Richard Mille RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal Tourbillon Watch

SIHH 2013…Extreme Transparency…

Richard Mille RM 056-1 Sapphire

If you thought that last year’s Richard Mille RM 56 split-seconds competition chronograph sapphire crystal watch was something to behold, well then feast your eyes on this.   Though you may be inclined to think that you are imagining this transparent machine, this ghost of a watch as it sits before your very eyes, rest assured that it is very, very real.  And very spectacular.

This takes the the RM 056 (a limited edition of 5 timepieces) to a new level of clarity, if you will.  The RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal has not only a sapphire case, but movement bridges and baseplate as well.  In advancing last year’s RM 56, the RM 56-01 also draws from Mille’s creation of the RM 018 ‘Homage to Boucheron’, which has a double baseplate in sapphire.  Full discussion and high-res closeups of this extreme piece, below. 

UPDATE:  Link to Live Pics, now below.


Richard Mille RM56-01

Price: 1,600,000 Swiss Francs

50.50mm x 42.70mm x 16.75mm sapphire crystal case

Richard Mille RM 056-1 Sapphire caseview

Power Reserve display

Richard Mille RM 56-01 Sapphire Power Reserve


By using a sapphire crystal baseplate – which supports the entire manually wound tourbillon movement – Mille is able to increase light penetration into the caliber RM56-01, to great visual effect.  In addition to its tourbillon, the watch displays the hours and minutes, with power-reserve and torque, at 11 and 2 o’clock respectively, and a function selector indicator
at 4 o’clock.  Moving beyond the baseplate, we see that the RM 56-01 also uses sapphire crystal for the central bridge and third wheel.

Richard Mille RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal Components

According to Mille, “the caliber RM56-01, made from sapphire crystal and titanium, is immune to temperature variations and wear, ensures excellent stability and offers exemplary chronometric performance.”

Richard Mille RM 056-1 Sapphire closeup


Richard Mille RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal Caseband

Each of the three case parts (front bezel, caseband and back bezel) of the RM 56-01 is machined and ground from a solid block of sapphire crystal.   Mille points out that machining operations lasting for over 40 days, 24 hours a day, are required to produce one case, in fact the RM 56-01 required its own special CNC machine.  The sapphire crystal machine work is actually done by Stettler Sapphire AG of Lyss, Switzerland.  Stettler, as I understand, are recognized world specialists in this material.  located in Lyss, Switzerland.

The case is is water-resistant to 30 meters.

The RM 56-01 strap also warrants review.  Working with Biwi SA, Richard Mille developed a material known as ‘Aerospace nano®’ employs nanotechnology to obtain ‘unequalled transparency and strength’, according to Mille.  Interestingly, the elastic and waterproof properties of the strap are said to give it a silky, comfortable feel. So yes, the strap of the RM 56-01 also sets a new first and opens up a new class of materials in high watchmaking.

RM 56-01 Sapphire Watch Strap

Parting Thoughts

Having seen the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal watch, the RM 59-01 Yohan ‘The Beast’  Blake watch, and now this, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Richard Mille stands apart from the rest of the watchmaking world.  Year after year, Mille continues to deliver tremendously in both design and materials innovation.  This is not to dismiss other avant-garde innovators like Urwerk, MB&F and others, but the Richard Mille WOW factor is incomparable.