When it was unveiled at the 2012 SIHH, the RM 056 split-seconds competition chronograph sapphire, a limited edition of 5 timepieces, caused a shock-wave in the watchmaking world with its pared down purity, its movement with exemplary finishing and its case made entirely of sapphire crystal. This watchmaking revolution has elevated the Richard Mille brand to an unrivalled level of design and innovation.
Following this technical feat and determined to continue challenging the very limits of fine watchmaking, Richard Mille has created another exceptional piece for 2013: the RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal. The brand used its immense experience of skeletonisation and of making components in sapphire crystal (Al2O3), gained during research for both the RM 018 «Homage to Boucheron», which has a double baseplate in this material, and the case of the RM 056 for the creation of the RM 56-01, characterised by its extraordinary transparent movement.
By using a sapphire crystal baseplate – which supports the entire manually wound tourbillon movement – Richard Mille allows as much light as possible to penetrate into the caliber RM56-01, which 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. This quest for extreme transparency at the heart of a titanium movement also led the engineers to use sapphire crystal for the central bridge and third wheel. 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.
Its three-part case is inspired by that of the RM 056, with each component – front bezel, caseband and back bezel – machined and ground from a solid block of sapphire crystal. Machining operations lasting for over 40 days, 24 hours a day, are required to produce one case. In order to machine it, a specialist CNC machine had to be purchased especially for the RM 56-01. All the components made from sapphire crystal were machined by the world specialists in this material, Stettler, located in Lyss, Switzerland. This case, which sits perfectly on the wrist, is water-resistant to 30 metres thanks to two O-ring seals in transparent Nitril, and is fixed around the caliber RM56-01 using 24 grade 5 titanium spline screws.
Its strap carries the concept of transparency to its apogee. Collaboration between Biwi SA and Richard Mille has made it possible to develop a material, Aerospace nano®, that employs nanotechnology to obtain unequalled transparency and strength. The nano-reinforcements in this material, which has never been used in watchmaking before, are generated in situ during the manufacture of Aerospace nano®. Its elastic and waterproof properties make it silky to the touch and superbly comfortable. The strap of the RM 56-01 alone inaugurates a new class of materials in watchmaking.
The RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal symbolises all the expertise Richard Mille has accrued in showcasing a caliber through its sheer transparency. Because the machining of sapphire crystal is an extremely difficult process, the RM 56-01 is only available in a very limited edition of 5 timepieces.
Model: Tourbillon Richard Mille RM 56-01 Sapphire, Limited edition of 5 pieces in sapphire.
CALIBER RM56-01: manual winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes, power reserve indicator, function selector and torque indicator.
Power Reserve: Circa 70 hours (±10%) displayed on a numeric scale to the left of the barrel.
Baseplate, Centre Bridge and Third Wheel in Sapphire Crystal: The baseplate has been entirely removed and replaced by large, transparent plates that support the entire movement. The rhomboid crystalline structure of synthetic sapphire crystal Al2O3 has a high melting point of 2,303 Kelvins and a linear-expansion minimal thermal coefficient (6 x 10-6), which combined offer exceptional stability even in the most extreme conditions. Its resistance to abrasion is also eight times greater than that of steel. The third wheel and centre bridge are also made from sapphire crystal. The sapphire crystal of the centre bridge is ribbed to enhance the rigidity of the whole construction, while lightening the structure. All the parts of the RM 56-01 made from sapphire crystal have been treated with an anti-glare coating, and have also been subjected to strict testing to optimise their resistance capabilities.
Torque Indicator: Supplies information about the mainspring’s tension, thus permitting the optimalization of the chronometric functioning of the movement. Below 53 dNmm, the spring is considered to be too slack, while above 65 dNmm, the excessive spring tension can adversely affect the mechanism’s operation, or else actually endanger it. (These indications appear on the numerical zone to the right of the barrel).
Function Selector: In a manner similar to a car’s gearbox, a push-button located at the center of the crown allows one to select the winding, neutral and hand setting functions with a simple push. A hand at 4 o’clock displays the selected function: W (Winding) – N (Neutral) – H (Hands).
Free Sprung Balance with Variable Inertia: This type of balance wheel which represents the ultimate in innovation, guarantees greater reliability when subjected to shock and also during assembly and dismantling of the movement, thus achieving better chronometric results over time.
