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In the horology business, watch designers must work against the clock to create timepieces with all the bells and whistles to cater to its growing clientele.
The more eye-catching and unique the watch, higher the chance it would go down in the annals of horology design history.
Since its establishment in 1999, Richard Mille (RM) has gone on to carve a name as one of the trendsetters in the industry. The watches are renowned for its technical innovation as well being statement pieces that blend passion, tradition and style.
At last year’s Salon Internationale de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the brand introduced the Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donoughan, built to resist hard impact. Prior to that, RM launched its split-second chronograph timepiece.
At the SIHH 2019 in Geneva, RM surprised guests with a collection of timepieces that are almost ‘good enough to eat’.
The luxury watch brand has taken the lid off a candy jar to reveal two kinds of confections for the wrist. Themed Bonbon, the tactile collection is dedicated to sweet treats.
Drawing on its expertise in the arena of material, colour and form, the collection comprises two themes – Fruits and Sweets.
Cécile Guenat is the artistic director for the series. A classically trained jeweller, she created the pieces to offer a passage back to childhood with the simple pleasure of tasty memories.
“The idea was to revisit the existing collections while playing with colour. This allowed me to bring out a pop-inspired sense of fun. In all, we developed a palette of 60 colours for this unisex collection,” says Guenat in the press release.
The 10 models display a total of 60 bright and pop colours across the six Carbon TPT and Quartz TPT cases (including the world premiere of a new turquoise hue).
She describes the collection as disruptive, elegant, daring and playful. In a word: creative.
“Bonbon, just saying the word is enough to make you smile. It manages to convey a combination of pleasure, good cheers and sharing all at once. For me, it was truly an opportunity to let loose and have fun revisiting childhood.”
Sweet Childhood Memories
The Sweets collection comprises four models – RM 07-03 Cupcake, RM 07-03 Marshmallow, RM 37-01 Sucette (lollipop) and RM16-01 Reglisse (liquorice).
If you’re a sweet lover, the timepieces will surely evoke fond childhood memories of these delicious morsels.
Under the Fruits collection, there are six flavours – RM 16-01 Lemon and Strawberry, RM07-03 Blueberry and Litchi, RM37-01 Kiwi and Cherry.
There are 16 types of sweets to discover in the collection, with different decoration of confectionery delight unique to each piece.
They come in bright pop-art colours, similar to Tim Burton’s vivid imagination of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in the 2005 movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
At one glance, the Bonbon collection could seem a tad too playful and paltry, especially when compared to previous collections.
But a closer look reveals how RM has zoomed in on micro-realism to create these watches. On some pieces, there are 16 fruits and sweets per dial.
Gumdrops, swirling gelato, marshmallow or barley sugars, these miniatures, are like the two-milimetre liquorice roll, machined from sheets or solid titanium. These minute pieces are handpainted to stimulate the texture of a sugar coating. Each model has its own unique index and flange too.
To create a whole spectrum of flavours when biting into these sweets (think: softness, crunchiness and fluffiness), the brand turns to the mastery of enamel works.
It uses a special grand feu enamel works which involves creating shallow depressions that outline that desired motif in plates of rose or white gold, then filling these with powdered enamel. Extremely high firing or glazing techniques are also applied to produce these artisanal confectionery timepieces.
“Rather than lapidation, we have chosen to sand the grand fue enamel on the RM 07-03 Marshmallow to preserve the volume and appearance of the material itself. This is how we achieve the fluffy quality of the marshmallow on the dial,” explained Guenat, adding it took 18 months to develop the collection.
The dial of the RM 07-03 Marshmallow model is made using a combination of several plates of enamelwork
Other constituents of the decoration are polished to produce the sparkling shine for tart sugar candies like those on the dial of RM 37-01 Sucette and RM 07-03 Cupcake.
“I was inspired above all by the pastel shades and softness of confectionery, which was captured by sanding the enamel, a technique rarely seen in watchmaking.”
All creative timepieces come with two-tone ceramic cases that set off their grand feu enamel or black-chromed titanium confections.
The crowns of each piece (resembling cupcake, liquorice swirl and lollipop) serve as the final ingredient, albeit the cherry on top. To bring to mind a confectionery glaze, the case catch are adorned with rose and while gold. The bezels and casebacks are made of TZP ceramic, which showcase the emblematic three-dimensional curvature of all RM watches.
The skeletonised plates are made of grade 5 titanium, sanded and angled by hand. These mechanical components of the watch are also designed to ensure secure attachment of the inserted miniatures, which had to be tested for risks of loosening due to vibrations and humidity to ensure these sweets would never slip from their lovely packaging.