At the crucial moment when seeing the first prototype, Richard Mille remembered how, as a child, he used to be fascinated by exploded views of engines, cars and aircraft. he used to spend hours lost in contemplation of these drawings, which showed meticulous representations in space of all the parts of a complex mechanism, as if the object had burst outwards, yielding this view of all its components.
Thus the obvious solution, to reveal the whole architecture of this model in 3D, was a transparent case. And the additional difficulty here was to make it from sapphire crystal. Due to the composition of this material (crystals of aluminium oxide), machining it is an absolutely colossal undertaking.
This watchcase, in fact, takes three months to make and throws up a staggering rate of quality-control rejections. If Richard Mille’s watchcases were already reputed to be the most complex to make in the industry, this one became a feat that was nothing short of phenomenal. It was what Richard Mille had been dreaming of: producing an object to be both seen and used. This tribute to Felipe Messa chronograph comes as a limited edition of 5 pieces in sapphire.
Case — The entire case – front bezel, caseband, back bezel – of the split seconds Competition Chronograph RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire are cut and milled from solid blocks of sapphire. The production of this sapphire structure took years of research and testing in order to ensure an adequate response to the demands of strength and comfort. Sapphire is known as a particularly scratch-resistant material with a hardness of 1,800 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 50 meters, ensured by two Nitril O-ring seals. The case is assembled with 20 Spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.
Chronograph — The modern architecture of this movement has allowed for a coherent and rational arrangement of each constituent part, avoiding unnecessary complexity and permitting the best possible use of functions with technical solutions. For example, research was conducted into the geometric design of the column wheels that control the different levers in order to ensure the perfect, long-term, stable and simultaneous functioning of the chronograph mechanism, a feature that is essential for a high performance chronograph.
Operation: the chronograph function is stopped and started via the pusher located on the lower left at 8 o’clock. The hands are reset by pressing another pusher located on the upper left at 10 o’clock.
Skeletonized Titanium Baseplate — The baseplate has been finished in grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible, highly corrosion-resistant and remarkably rigid alloy, which enables the gear train to function effortlessly. The alloy is 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. This combination further increases its mechanical properties, which explains its frequent use in the aerospace, aeronautical and automobile industries.
The baseplate of the caliber RMCC1 has been optimized to achieve an extreme weight/resistance ratio. The skeletonized baseplate and the bridges have been subjected to intensive and complete validation tests to optimize their resistance capacities.
Split Seconds Mechanism with Improved Performance — One of the new characteristics developed for the split seconds Competition Chronograph RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire is the virtually complete elimination of initial jumping in the chronograph seconds hand.
Moreover, the development of a new generation of split seconds components meant that energy consumption of this function could be lowered by approximately 50 % through the reduction of friction on the spindle, and the chronograph hands jumping when stopping is virtually eliminated. This was achieved by research that focused on the working of the split seconds’ arms.
Operation: by depressing the pusher on the right at 4 o’clock, the user can stop the split seconds hand in order to read an intermediate time while the chronograph is engaged. Pressing the pusher again allows the split seconds hand to rejoin the chronograph, ready for the next measurement.