Richard Mille RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley: The Symbolism of the Smiley

Everyone desires to connect with others and spread happiness. With that in mind, what could be more symbolic than a smiley face? More than 50 years ago, a yellow circle with two oval eyes and a wide smiling mouth established itself as a collective symbol of positivity and pop culture. Today, our society cannot be imagined without the smiling face painted by Franklin Loufrani: it is a symbol of interaction.

After three years of research and development by the Richard Mille team, the new RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley combines the iconic smiling face with a series of miniature sculptures. The result is a high-tech and creative timepiece. Limited to 50 pieces, this emotional watch is designed for watchmaking lovers who just want to spread the joy.

Smile: a universal language
Painted 50 years ago by Franklin Loufrani and first appeared on the pages of French newspaper France Soir in 1972, it remains a symbol of happiness today. The smiley face symbol is universal: a smile, recognizable anywhere in the world. One of the earliest recorded smiles in history dates back to 2400 BC and appears on a statue of a governor in Mesopotamia (now Western Asia). The meaning and image of a smile has changed significantly over the centuries and civilizations. For example, the smile on the Egyptian pharaoh sculpture is only faintly noticeable. It was a testament to restraint and self-control—values ​​that were considered particularly esteemed at the time.

Meanwhile, the emotional smile on the statue symbolizes happiness, prosperity and joy. By contrast, the smile appears very discreet in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Renaissance portrait, the Mona Lisa. At that time, expressing one’s emotions was still considered inappropriate and indecent. Smiling was finally the norm in the work of the French court painter Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun during the Age of Enlightenment. In her work, the painter shows a blunt and broad smile.

As a true source of happiness, our smiles today can have many meanings. It is a gesture of joy or sincerity; it can be innocent or disarmed. This symbolism comes in the form of the RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley.

Artist Olivier Kuhn and his miniature sculptures
Engraver Olivier Kuhn is responsible for the playful design elements of the RM 88. Initially trained in custom motorcycles, Kuhn combines haute horlogerie, 3D design and jewelry making. He has been creating miniatures for eight years, as well as gold miniature sculptures in RM 88 – each weighing less than a gram.

In addition, Kuhn was involved in the creation of the miniature sculptures, from 3D design and fabrication to final installation into the watch, ensuring that the watch also reflects Kuhn’s artistic style. The manufacturing process of the sculpture combines time-honored watchmaking skills with modern technology. First, use a 3D printer to print resin. Then, before it is melted and replaced with gold, plaster is applied around it. Finally, the gold is shaped with special watchmaking tweezers.

The process enables refinement even in the smallest details. However, Kuhn’s biggest challenge, and the most complex part, was the combination of clouds and rainbows. This is because different fibers have to be connected, each requiring 25 hours of working time.

RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley case
The bezel and caseback are made of white ATZ ceramic, known for its high scratch resistance, while the case ring is made of red gold, harmoniously matched. Meanwhile, the domed bezel and satin finish are achieved through a delicate process using diamond tools. The recurring smiley face on the striking crown head adds another colourful, playful accent.

A surreal scene on the dial, seemingly straightforward from some sort of emoji world, bursts out of a colorful rainbow and ends in a cloud. Above this is a small seconds hand with a lightning bolt and a sun at its tip. This changes weather conditions every minute. Additionally, the wearer can admire blooming flowers, dark green cacti, golden sun and cheerful pink flamingos.

The three-dimensional effect of the artwork is punctuated by a cocktail with an umbrella. Meanwhile, the smiley face itself is mounted on a decorative bridge, creating the impression of floating. The movement bridge with its smiley face takes the form and color of the rainbow, creating the perfect backdrop for the entire spectacle. When the crown is pulled out, the function indicator at 3 o’clock shows the position of the winding (W) and hand setting (H). fake watch

openwork movement
Another major challenge was to leave enough space to best highlight the scenery without taking away the concept of the performance from the protagonist. With this in mind, the skeleton tourbillon movement CRMT7 was developed. The automatic movement with hours, minutes and functions displays at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 50 hours.

The RM 88 is equipped with two base plates: one for the movement and one for decorative objects. This creates three-dimensional space, but at the same time remains elastic. The rotor, made of 3N gold, with the OneWay winding system and ceramic ball bearings, still offers an extraordinary view of the dial through the caseback.

The RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley is a dynamic piece that will not only bring a smile to the wearer, but also those who see it.

Brand Richard Mille replica
Model RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley
Reference RM 88
Case material ATZ white ceramic and red gold
Aspect 48,15mm x 39,74mm x 13,30mm
Water resistance 5 bar (~50 m)
Dial 3D dial with colorful elements
Strap/Bracelet Yellow Velcro Strap
Mobile movement CRMT7
Movement type automatic
Power reserve about 50 hours (± 10%)
Frequency 28,800 times/hour (4 Hz)
Function Hours, minutes, function indicator