But as with so many watches, price is largely theoretical. Ultra-expensive timepieces are, as a wise man once said, just as well viewed as objects to be admired rather than to be owned. And with that perspective, I would be very 😁 to go Hands-On with this one. It might even be enough to make me put down my 📞.
The Basics Brand: Richard Mille Model: Automatic Tourbillon Smiley Reference Number: RM88 Diameter: 48.15 mm x 39.74 mm Thickness: 13.30 mm Case Material: ATZ ceramic and red gold Dial Color: Skeleton Lume: YesWater Resistance: 50 meters Strap/Bracelet: Yellow Textile
The Movement Caliber: CRMT7 Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and function indicator. Diameter: 32.10 mm x 29.00 mm Thickness: 5.70 mm Power Reserve: around 50 hours (± 10%) Winding: Automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) Jewels: 23
Pricing & Availability Price: $1,220,000 Availability: Via Richard Mille Boutiques Worldwide Limited Edition: 50 pieces
SHOP THIS STORY For more information about Richard Mille watches, visit their website.