Richard Mille RM 68-01 Cyril Kongo


Richard Mille RM 68-01 Cyril Kongo

RM 68-01 Cyril Kongo

Historic collaboration between the artist Cyril Kongo and Richard Mille
La Cote des Montres - June 21st, 2016

A veritable “work of art for the wrist”, the new RM 68-01 Tourbillon Cyril Kongo watch will make horological history. For the first time ever, an artist has transferred his universe of the tremendously large to the heart of a watch movement.

The RM 68-01 is the outcome of Richard Mille’s desire to introduce contemporary art within haute horlogerie in an unprecedented manner. Indeed, this tourbillon calibre is more than a watch, insofar as it also serves as a canvas for the inspiration and creativity of street artist Cyril Kongo. Never before has a work of art thus taken shape on the bridges and baseplate of a watch, becoming a truly integral part of the timepiece. Richard Mille and Kongo succeeded in taking an art essentially associated with large-scale urban murals and translating it for the horological world of micromechanics and precision, thereby making a leap from city walls to bridges, baseplates and sapphire dials of watchmaking.

Kongo: “I come from graffiti. All my work originates there. It was my school for painting, I learned in the street. I need to remain in touch with that world while at the same time looking at what’s happening elsewhere. Graffiti is a language with its own codes, a form of writing, whether this be on a gigantic wall, on canvas, or any other surface. I am not a painter bound to a single space, nor to any particular surface.”

It took more than a year to develop the painting technique used by Kongo. A special airbrush was developed to allow the artist to spray his colours with the utmost delicacy, one droplet at a time. To avoid jeopardising the calibre’s equilibrium, essential to its functioning, the weight of the paint had to be strictly determined beforehand.

This significant challenge involving all the teams collaborating on the RM 68-01 project resulted in the creation of a unique palette of brightly coloured indelible paints that adhere perfectly to the titanium components and can endure assembly and dismantling.

Kongo: “It took the development of special tools, and over a year of experimentation for me to be capable of painting on a watch some five centimetres (two inches) square. Certain pieces were barely a few millimetres long, some even smaller, and I had to put the lettering directly on them, enough for visual effect but without using much paint so as to avoid throwing off the balance of the movement. It’s as though, starting from a complete automobile, I had to paint the chassis, the engine, each piston etc.”

This production technique made it possible to draw lines barely visible to the naked eye and impossible to create directly by hand, even if certain motifs were sketched using pens with especially fine nibs. Regardless of the technique, every component of each watch was painted in the hues of the man known as Mr Colorful.

The RM 68-01 demanded that Kongo rethink his approach to graffiti in order to adapt his artistic vocabulary for the extremely limited surface of a calibre. His real triumph lies how he makes it possible to contemplate his work from every aspect of the piece.

“He has pushed back the furthest boundaries of horological technique,” pronounced Richard Mille. “This is exactly what I wanted, to bring Kongo into a watch. He wasn’t content simply to apply paint to here and there. Cyril Kongo made it his own, from the movement to the tourbillon, by way of the case and dial.”

On the back of the watch we see the central form of the tourbillon movement’s baseplate radiating outwards like a splash of paint physically thrown against a wall, while from the front the different movement bridges can be seen arcing in different directions like the wild brushstrokes found in street art murals. Housed within a case comprising an NTPT Carbon caseband with black ceramic bezels, the asymmetric case design tapers in two directions—in thickness from 9 to 3 o’clock and in height between 12 and 6 o’clock. The RM 68-01 combines contemporary mechanical and visual arts in a truly exceptional expression of 21st century timekeeping.

Known internationally under the pseudonym Cyril Kongo, the graffiti artist Cyril Phan was born in 1969 and presently resides in Paris. A self-made man and artist, he launched himself to the top of the French artistic and cultural world as well as Europe and beyond within a space of a just a decade. His mastery of the discipline and his over twenty years of membership in the MAC CREW collective have established him as one of the legendary, major representatives of the world’s graffiti scene. Over the course of time, he has developed and expanded his artistic vision and approach cumulating in a fully articulate artistic maturity not defined merely by graffiti. Inspired by frescos and wall paintings, he has, in essence, transformed graffiti as a genre.

Limited to 30 pieces worldwide.
Références : RM 68-01 - RM68-01 - RM 068-01 - RM068-01

Tourbillon Richard Mille RM 68-01 Cyril Kongo

Technical specifications

Limited edition of 30 pieces.

Caliber RM68-01: Mmanual winding tourbillon movement with hours and minutes.

Dimensions: 50.24 x 42.70 x 15.84 mm.

Main features


Power reserve: Circa 42 hours (±10%).

Skeletonized baseplate and bridges in grade 5 titanium
The baseplate and the bridges have been finished in grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible, highly corrosion-resistant and remarkably rigid alloy, which enables the gear train to function effortlessly. The alloy is 90% titanium, 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium. This combination enhances its mechanical properties, which explains its frequent use in the aerospace, aeronautical and automobile industries.

