Richard Mille has a proud history of manufacturing expensive watches that border the world of haute couture and architectural minimalism with their striking skeleton cases. The newly-introduced line of sapphire tourbillion pieces does an amazing job at continuing the Maison’s rich heritage, being a true representation of a modern gentleman’s sense of edgy style and sophisticated elegance.
The RM 56-02 with the striking price tag of $2,020,000 boasts a complex case design and exceptionally intricate movement. Both are forged out of pure sapphire and suspended in air by a signature system of pulleys that is highly revered in the world of haute horology. The model employs the same fundamental design of the infamous Nadal watch known as the RM 27-01. It was that particular piece that marked the debut of the trademarked technology that suspended the watches’ interior mechanics transparently mid-air, giving the whole composition the appearance of weightlessness. The difference with the RM 56-02 is the base-plate made of titanium and the sapphire case.
The interior of the watch is just as spectacular as the exterior with suspension cable braided to a remarkable .35mm thickness (or the width of a fishing line), which is controlled by the aforementioned pulleys posted to four points along the movement as well as additional posts along the side of the case. A ratchet is positioned at 9 o’clock to allow the wearer to adjust the tension on the cables, and an arrow at 12 o’clock registers how tight the cords are.
The three-part case is constructed entirely of sapphire crystal, which is extremely hard and scratch resistant. However, the tough material presents some manufacturing difficulties, which make the RM 56-02 all the more valuable. Its case has to be milled and ground from solid pieces of sapphire as any mistake will result in the piece cracking and a new one will have to be started from square one. It takes an average of 40 days of around-the-clock machining to create a single RM 56-02 case – or 960 hours in total. The sapphire bridges take an additional 400 hours, meaning a total of 1500 hours of fine workmanship go into a single watch.