Making the ‘Crystal Ship’: case manufacture for Richard Mille’s ghost - the RM056.

Mar 18, 2012,03:48 AM

[The RM056 Saphir at this year's SIHH]

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 By: 219 : March 18th, 2012-03:50
It was the star of the show at SIHH 2012. Richard’s RM056 was a ghost of a machine as it appeared to levitate in the display case. Almost without exception, the reaction was one of awe. How could this be! How, with a complex three part case, could the cas...  


 By: nacho217 : March 18th, 2012-08:39
Excellent and instructive report , thanks for sharing....certainly there is nothing impossible for RM , simply outstanding

Almost a diamond in the rough!

 By: 219 : March 18th, 2012-03:51
g To undertake the project, Richard turned to Switzerland’s (and possibly the worlds) foremost crystal firm: Stettler Sapphire. A privately held, family run firm, it is the typical example of a Swiss specialisation. Stettler produce the sapphire crystals ...  

A pleasure! nt.

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-00:54

Beautiful post, thank you.

 By: VMM : March 20th, 2012-12:19
Very interesting. Vte

The ‘could’ outweighs the ‘should’!

 By: 219 : March 18th, 2012-03:53
[The crystal sapphire case – from the RM056 at SIHH – in its constituent parts] The watch is absurd on one level – why? Why would you want to produce a watch case that could shatter? You do not have to worry about hair-line scratches on the case, but if y...  

great report !!!

 By: dms : March 18th, 2012-06:28
It's amazing to see what it takes to shape such case. Thanks Andrew.

Excellent, Andrew!

 By: RobCH : March 18th, 2012-13:48
Great insight, awesome pics! Thanks very much.

Pleasure Rob - good to see you on the trip. Hope to see you

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-00:56
again before too much time goes by. Cheers Andrew H


 By: Allen : March 18th, 2012-16:00
Now they have the machines and know-how, perhaps they will make a RM005 or RM035 with the sapphire case? Thanks for the great report, Andrew.

Thanks Allen. Not sure what they are going to do with the

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-00:58
knowledge capital in all of this. The problem with the sapphire case is first, it is liable to break if a large shock hits the case. Second, the cost of the manufacture, even taking aside the physical and human capital investment is large, and you need a ... 

Great article Andrew!

 By: AnthonyTsai : March 18th, 2012-20:01
Your last pic of the sapphire back is FANTASTIC! I wonder how scared or cautious I would be if I were to own and wear one of these RM056's. Then again, if I were able to buy one of the 5 pieces, money would probably be no object so I probably wouldn't be ... 

Thanks Anthony! Funnily enough, no one has tested the necessary

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-00:59
shock for the crystal to crack or shatter!! Lets hope no one does! Andrew H

Very interesting. Thanks Andrew.

 By: SJX : March 19th, 2012-06:12
There's no limit to ambition or appetite! - SJX

Indeed! :) nt.

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-01:00

case construction

 By: 41northpole : March 19th, 2012-09:11
Imagine being the person tightening up those case screws for the first time, craaack!! Whoops maybe? Tim

There are only a couple of watchmakers within RM that will

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-01:01
be given the case and trusted with the task of assembling both movement and watch. And yes, I am sure they will be aware of the risk factor. Thanks Andrew H

Epic post, thank you so much

 By: doubleup : March 19th, 2012-09:43
Is it accurate that during the time the factory makes these casses none of the 60,000 or 120,000 crystal faces could be produced? Is that factory really going to work exclusively on the 56 case for a year? Thanks again,

Yes it is! Stettler have moved a large part of the regular

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-01:04
production, that is essentially machine driven, out to Mauritius! The more specialised work will now take place in Switzerland. The special case for the RM056 will occupy half of the Swiss facility for the next year! Thanks Andrew H

This was mind blowing post..

 By: ocwatching : March 19th, 2012-16:04
thank you for the insights into this case manufacturing...spectacular!

wonderful report, thanks! (nt)

 By: ei8htohms : March 22nd, 2012-04:37

Thanks John - not sure if you know of Stettler. They

 By: 219 : March 22nd, 2012-08:08
make crystals for all sorts of watch firms in CH. A little surprised at some of the names in the place! Hope to see you soon. Cheers! Andrew H

nope, first I've heard of 'em

 By: ei8htohms : March 22nd, 2012-11:19
Undoubtedly that would be true for most component suppliers.

Most brands go through these guys! Have to say that the

 By: 219 : March 22nd, 2012-12:26
roster is an impressive list from the smallest independents to the largest of the large! Cheers! Andrew H

Well done, Andrew.

 By: Davo : March 25th, 2012-05:10
A most informative and enlightening read about an indeed most intriguing case. Once again, chapeau to RM!


 By: begitu : March 19th, 2012-06:33
Can anyone tell me what is the weight of this RM056 crystal watch? Mnay thanks in advance. Regrads, BT

Sorry - I dont know the weight as an exact amount. The

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-09:50
'heft' of the case in the hand had approximately the same feel as titanium. The case is quite light. Andrew H

Phenomenal! I wondered

 By: Ophiuchus : March 19th, 2012-21:51
how they made such things. I knew ultrasonic milling existed, but had never seen the limits of it until now. I live for technical articles like this, and I was a machinist working with monocrystaline diamond tooling before I became a watchmaker, and so I ... 

Many thanks for the personal perspective. If you need some

 By: 219 : March 21st, 2012-09:52
contact details, I am happy to pass on some names and email addresses. I found the people at Stettler very knowledgable and enthusiastic about their work. It does not hurt to talk to them! Thanks Andrew H