Richard Mille’s RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire is the ultimate expression of transparencyOnly Richard Mille has to date achieved such a complex case design in sapphire. Share
Produced in an edition of just 10 pieces due to the challenge posed by its triple-curved sapphire tonneau case, the RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire is a staggering combination of sophistication and simplicity.
Its bezel, caseband and caseback, all in sapphire with titanium screws, reconciles surface and depth, throwing its movement into relief from every angle, thanks notably to its double skeletonised baseplate.
Movement architecture and extremely sophisticated skeletonization are defining characteristics of many Richard Mille watches. In the same spirit as the RM 012, with its highly architectural movement, we further elaborate. This time we wanted a calibre whose considerable volume could express resistance and lightness at once, while remaining exposed to the eye.
The RM 53-02 is a testament to significant developments in the suspended movement using braided cables. Inspired by that masterpiece of contemporary engineering, the suspension bridge, this three-dimensional creation, unique in the world of watchmaking, required the milling of two grade-5 titanium baseplates. The first, ‘peripheral’ baseplate, is attached to the caseband and supports the tensioner mechanism.
The watchmaker who assembles the movement is also the one who undertakes to tension these cables, which are just 0.27 mm in diameter. The 10 pulleys at the heart of the movement guarantee an even distribution of tension and perfect balance of the whole. — Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements at Richard Mille
The second, ‘central’ baseplate is attached by cables to the peripheral baseplate and incorporates all of the calibre’s wheels, as well as the winding mechanism. This supreme anti-shock system ensures that the RM 53-02 Tourbillon Sapphire’s 70-hour power reserve will smoothly unspool the seconds under almost any conditions.
The bezel, caseband and caseback are 100% crafted from a single block of sapphire crystal. No polymers are used to machine its complex, difficult lines or angles. The production of a sapphire case structure took us years of research and testing in order to ensure its adequate response to the demands of strength and comfort.
With a staggering growth time of more than 4 weeks, each block of sapphire then requires more than 1,000 hours of machining to emerge as a Richard Mille case. The difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that our case design curves in all directions, which requires that we use a multi-axis machine throughout the production process.
Anti-glare treated and water resistant to 30 metres, the sapphire case of the RM 53-02 is the most difficult case to perfectly produce amongst all the offerings in the entire Swiss casemaking industry, bar none.