February 4, 2013
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.
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.
Lets talk about the movement for a minute. 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.
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.”
Now, lets have a look at the case. 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 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.
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. Truly exciting.
words by Kyle Stults