Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille is unrelenting in its commitment to the creation of new materials. The latest fruit of its labors is the introduction of grey Cermet, a material as light as titanium but nearly as hard as a diamond, in the new RM 11-05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT timepiece. Cermet’s physical properties are widely recognized in other industries, where it is used in ballistic protective gear, external aerospace fuselage components, and the brakes of competition vehicles.
When considering the material’s use in a product that would be worn on a person’s skin, some adaptations had to be made for health and safety. Nickel and cobalt, for example, which are normally used in this family of hard materials, were excluded in order to adhere to REACH standards, which ensure safety in the production and use of chemicals in the European industry. It took many years of development for Richard Mille in partnership with microtechnology specialist IMI Group to remove these undesirable binders and only retain suitable materials. The result is a dark grey material with a density of 4.1 g/cm3 – less than that of titanium – and a hardness of 2,360 Vickers – almost the same as diamond’s 2,400 Vickers. Those properties make Cermet an ideal choice for use in watch bezels that are very exposed to scratches, while maintaining overall lightness. The tripartite case of the RM 11-05 gives pride of place to Cermet in the form of its top bezel, while grade 5 titanium and Carbon TPT® comprise the rest of the case back and case band. The 11-05’s functions include a GMT display that can be adjusted by a pusher at 9 o’clock, a 24-hour flyback chronograph, and an annual calendar. Presented on a rubber strap, and limited to 140 pieces, the new timepiece is available at Richard Mille boutiques worldwide.