Most attendees of SIHH 2012 will agree that the most notable, most scrutinized and most famous watch of the show was that sapphire-cased model from Richard Mille. It was unlike anything the industry had ever seen before and it caused quite a sensation, not only because of its sapphire case (a material which is extremely tricky to work with) but also because of its unobtainable price tag.
Richard Mille are rarely, if ever outdone by anyone else in the watch industry, but they do rather enjoy transcending their own achievements. So it follows that since unveiling their first vitreous masterpiece, they have developed the techniques of machining and milling blocks of crystal further still, and have followed-up their original RM 056 model with a successor, the RM 56-01 and most recently, the new RM 56-02 Sapphire Tourbillon which has been created for the aptly named Watches and Wonders event in Hong Kong.
Richard Mille RM 56-02 Sapphire Watch – A Horological Illusion
Aside from the sapphire case, the main attraction of this piece will be its movement, a brand-new calibre whose arrangement offers a horological illusion for the on-lookers who will no doubt gravitate towards this watch in their thousands. The movement is inspired by the trick design of the RM 27-01 which, as you may recall was made for Rafael Nadal to wear during his day-job, where even on a bad day, his serve on the tennis court can reach in excess of 100 mph. The baseplate of the movement is made from Grade 5 titanium completely suspended in its sapphire case using a single braided cable just 0.35mm thick, woven within an ingenious pulley system with a post at each corner of the movement, and further 6 placed along the periphery of the calibre. A ratchet (albeit a diminutive one), located at the 9 o’clock controls the tension of the cable, and just below the 12 o’clock a tension indicator serves to let the wearer know that all is well, or if adjustments need to be made. But that is not all. Now that Richard Mille have the knack for creating micro-components from sapphire, for this new model they have added a new sapphire winding barrel bridge, tourbillon and centre bridges.
Richard Mille RM 56-02 Sapphire Watch – A Challenging Construction
A case made from sapphire presents an unenviable challenge for the technicians who have worked on both the development and the construction of these Richard Mille showcase models. Such unique watchcases should not be simply measured in millimetres, but in the time it takes to create them. An astounding 40 days of machining is invested in each tripartite watchcase, with a further 400 hours of machining and finishing for the movement bridges. In addition to the hours and days allotted to construct each piece, Richard Mille have also invested time and resources to research and develop this new genre of watchmaking, hence those who wish to add this new model to their watch collection will have to pay more than $2 million dollars for the privilege.
The Richard Mille RM 56-02 Sapphire Tourbillon watch will be a limited edition of just 10 pieces.