Timekeepers Club / September 30, 2022

Richard Mille RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley

The smile, universal and multivalent, is fundamental to our social interactions; an expression of our innate desire to connect with others. Like the little yellow face that appeared in 1972 in the pages of the French newspaper, France Soir which rapidly went viral, the Smiley conveys positive energy. It is a symbol of communication that comes to life today in the effervescent world ofthe RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley.

This new in-house automatic tourbillon calibre is highly technical and creative and took three years to develop. Each of its decorative elements are cheerful emanations ofthe Smiley world: a blossoming flower, the warm rays of the sun, a delicious pineapple, a blooming cactus, a pink flamingo and a brightly-coloured rainbow. A festive cocktail to be savoured drop by drop, as the drinking glass in this neon pop scene suggests.

The RM 88 Smiley bears witness to a succession of technical and aesthetic challenges that were successfully overcome. The dimensions and weight ofthe gold micro-sculptures created by the engraver Olivier Kuhn required particular care, as the assembled parts, each weighing less than a gram, must withstand every type of shock. It was then necessary to determine how to arrange the objects in the three-dimensional space around the central motif, the Smiley, not only to maximise their effect but also to facilitate their insertion by the watchmaker.

The solution was to equip the RM 88 with two baseplates: one technical, to support the movement, and the other auxiliary, to secure the ornamentation on the left-hand side of the dial. This second baseplate was subsequently mounted onto the movement and serves to present the objects on an inclined plane for added volumetric effect.

The second challenge faced was the conception of a movement that allowed enough free space to display the multiple protagonists ofthis scene with optimum impact, as befits the level of finishing bestowed on them. The new CRMT7 calibre, a skeletonised automatic tourbillon movement with hour, minute and function displays, was developed in house. 

Its bridges and micro-blasted baseplate are made of grade 5 titanium, to ensure rigidity and flatness. The bridge ofthe explosive micro-blasted, bevelled and drawn-out tourbillon is graced with a complex double PVD coating in black and gold, a finish that is replicated on the bridge at the back ofthe baseplate, accentuating its lightning bolt form. 

With every minute,the figurative small-seconds hand alternates between rain and fine weather. It glides its way over the ARCAP cloud affixed to the tourbillon and then hides beneath a small cloud in microblasted and satin-finished white gold. It re-emerges once again at the foot of a cheerful rainbow designed in four different types of gold. The rainbow itself has an alternated microblasted and drawn-out finish and represents 25 hours of craftmanship.

The striking Smiley figure in micro-blasted and painted yellow gold, presides over this landscape from atop the additional motion-work bridge in microblasted ARCAP® with polished anglage and drawn edges. Featuring a larger echo of the rainbow motif, it gleams with faint reflections thanks to hand-applied varnishes, contrasting with its anthracite-coloured rhodium plating.

No effort has been spared in the finishing, down to the tiniest detail of each element in this display. The cocktail glass is an assembly of four parts, all in gold. The umbrella, the olive (1.7 mm in height), the 0.4 mm-diameter grooved straw – all polished – and the glass itself, its base micro-blasted to create the chilled glass, weigh a total of just 0.4 g. The gold flower above is mirror-polished, its petals brushed and rhodium-plated.

The pink flamingo, 0.2 g of red gold, also undergoes multiple processes: its wings are polished and its feathers traced with the tip of a Dégussit grinding stone; its eye is made using the smallest beading tool in existence; its pedestal is micro-blasted and the part that depicts the grass and water is polished. The component is given a metallic pink PVD coating before the beak is painted black using a brush.

The quest for perfection is ever-present, as demonstrated by the green PVD-coated leaves, the microblasted and polished surface of the pineapple, the microblasted spines of the cactus in yellow gold, polished one by one to remove the PVD coating, and the sun, in microblasted gold with polished rays. In keeping with watchmaking tradition, all finishing operations on the RM 88 Smiley are carried out by hand.

Such splendour of colour and scenography, both front and back, deserved a setting that would do justice to the composition. The case is made of white ATZ ceramic – well known for its resistance to scratches, shocks and abrasion, as well as for its eternal whiteness – whilst red gold was employed for the caseband. The crown bears the precious Smiley sculpted in yellow gold.

The RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley, with its three-dimensional aesthetics and splendid colours, takes on the vivid quality of a waking dream. A playfully colourful, poetic and lively creation limited to 50 watches. An enchanting masterpiece whose positive vibrations convey a universal language, that of the smile.

Technical specifications

Richard Mille RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley

Limited edition of 50 pieces


  • Material: ATZ white ceramic and 18k 5N red gold
  • Dimensions: 48.15 x 39.74 mm
  • Thickness: 13.30 mm
  • Glass: Sapphire crystal (1,800 Vickers) with anti-glare treatment (both sides)
  • Water-resistant to 50 metres

Dial and hands

  • Openworked
  • Flange: In black PVD treated titanium, set with white diamonds and blue sapphires


  • Manufacture Calibre CRMT7
  • Skeletonised automatic winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes and function indicator.
  • Movement dimensions: 32.10 x 29.00 mm
  • Thickness: 4.80 mm
  • Number of jewels: 23
  • Balance: CuBe, 4 arms, 4 setting weights, moment of inertia 7.5 mg•cm2, angle of lift 50°
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Balance spring: AK3
  • Shock protection: INCABLOC 908.22.211.100 (transparent)
  • Baseplate and bridges in grade 5 titanium
  • Free-sprung balance with variable inertia
  • Rotor in 3N yellow gold
  • Fast-rotating barrel (5 hours per revolution instead of 7.5 hours)
  • Involute gear-teeth profile
  • Spline screws in grade 5 titanium for the bridges and case
  • Flange in black PVD-treated titanium, set with white diamonds and blue sapphires
  • Power reserve: around 50 hours (±10%)


  • Hours, minutes
  • A function indicator. The active position is indicated via a hand at 3 o’clock.

Strap and buckle

  • Yellow textile strap

MSRP: USD 1'220'000

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