July 27, 2014
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.
In the closeup of the tourbillon, 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.