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A James Bond-Worthy Pen

Richard Mille is rethinking the art of inking

Made of carbon, titanium and white gold and retailing at $100,000, watchmaker Richard Mille’s new RMS05 fountain pen is the most talked-about writing instrument of the moment. Just as Mille’s timepieces have energized horlogerie in the digital era, he has transformed the act of penmanship into a contemplation on the practice of communication and the beauty of engineering.

Mille is clear on what inspired him to create the RMS05. “People who love watches almost always also like cars, cameras and pens,” he explains. “And a beautiful pen in the hand makes even writing a list more pleasurable.” Mille also took inspiration from his father and grandfather, saying, “For their generations, using a fountain pen was part of a good life.”

Perfecting the pen was a four-year process. “The challenge was to connect the pen with my watches and my approach to all things mechanical,” Mille recalls. “I wanted the nib to be protected and only emerge out of the barrel when the cap was unscrewed.” In order for this complication to work, the team invented a clockwork mechanism using a specially made watch caliber: “Even though the pen does not tell the time,” watch aficionados can still marvel. The complex 12-jewel movement is visible through a sapphire crystal in the pen’s barrel, and every time you replace the cap, the nib retracts and winds the movement.

Mille wants people to be able to use the pen not only to mark special events, but also to elevate everyday notation. “With a proper pen,” he says, “the experience is totally different.”