At Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello, Italy, on July 5, Richard Mille debuted its first piece with the automaker. The crowd was taken aback as soon as the first image of the watch shown on the screen.
The RM UP-01 Ferrari set a new record for ultra-thinness, breaking all previous Richard Mille watches, which are normally bulky, skeletonized, and extremely complicated. The watch is called UP, which stands for Ultra Plat (French for “ultra flat”). It is only 1.75mm thick, or approximately the same as a compact disc, narrowly beating Bulgari’s 1.8mm-thick Octo Finissimo Ultra, which made its debut in March.
The jaw-dropping price tag of US$1.88 million for the RM UP-01 Ferrari, in keeping with the brand’s reputation for exorbitantly costly timepieces, is no less extreme.
Engineers flipped Mille’s iconic tonneau form on its side and blew out the dimensions to make the movement as flat as possible, measuring 1.18mm and weighing 2.62 grams, in order to fulfill Mille’s vision of creating the thinnest watch in the world. The watch’s total weight, including the band, is a mere 30 grams.
The UP-01’s time display is in a sub-dial at the top center, and the balancing wheel is visible at the top right. The watch is 51mm across and 39mm from top to bottom. Two crowns—one for winding and the other for setting—have been built into the case as movement wheels and ringed with black ceramic inserts that guard the bezel against wear because a standard stem-winding mechanism with a crown was too thick.
For winding, a specific tool is provided, but your finger works just as well. The only reference to Ferrari is a laser-engraved black cavallino, the brand’s famous prancing horse, on the right side.
Julien Boillat, the company’s technical director for cases, notes design echoes in line with the brand’s distinctive characteristics even though it doesn’t resemble the Richard Mille watches we’ve seen over the past 20 years. The 13 spline screws that hold the case components and strap together, the finishing, which includes beveling, satin-finished, polished, and micro-blasted sections, and the recognizable tonneau shape, even if it has been flattened and moved horizontally, are a few examples.
The UP-01, a limited edition of 150 units, was first conceived as an idea on a piece of paper roughly five years ago, but the majority of its development occurred over the last two and a half years. The idea was suggested when the brand courted Ferrari in 2020 to persuade them to sign the cooperation agreement.
Production director at Richard Mille Yves Mathis said, “We introduced this watch concept to Ferrari when we met in summer 2020, and we said this is a project we are starting to explore, and we think it makes great sense to do this with you. In other words, they were involved before we ever signed the contract. January 2021 saw the official signing of the agreement.
The celebration that took place at Ferrari’s official test track, the Fiorano circuit, with inventor Richard Mille and Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz in attendance, was the result of the production of numerous prototypes and more than 6,000 hours of development and laboratory testing.
Richard Mille, which debuted in 2001 with the slogan “a racing machine on the wrist,” may not have any other former Ferrari watch partner with a more enduring connection to the sport. The cutting-edge timepieces that Mille’s firm makes are greatly influenced by his love of motorsport.