Richard Mille RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake Watch Hands-On

The nickname of this highly exclusive Richard Mille watch is “Mark of the Beast.” It refers to Olympic runner Yohan Blake’s track name which is “The Beast,” given to him as he sprints with his fists open as though brandishing claws. Blake is also a Richard Mille brand ambassador, the latest in a line of athletes that Richard Mille has forced to wear delicate expensive watches while they perform. This was little bit of marketing genius was popularized when people noticed Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal wearing a Richard Mille while playing (and winning). At about a half million dollars in retail value, this little court accessory was a bit of a shocker to many people.

The RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake isn’t the first Yohan Blake watch. During the 2012 London Olympics Blake wore a prototype that looked like a Jamaican flag-colored version of the Nadal watch. That piece is actually being auctioned off for charity at the OnlyWatch 2013 event in September. It was not until after the Olympics did Richard Mille eventually release the limited edition RM 59-01 watch, and it sure looks different than the prototype. I hope Yohan loves green this much.

I ran into Yohan wearing his Mark of the Beast watch and a smile. He and Usain Bolt are sort of friendly competitors, coming from the same place and two very fast runners. I believe that Usain Bolt still has the speed edge. Bolt happens to be a Hublot brand ambassador (who created a watch for him). Though Yohan’s watch beats Usain’s in terms of price (for sure). The most noticeable element of the RM 59-01 watch is of course the four bridges on the front and rear of the movement. Richard Mille claims these are meant to look like claw marks. But with their little bulbous ends and green and yellow hue, they remind me a lot more of a frog’s foot. Perhaps a Red-Eyed Tree Frog, the tips of the hands would match the little amphibian’s eyes. I mean let’s be frank, this watch is frog themed. And every frog out there is probably proud, though they did have that cool MB&F HM3 Frog watch to honor them.

After you check out the unique bridge design you no doubt notice the case material. Richard Mille once again seeks to offer something new with the translucent green case on the Tourbillon Yohan Blake. To me it looks like crystallized green tea, complete with leaf particles. No, in fact those little particles are “carbon nanotubes,” and apparently suspended in the injection molded polymer, they give the case 200 times more “resistance” than steel. Though Richard Mille isn’t totally clear on what it is more resistant to. I’d guess shock maybe?

The greenish case is very lightweight, but not as light as Richard Mille’s Rafael Nadal watches which are pretty insanely light. Richard Mille doesn’t offer a specific weight value, but suffice it to say that you’ll not consider this at all a burden on your wrist. What helps is that much of the movement is made from titanium. The customary Richard Mille tonneau-style case is 42.70mm wide by 50.24mm tall, and 15.84mm thick. I always enjoy how Richard Mille offers this extremely precise level of dimensional measurement. This is why you pay the big bucks right? All those other plebeian brands only measure down to a half millimeter.

So does the case look like plastic? Pretty much. But so do a lot of Richard Mille’s more exotic case materials. You have to hand it to them that they’ve been able to “luxurify” obscure industrial materials and terminology. But then again, that is a lot of what luxury is about, especially when it comes to watches. Basically, the act of buying into an emotional sense of technical prowess and performance regardless of its practicality. Richard Mille excels at that, and does a good job getting even the most cranky watch journalists to praise their pricing models.

At the end of the day very few people can afford this stuff, and that number goes down even lower when it comes to the pool of people able to afford Richard Mille’s top products. They know that, and that is their niche. So inside the RM 59-10 watch is a tourbillon movement – of course. It is the Richard Mille caliber RM59-01 manually wound movement with just the time. Power reserve is about 48 hours, and all manners of exotic metals are used in the construction of the mechanism.

The tourbillon is somewhat hidden under one of the “claw” bridges and acts as the seconds hand. It operates at 21,600 bph and contains a lot of titanium and anitcorodal aluminum. All of that is about weight reduction. Nothing particularly new with the movement here, but when you combine Richard Mille and someone moving very fast then a tourbillon is practically required.

If you like nature colors then you’ll love Tourbillon Yohan Blake. Those green, black, and yellow Jamaican flag colors in the RM 59-01 also make for a damn nice jungle watch. I’d wear this to the zoo, in the Amazon, or even visiting my local reptile pet store. Though if I did the shop owner would be remiss not to try and sell me his most expensive animal. Yohan’s wristwatch isn’t at all cheap. In fact, it is whatever your favorite term for the opposite of “cheap” is. As a limited edition of 50 pieces, the Richard Mille RM 59-10 Tourbillon Yohan Blake watch retails for $620,000.

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