The skeletonized baseplate and the bridges have been subjected to intensive and complete validation tests to optimize their strength and resilience.

Hand painted movement
The RM68-01 caliber is entirely hand-painted by Cyril Kongo and treated with spray paint in his highly developed graffiti style, guaranteeing a unique visual impact never before found combined with an exceptional haute horlogerie tourbillon at this level.
Each watch is individually taken to hand by the artist, creating a unique timepiece.
On the back of the watch, the central form of the tourbillon movement’s baseplate radiating outwards like a splash of paint physically thrown against a wall, and from the front the different movement bridges can be seen arcing in different directions like the wild brushstrokes found in street art murals.

Free sprung balance with variable inertia
A free sprung balance with variable inertia and a terminal-curve spring guarantees greater reliability in case of impacts as well as providing superior long-term chronometric results.

Fast rotating barrel (6 hours per revolution instead of 7.5 hours)
This type of barrel has the following advantages:
  • The phenomenon of periodic internal mainspring adhesion is significantly diminished and performance is thus enhanced,
  • Provision of an excellent mainspring delta curve with an ideal power reserve/performance and regularity ratio.
Barrel pawl with progressive recoil
This device permits an appreciable winding gain (circa 20 %), especially during the start of winding. It also aids in the even distribution of the mainspring’s internal tension.

Winding barrel teeth and third-wheel pinion with central involute profile
The wheel with a central developing profile and a pressure angle of 20° promotes rolling movement more effectively, compensates differences between centers, ensures excellent torque transmission and provides a distinct improvement in performance.

Spline screws in grade 5 titanium for the bridges

These screws age well and enable better control of the applied torque during initial assembly and disassembly during servicing.

Other features
  • Movement dimensions: 30.50 mm x 28.70 mm
  • Thickness: 8.39 mm
  • Tourbillon diameter: 10.90 mm
  • Balance wheel diameter: 10.00 mm
  • Number of jewels: 19
  • Balance wheel: Glucydur, with 2 arms and 4 setting screws, moment of inertia 11.50 mg.cm², angle of lift 53°
  • Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
  • Balance spring: ELINVAR by Nivarox®
  • Shock protection: KIF ELASTOR KE 160 B28
  • Barrel shaft in nickel-free Chronifer (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S), with the following characteristics: stainless – non-magnetic – tempered
TZP black ceramic was chosen for the RM 68-01 ‘s bezel and caseback. This low-density material (6g/cm³) is highly scratch-resistant and has a low thermal conductivity coefficient. Constituted of 95% yttrium-stabilised zirconium, TZP has a pronounced grain that provides the perfect finish. A long and difficult machining and grinding process using diamond tools is necessary to create the complex forms of the bezel and caseback, which are given a final matt surface finish.

The caseband is in NTPT carbon, a material composed of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by dividing carbon fibers. These layers, with a maximum thickness of 30 microns, are impregnated with resin, then woven on a special machine that modifies the direction of the weft by 45° between layers. Heated to 120°C at a pressure of 6 bars, the NTPT is then ready for machining. When compared to composite materials, whose exceptional physical properties are already well known, NTPT® carbon improves breaking strains by 25% and the occurrence of micro-cracks by 200%. The RM 68-01 case is water resistant to 50 meters.

The asymmetric case design tapers two directions - in thickness from 9 to 3 o’clock and in height from 12 to 6 o’clock.

It is assembled with of 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.

Spline screws in grade 5 titanium for the case
This permits better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly.
These screws are therefore unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly and age well.

Torque limiting crown
This additional security system prevents from accidental overwinding, which could cause damage to the winding stem or putting extreme pressure on the mainspring barrel.

Upper flange in grade 5 titanium with black galvanic treatment and hand painted by Cyril Kongo.

  • Bezel side: in sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with anti-glare coating (on both sides)
  • Thickness: 1,50 mm

  • Case back: in sapphire with anti-glare coating (on both sides)
  • Thickness: 1.20 mm at the centre and 1.95 mm at the outer edges
Hands: In metal, rhodium plated and satin finished by hand.



  • Baseplate and bridges in grade 5 titanium microblasted
  • Hand-polished beveling
  • Microblasted milled sections
  • Stretched upper surfaces
  • Polished sinks
  • Hand painted by Cyril Kongo
Steel parts
  • Wire-drawn and microblasted surfaces
  • Hand-polished beveling
  • Long strokes above
  • Long strokes on sides
  • Polished sinks
  • olished and lapped ends
  • Burnished pivots
  • Hand painted by Cyril Kongo
  • Concave chamfering with a diamond tool
  • Circular decorations on the front surfaces
  • Gilding (before cutting the teeth)
  • Minimal corrections are made to the wheels to preserve their geometry and overall performance