Fast Rotating Barrel (6 hours per revolution instead of 7.5 hours)
This type of barrel provides the following advantages:
– The phenomenon of periodic internal mainspring adhesion is significantly diminished, thereby increasing performance,
– Provision of an excellent mainspring delta curve with an ideal power reserve/performance and regularity ratio.
Barrel Pawl with Progressive Recoil: This device permits an appreciable winding gain (circa 20 %), especially during the start of winding. It also aids in the even distribution of the mainspring’s internal tension.
Modular Time Setting Mechanism Fitted Against the Case Back: Provides the following advantages for longevity and maintenance:
– Since the component is mounted outside of the movement, the time setting assembly can be changed without affecting the integrity of the baseplate in the event of a possible defect or during maintenance,
– The mounting and dismantling of this module from the back will not require the removal of the hands and the dial.
Improved Time-Setting System (back of the movement): By replacing engaging friction by rolling friction, the time-setting function is smoother.
Winding Barrel Teeth and Third-Wheel Pinion with Central Involute Profile: The wheel with a central developing profile and a pressure angle of 20° promotes rolling movement more effectively, compensates differences between centers, ensures excellent torque transmission and a distinct improvement in performance.
Spline Screws in Grade 5 Titanium for the Bridges: This permits better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly. These screws are therefore unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly and age well.
– Movement dimensions: 33.20 mm x 30.90 mm
– Thickness: 5.36 mm
– Tourbillon diameter: 10.90 mm
– Balance wheel diameter: 9.12 mm
– Number of jewels: 28
– Balance wheel: Glucydur, with 2 arms and 4 setting screws, moment of inertia 10 mg.cm2, angle of lift 53°
– Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
– Balance spring: ELINVAR by Nivarox®
– Torque indicator, in dNmm
– Shock protection: KIF ELASTOR KE 160 B28
– Stone setting in white gold
– Barrel shaft in nickel-free Chronifer (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S), with the following characteristics: stainless – non-magnetic – tempered
The entire case – front bezel, caseband, back of the RM 56-01 are cut and milled from solid blocks of sapphire. No external structures are used to support the assembled parts. Sapphire is known as a particularly scratch-resistant material with a hardness of 1800 Vickers. Made of aluminium oxide (Al2O3) crystals, it is transparent thanks to its molecular composition. The machining of such components was the biggest challenge faced by Richard Mille Watches, a challenge made all the more difficult as the sapphire machining process is exceptionally delicate.
Although extremely tough, sapphire does not allow for even the slightest error during milling and cutting. Creating a case of this quality took over 1000 hours of machining, of which 430 hours were spent on pre-forming the case components and 350 hours on polishing the whole watch case. For excellent optical properties, the front bezel and the back bezel have been treated with an anti-glare coating. The tripartite case is water resistant to 30 meters, ensured by two Nitril O-ring seals. The case is assembled with 24 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel. Dimensions: 50.50 x 42.70 x 16.75 mm.
Spline Screws in Grade 5 Titanium For The Case: This permits better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly. These screws are therefore unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly and age well.
Flange: In titanium, with a black galvanic treatment and index filled with an approved luminescent material.
Dial: In sapphire (thickness: 0.40 mm) with anti-glare treatment (both sides), protected by 8 silicon braces inserted in the upper and lower flanges grooves.
Bezel and Case Back
Bezel side: in sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with anti-glare coating (on both sides)
Thickness: 2.50 mm
Case back: in sapphire with anti-glare coating (on both sides)
Thickness: 2.50 mm
STRAP IN AEROSPACE NANO®
The partnership between Biwi SA and Richard Mille has led to the development of a material that uses the latest nanotechnology to provide unparalleled resistance and transparency: Aerospace nano®. The nano-strengthening properties of this innovative material are generated during its production. Its elastic behaviour and natural water-resistance give it a silky feel and provide optimal comfort. The RM 56-01 strap has inaugurated a new class of materials.
– Hand-polished beveling
– Hand-polished locking-sections
– Microblasted milled sections
– Lapped and polished contact points
– Burnished pivots
– Wire-drawn and microblasted surfaces
– Hand-polished beveling
– Drawn outer faces
– Baseplate polished on either side then treated with an anti-reflective coating
– Ribbed centre bridge with opaque indentations, polished on both sides then treated with an anti-reflective coating
– Third wheel polished on both sides
– Concave chamfering with a diamond tool
– Circular-decorated faces
– Gilding (before cutting the teeth)
– Minimal corrections to preserve the geometry of the wheels and their performance