Richard Mille engineers have really been tested in the extraordinary creation of this watch cutting edge timepiece. The highly skeletonized RM 056 now has now undergone a 20% weight reduction from the last RM-050 model, required the creation of more than 400 new parts and with a baseplate made from highly skeletonized grade 5 titanium. A fast rotating winding barrel, balance with variable inertia, function indicator, torque indicator and split seconds mechanism with improved performance are only a small selection of what they had to develop.
A unique evolution of this tourbillon split seconds Chrono Competition RM 056 Felipe Massa is that its entire case -front bezel, caseband and back bezel- is cut and milled from solid blocks of sapphire, a feat of engineering and a strong visual statement. 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.
“This is the first time such a complex case design has been realized in this material.”
Sapphire is known as a particularly scratch-resistant material and one of the hardest materials on Earth, with a Mohs rating of 9.0. 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, 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. The cutting tools must be specially designed and tipped with diamond.
For excellent optical properties, bezel case parts 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 20 Spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.
The RM 056 is a limited edition of just 5 pieces due to the extreme nature of their creation and development, a new frontier in the history of the watchmaking industry.