WOTW: Bubba Watson’s Richard Mille watches over the years

Bubba Watson made a huge splash in 2011 when he started wearing a white Richard Mille RM 038 while playing tournament rounds. Not may golfers wear a watch while playing in tournaments, Phil and Bubba are the only two that come to mind, due to their personal preference or the fact that the golf swing is a death sentence for most mechanical movement watches.

Bubba’s watches have made news headlines because of the stand out white color and the fact that they all pretty much have six-figure price tags. Since 2011, Richard Mille has created a few different models inspired by Bubba Watson and his powerful golf game. I know there have been a few limited edition models for other markets, like the awesome Dark Legend and All Grey Boutique, but we will hold off on those. Let’s take a look the three main Bubba Watson models over the years; The RM 038, RM 38-01, and the RM 055.

The RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson ($525,000)

This was the one that started it all! The white one with the over half-million-dollar price tag. The one that everyone was searching online for. The Richard Mille RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson. Only 38 lucky people on this planet own a RM 038 with its slightly grey tinted, white magnesium case. This timepiece was special because it combined a complicated movement, precise timekeeping, and extreme durability.

The case is made up of three pieces of magnesium WE 54 that is 89 percent magnesium, six percent yttrium, and five percent of rare earth metals. The material is extremely lightweight but very hard to machine, taking much longer than traditional metal. The case then goes through Miarox, an electro-plasma oxidation treatment, that coats the pieces in ceramic. Miarox is used in the medical and aerospace sectors, being extremely scratch and corrosion-resistant. The three pieces of the case are held together with 12 spline screws and the Nitrile O-ring seals give the watch water resistance to 50 meters. Inside that case is a RM038 calibre with 19 jewels, 42-hour power reserve, and a baseplate and bridges made from grade five titanium.

Those bridges and baseplate require rigidity and precise surface flatness for the perfect functioning of the gears. The tourbillon is used to rotate the balance wheel and escapement in order to negate the effects of gravity on the movement and is located at 6 o’clock. The manual wind calibre also contains a carbon fiber band that helps to reduce shock during the golf swing. The RM 038 Tourbillon Bubba Watson is finished off with a matching vented rubber strap and a sapphire crystal, making it fit for a Masters champion!

The RM 38-01 Manual Winding Tourbillon G-sensor Bubba Watson ($825,000)

If you thought the RM 038 was crazy, well hold because the RM-038-10 Manual Winding Tourbillon G-sensor Bubba Watson is next on the list. The RM 38-01 was an even more complicated version of the RM 038, adding a mechanical G-sensor. This G-sensor was inspired by Bubba Watson being one of the longest drivers of the golf ball on tour. This one component is composed of 50 moving parts, while only being a mere 17mm in size! The G-sensor is located at 12 0’clock and can read up to 20 Gs of acceleration during the swing, especially during impact. The RM 38-01, like its older sibling the RM 038, contains a tourbillon for more precise timekeeping but does have an upgraded 48-hour power reserve. Grade 5 titanium, with a PVD treatment, is used for the baseplate and flying bridges in order to make sure the entire mechanism is held securely in place during the golf swing.

Along with the case, the baseplate and flying bridge are held together with titanium spline screws. Instead of magnesium, the case on the RM 38-01 is made from titanium and either green TPZ ceramic or Quartz TPT. The green TPZ is made up of 95 percent yttrium-stabilised zirconium, offering excellent scratch resistance along with being very lightweight. Quartz TPT is made up of hundreds of 45 microns thin layers of quartz filaments. Each layer orientation is rotated 45 degrees for durability and then heated to 120 degrees Celcius before being machined to its final shape. Only 50 were made, water resistant to 50 meters and feature torque-limiting crowns to make sure the movement isn’t damaged from overwinding. This is one of the pieces of golf gear that I would love to try, just to see how many Gs I could produce!

The RM 055 Manual Winding Bubba Watson ($98,200)

And here is probably the tamest version, if you can call any Richard Mille watch tame, the RM 055 Manual Winding Bubba Watson. The RM 055 contains a manual winding, 24 jewel, calibre RMUL2 movement with a 55hr power reserve. The RMUL2, like its older siblings, has its baseplate and bridges made from grade 5 titanium coated in PVD and Titalyt to resist corrosion and long term wear. The movement is a skeleton design, meaning that you can see through it and the sapphire crystals on the front and back of the watch give it an open and airy look.

The skeleton frame for the RMUL2 goes through extensive testing to ensure it is durable enough for a golf swing, withstanding accelerations of over 5000 G’s. The energy from winding is stored in a double-barreled system allowing more rotations and less wear on the teeth, pivots, and bearings. To protect that movement, the RM 055 case is made from ATZ and grade 5 titanium, held together with signature titanium spline screws. The ATZ bezel is injection-molded, under high pressure, from yttria-stabilized zirconia and alumina to increase rigidity by about 20 percent.

Next, to diamond, ATZ is one of the hardest materials in the world and takes extensive machining to produce the finished product. The grade 5 titanium center of the case is encased in a rubber coating for shock resistance and comfort, while offering 30m water resistance. The RM 055 and RM 038 do look similar in design, but the RM 055 is a brighter white compared to the grey-tinted RM 038. This 43mm timepiece is the only one of the three that isn’t limited edition and is affordable…in comparison!

 

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