When you want a watch to be lightweight and durable, you make it out of steel or titanium. When you want it to have some gravitas, you make it out of platinum or gold. And when you want it to be totally absurd, you make it out of solid pink sapphire. I'm not even kidding with this one.
The new RM 07-02 from Richard Mille, nicknamed the Pink Lady Sapphire, is an automatic watch encased entirely in pink sapphire. It's important to note that this pink sapphire case isn't carved out of a massive, naturally occurring stone. It's made from the same sort of synthetic sapphire used for watch crystals. First the huge piece of pink sapphire has to be created in a lab with sufficient purity and clarity to allow the light to shine through without inclusions. Then it takes almost 40 days for CNC machines to mill the case shape out of the block. If something goes wrong, the whole thing will crack or shatter and must then be thrown away. The cost to Richard Mille of making one of these cases is more than a lot of luxury watches cost at retail. It likely runs into five figures, although reps declined to confirm the exact amount.
Once you get past the sapphire, you'll find other precious materials involved, too. The central dial section is a piece of smokey mother of pearl, and set around the dial and into the winding rotor on the back are dozens of small diamonds. The entire movement is itself made from solid red gold, including the winding rotor, with a grained finish and beveled edges throughout. The skeletonizing shows off the gears and mechanics inside while leaving enough gold to let the wearer thoroughly appreciate it.
The RM 07-02 isn't all about looks, though. Say what you will about Mille's choice aesthetic, his engineering is downright brilliant. The titanium screws used to hold the case together are a special design that reduces the torque involved in sealing the case parts together, which keeps the sapphire from cracking and ensures a tight seal. The balance spring in the movement is also free-sprung, and a watchmaker can adjust its weight distribution to get super-accurate performance, plus the winding rotor can be fine-tuned for the right amount of force. Mille didn't pull any punches here.
The price tag? A whopping $980,000. That's a lot less than the $1.65 million that Mille's last all-sapphire watch, the RM 056, sold for, but it nonetheless makes the RM 07-02 one of the most expensive watches commercially available today. It's not a limited edition watch, but the combination of a difficult production process and limited demand means will probably limit production, anyway.