The Paradoxical Enigmatic Truth: The Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 Review
Editor’s note: For nearly a decade now we have curiously anticipated the Only Watch Auction. The 2021 edition doesn’t disappoint! While watches earlier this year had a green theme, this year’s Auction watches seem to have an orange theme. Following the releases from Watches & Wonders 2021, today we present the Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021. Here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…). For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
“In contradiction and paradox, you can find truth,” said Denis Villeneuve.
The Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 contradicts what 18th and 19th-century watchmaking dictates and presents the paradox of owning a watch that is different from anything else around it but in the end, ends up being a time-telling device like every other watch that is also very similar in design language to other RM 67-02 series watches. But it still stands out. Go figure.
There is a Richard Mille quote that summarises the essence of the new Charles Leclerc Prototype quite succinctly: “I work on a razor blade between gimmickry and amazement”.
Lightweight and extra-flat, powered by the calibre CRMA7, it is presented with a white and red Quartz TPT® case. The Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 is a timepiece that from a distance appears to be a gimmick what with its rather large 47.25 x 38.70 x 7.80mm dimensions. But get closer, study the artistry and mechanics that have gone into making this prototype, and you need up leaving amazed.
When looking particularly at the RM Charles Leclerc Prototype, it is also a sort of an enigmatic truth; enigmatic because to be frank, every RM watch has a sense of mystery to it. And truthful because they are perhaps the only mechanical timepieces that sports personalities can use in action.
And this practical side of it makes the Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 even more special. For those who may not be followers of the motor-racing world, Charles Leclerc is a Monégasque racing driver who is currently racing in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari (and hence the relevance of red accents on the timepiece).
Given Charles usage of this watch would be subjected to a fast-paced world of racing, this “automatic, thin, lightweight, coloured, elegant and athletic (timepiece) can be adapted to various sporting challenges,” and the lucky bidder gets to take home — or to their safe — a timepiece that as far as I know not only lived the fast life but has potentially “helped the brand to test new technical solutions for its future models”.
As always is the case with RM watches, it is extremely lightweight, a rare quality in horology. This is also assisted by the use of a seamless and non-slip comfort strap that makes this (and other RM 67-02) timepieces the lightest in the RM automatic watches catalogue.
It is estimated to go between CHF 270’000 – 330’000 and features a 0.40mm thick grade 5 titanium dial that is treated with black DLC coating and is then hand-painted in the colours of Charles Leclerc’s flag. The watch is water-resistant to 30m.
54 brands are participating this year for the 9th edition — the first one was in 2005 — of the biennial charity auction Only Watch, whose aim is to raise funds for research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The auction in collaboration with Christie’s is on 6 November 2021, at 2pm (Geneva time), at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues.
The winning bidder will not only be contributing to this worthy cause but will also get the opportunity to Charles Leclerc and attend as a VIP guest (+1) of Scuderia Ferrari at the next F1 Monaco Grand Prix race.
“The desire to create a watch that was like a second skin for Charles Leclerc, permitting a sort of ‘symbiosis’ with him was the guiding ambition that propelled the development of the RM 67-02”.Press Releases
The Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 features the in-house calibre CRMA7. It is a skeletonised automatic-winding movement that showcases the functions of hours and minutes only (something ironic given it’s worn by someone who would need to time events, so perhaps a chronograph had been more apt).
This 28.40 x 31.25 x 4mm calibre features 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz, comprises a rotor made of Carbon TPT® and white gold that is combined with the OneWay® winding system with ceramic ball bearing, boasts of a transparent INCABLOC 908.22.211.100 shock absorber system, and provides an alright 50 hours (± 10%) power reserve.
The movement is nicely decorated with hand-polished anglage, a microblasted milled section, microblasted sinks, and grey and black DLC treatment on the baseplate and bridges.
That’s All Folks!
“The paradox of simplicity is that making things simpler is hard work”, truthfully said Bill Jensen.
The RM 67-02 launched in 2017, some four years ago. Solely based on how light and sleek — about 32g with strap and 7.8mm — and simplistically functional these sports watches are, and the fact that one can play ACTUAL sports in these, it is the stuff they should teach in horology schools.
And the mere fact that all of these RM 67-02s are made for specific athletes to test out on the field, it seems like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a watch collector to actually get their hands on one.
There is another saying by George Bernard Shaw about paradox that strikes a chord here. “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.” And this makes sense when it comes to my personal ambition and the lack of it at the same time forever owning an RM watch.
I understand that RM watches are not for everyone, and it’s also true that even if I ever had that kind of dough, I would still not buy an RM personally (even more so that I won’t feel safe wearing one of these in public, and a safe queen type of person I am not). But as an architect and a watch lover, I simply can not deny the sheer charm, the workmanship and the talent behind watches like the Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021.
To judge these watches simply based on aesthetics is a bit foolhardy. It is brands like RM, MB&F, Alexander Shorokhoff, H. Moser & Cie, ArtyA, Urwerk amongst others that like who march to the tune of their own distinct and creative fantasies, and it is in this knowledge that I find my task of reviewing watches pleasing.
And those who actually own one generally seem to rave on about how freakin’ comfortable these are on the wrist. In the world filled with divers after divers or traditional looking gold timepieces with Roman numerals and plain enamel dials that could have been made anywhere within the 20th or the 21st century, these stand out.
The only real question then is, and that’s something for you to ask yourself, do these watches stand out like a sore thumb, or they create stand out moments where you simply go, wow! And that I believe is the paradoxical truth when it comes to a watch like this.
To find out more about the Richard Mille Charles Leclerc Prototype Only Watch 2021 and other auction timepieces, please head to the ONLY WATCH 2021 collection website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © Richard Mille 2020. All basic information Copyright © Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies. Make sure to check out our reviews of Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.