Sapphire case & bridges…cable-suspended caliber…
Here’s your first look at the new sapphire tourbillon watch that Richard Mille at the Watches & Wonders in Hong Kong later this year (30 September to 2 October 2014). The RM56-02 is the third — and best yet — iteration of Mille’s innovative and incredible RM 56 sapphire series. Not only is the watch made of a case entirely made of sapphire (which takes ~40 days non-stop to machine), but it has a cable-suspended movement that appears almost as if floating in the case. A technical and visual marvel, the RM 56-02 will be limited to just 10 pieces worldwide, with each carrying a price tag of just over $2 million.
The introduction of the RM 056 Sapphire Tourbillon Split Seconds Chronograph three years ago was a watchmaking milestone of technical achievement because never before had such a complex case design been manufactured in pure sapphire. The original RM 056 was followed by the Richard Mille RM 56-01, which put the stakes even higher with a baseplate, bridges and third wheel additionally created from sapphire. The RM 56-02 Sapphire Tourbillon undoubtedly takes it to another level.
The RM 56-02 Sapphire Tourbillon takes cues from the mechanical architecture of the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal, namely its cable suspended movement. Mille incorporates the cabled movement design within the transparent sapphire case, resulting in a watch with extreme visual effect.
Here is a closeup of the tourbillon, where you can easily see the sculpted sapphire bridge and elements of the cable-suspension system. The specially developed single braided cable is only 0.35mm thick, woven within a system of 4 pulleys on posts at the movement’s corners and another 6 pulleys placed along the movement’s periphery
The baseplate of the RM 56-02, created from grade 5 titanium, is thus entirely suspended within the sapphire case. The tension of the cable is perfectly controlled by a miniature ratchet at 9 o’clock. This entire cable unit is attached to a separate indicator located below 12 o’clock allowing an easy visual inspection of the cable tension, to ensure that it is always operating within the designated norms.
Oh, and the case itself? It is done by Stettler Sapphire AG of Lyss, Switzerland. Stettler, obviously, is a specialist in this material. It takes upward of 1,000 hours to mill one of these cases. That’s about 40 days nonstop to sculpt the sapphire.
Limited to just 10 pieces. Price? $2,020,000. Yes, per piece.