Golf may not be the most extreme sport, but the force with which professional golfers hit the ball puts great strain on players’ watches, if they wear them at all (most don’t). Tiny pinions, arbors and the delicate balance assembly can be sheared off by the g-forces generated, killing a timepiece outright. Richard Mille, an independent Swiss brand, has been working with golfer Bubba Watson since 2010 on a shock-resistant watch that can handle the strain of the links.
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RM is no stranger to subjecting complicated watches to untold abuses. They’re best known for putting highly complex (and expensive) timepieces on the wrists of tennis champ Rafael Nadal, who’s respected and feared for his wicked topspin and generally vicious style of play. In 2011, the brand released the very successful RM-038 Golfer’s Tourbillon, and this year they’ve undertaken the development of yet another, more functional tourbillon watch for Mr. Watson, the RM 38-01 Bubba Watson. It’s just in time to celebrate his second Masters win in August last month.
Richard Mille, meanwhile, will be celebrating a groundbreaking design: their watch is the first to ever combine a patented G-sensor with a tourbillon mechanism. According to the Swiss brand, the new timepiece will provide unique insights for golfers during their game by recording up to 20 Gs of acceleration. The G-sensor system operates on the principle of displacement of a weight, and a needle on the scale indicates the number of Gs accumulated during a swing.
The mechanical G-sensor mechanism contains more than 50 moving parts within a mere 17 millimeters, which allows the wearer to see the accumulated motion of their swing in Gs. This is a very important observation for golfers like Bubba Watson, who is renowned for his ability to hit a ball at more than 190 miles per hour. The mechanism is integrated into the heart of a manual winding tourbillon movement with around 48 hours of power reserve.
As with any other Richard Mille, the movement is both deeply complex and beautiful thanks to highly skeletonized, asymmetrical flying bridges and plates machined from grade 5 titanium with PVD treatment. The materials chosen ensure rigidity, flatness and resistance for all the moving parts in the watch. Only 50 will be released to golfers worldwide, who will be able to compare their G forces to Watson’s and, very probably, sigh discontentedly. We break down the watch above.