Whether you’re at work, an evening soirée, or a glamorous fashion show, there is never a bad time to throw on a statement timepiece to complete your look. Especially when you’re dressed in head-to-toe black, it’s all about having the right accessory to pull your outfit together. That’s how you curate looks that are perpetually chic and forever in style. Although truth be told, accessorising is an art desired by many yet mastered by few. And one style staple you can’t go wrong with—that marries red-carpet glamour with technical finesse—is a snow-set Richard Mille timepiece.
Snow-setting is one of many gem-setting techniques in the world, and the go-to style for Richard Mille simply because it lends an unrivalled, opulent quality to its timepieces, making them reminiscent of a wintry wonderland. Sometimes you have diamonds and others you find coloured gemstones ranging from rubies, emeralds, and sapphires to tsavorites, opals, hematites, and more.
No matter what type or combination of gemstones have been chosen to adorn its timepieces, Richard Mille’s expert gem-setters will first determine what the right setting technique or techniques are, to fully express the innate beauty of these glorious gems.
With a soft spot for and accelerating mastery of this specific technique, Richard Mille is one of the few brands pushing the boundaries and stretching the possibilities of snow-setting in luxury haute horlogerie. Snow-setting gets its unique shimmer which evokes the nuances of freshly fallen snow by combining gemstones of different sizes.
Blanketing the entire timepiece, these randomly-sized stones each catch the light in their own directions, sparking off a reflective dance like flashes of snowflakes in the sun. The manufacture’s feminine timepieces such as the now-iconic RM 07-01 and the RM 037 are a perfect fit to this beautiful setting, thanks to their instantly recognisable cases which come with luxurious surfaces for the precious gem-setting.
Yet snow-setting is no walk in the park. Unlike natural snow, gemstones don’t just organise themselves automatically onto the available surface. Here, they range in diameter from 0.5mm to 1.6mm in size, and it is up to know-how and talent of each gem-setter to ensure that all the stones fit snugly to a micron’s precision, without uniformity and with zero wasted space. At the same time, the setting appears completely natural, as if it were a random pattern. So in this way, every snow-set Richard Mille timepiece is absolutely unique.
In addition to the case, Richard Mille also ensures that the case band pillars as well as the watch’s bracelet are fully snow-set. The latter, known as the Open Link Strap, is as luxurious as it is highly technical. Wrapping around the wrist like a glamorous curb chain bracelet, it is voluminous yet flexible, striking yet timeless. Such a bracelet could not have been easy to set with diamonds—but Richard Mille does it anyway.
Richard Mille revolutionises snow-setting by introducing diamonds set on Carbon TPT, one of the world’s most high-tech watchmaking materials.
Which offers a hint as to how far the manufacture will go to take this artisanal technique to the next level. Moving beyond snow-setting on gold, Richard Mille swiftly introduced diamond set on Carbon TPT in the revolutionary RM 07-01 Automatic Starry Night. Carbon TPT is, of course, one of Richard Mille’s favourite high-tech watchmaking materials. This breath-taking timepiece juxtaposes the moiré effect of damascene patterning against 181 scintillating round cut diamonds and a generous sprinkling of polished 5N red gold drops, some of which function as the prongs that hold the gemstones in place.
Setting diamonds on Carbon TPT is nothing like setting diamonds on precious metals. The hardness and resistance of this material entails special machines and diamond-tipped tools for the mitraillage. Mitraillage is the process where little holes are drilled into the case in preparation of the gem-setting. Stones are set in them, according to size and held fast by hand-polished 5N red gold prongs.
Richard Mille’s journey with the RM 07-01 Starry Night was as enlightening as it was edifying, and it inspired the manufacture to explore more deeply our perpetual fascination with the stars. This year, four new gem-set interpretations of watch arrive in the new RM 07-01 Intergalactic collection.
“It all started with the vision of an explosion of stars taking place in the black darkness,” explains Cécile Guenat, Richard Mille’s creative and development director. “We wanted to rethink our approach to gem-setting as a way of bringing the elements together in an intense way.”
Once again, the manufacture combines diamonds and Carbon TPT with refined touches of 5N red gold. But this time Guenat offers her take on the different moods of our velvety night sky, fine-tuning the degrees of light and darkness according to theme. The RM 07-01 Dark Night for instance evokes the myriad constellations represented through glittering gold prongs. On the other hand, the RM 07-01 Bright Night is a brilliant explosion of light with maximum wattage courtesy of 228 diamonds and 849 gold prongs, along with a solid red gold case band highlighting its sleek curves.
Meanwhile, RM 07-01 Starry Night extends Carbon TPT all the way to the bracelet, and finally, RM 07-01 Misty Night offers a dewy shimmer from 251 diamonds, as well as case pillars and dial inserts in red gold.
“Using prongs as decorative elements is an aesthetic approach that progressively highlights this explosion of light,” adds Guenat. “Like the case bands and the dials, their settings evolve across the collection.”
All four Intergalactic timepieces are powered by Richard Mille’s in-house CRMA2 calibre, which is a skeletonised automatic movement crafted in grade 5 titanium, featuring one of Richard Mille’s signature inventions, the variable geometry rotor. This avant-garde spirit echoes all through the watches, permeating them inside out, allowing every facet of these magnificent timepieces to shine bright like no other, while embracing the intense beauty of black.