Tourbillon Split Seconds Competition Chronograph RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire
An entire case cutted and milled from solid blocks of sapphire
The Watch Quote™ - January 16th, 2012
The highly skeletonized RM 056 movement reproduces all the characteristics of the RMCC1 caliber, a manual winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes, chronograph split seconds, power reserve, torque and function indicators.
This new caliber is not a simple exercise of merely reviewing the existing RM008 movement; it utilizes the best design characteristics combined with further advances, bringing it to an unequaled level of performance for long-term timekeeping precision and durability.
The movement weight has been reduced by 20%, requiring the creation of more than 400 new parts. The skeletonized grade 5 titanium baseplate with its light weight/high strength ratio makes it an ideal choice as the foundation for perfect functionality of the going train as well as offering a great resistance to corrosion. 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 the Richard Mille engineers did to create this extraordinary watch, a cutting edge timepiece.
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 that 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 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.
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.