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Wrist Review: Richard Mille RM56-02 Sapphire Tourbillion


Cal and Felix are particularly good at doing wrist reviews on new watches they get a chance to sport around the communes of Liverpool and Essex where they respectively live (I still have no idea where they live so I’ve made this up – as Felix continuously tries to tell me about his swimming pool I’ve stopped asking him personal questions). I would say I am learning from them so I will have my first go at a wrist review for a very ‘me’ type of watch.

Today I will be reviewing a watch I once had the short pleasure of enjoying and that is the Richard Mille RM 56-02 Tourbillion Sapphire. Now this watch is a bit like owning an island as the idea of owning it is probably cooler in theory than the practicality of it in reality. It is not a statement watch but rather a watch you buy when you feel like you want to stop having competitive conversations and just let the timepiece do the talking.

Richard Mille RM56-02 (image credit: richardmille.com)

The watch was released in 2014 with only 10 examples made. This timepiece is a follow up to Richard Mille’s first infamous sapphire timepiece, the RM 56-01. The RM 56-01 in its own right was a piece of innovation in 2011 as no watch manufacturer had crafted such a technical movement in a case completely made of sapphire before.

Richard Mille 56-01 (image credit: richardmille.com)

This iteration has far more sapphire components than its predecessor, and a very sophisticated movement suspension system. Its movement takes cues from the mechanical backbone of the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal, and the suspended movement as at the center of the transparent sapphire case. The baseplate was created with grade 5 titanium and due to the experiences gained from the previous RM 56 model transparency for the watch movement and case has been optimized. The actual case was milled from ground blocks of Sapphire and it takes 40 days of 24/7 machine operation to produce one sapphire case and then 400-man hours on top of that to develop the movement bridges successfully. Sapphire, and a manual winding tourbillion movement – count me in!

Richard Mille 56-01 (image credit: richardmille.com)

On the wrist it feels like you’re wearing a piece of glass with complex engineering in the middle. The transparency of this sapphire case is exceptional and a testament to the capabilities of Richard Mille. They have taken a completely different direction than other manufacturers in using alternative materials and engineering methods in their craftmanship. When you consider the boldness of their watches but then realize most of them weigh only a few grams you get a sense of intrinsic value that their watches have. This can almost half justify the costs associated with owning one.

Richard Mille RM56-02 Wristshot

At about 2.02 Million USD it is not for the faint hearted. Mortgage financing options are not available on the watch. In fact, to own one you need to personally show up at Mr. Richard Mille’s house in a Robinson R66 helicopter you pilot yourself with the cash in the form of Venezuelan bond certificates and Bitcoins. You would then need to hand it to him after arm wrestling Sylvester Stallone upon completing both Rocky and Rambo trilogies in Mr. Mille’s home theatre. After that to leave with the watch you would ideally need to go on a solo rowing expedition to the small island of Vanuatu from Geneva to buy a passport for 100k USD as you probably cannot travel on your current passport due to an Interpol warning for trading sanctioned goods, which afforded you this great timepiece.

Even if you really did want it and embarked on this mildly tedious process - they're all sold out.

Ilkay Olmez


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