Richard Mille RM 57-03 Tourbillon Sapphire Dragon in NTPT Carbon, a carbon composite made by Swiss carbon specialist North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT).
Originally unveiled in 2012, the RM 57-01 was initially launched as the “Jackie Chan” edition, designed in collaboration with the Hong Kong action star and bearing a miniature dragon sculpture on the movement. Subsequent iterations included the RM 57-02 where the dragon was replaced by a falcon, a motif popular in the Gulf.
Produced by Olivier Vaucher, a micro-decoration specialist in Geneva that serves brands including Roger Dubuis, Van Cleef & Arpels and Zenith, the sapphire body of the dragon is first milled from a block of sapphire, and then laser engraved to create its detail. Then the engraving is finished and polished by hand.
The sapphire pieces are then joined to solid red gold components that make up the dragon’s head, tail, limbs and spine. To highlight the dragon’s tongue and eyes, both are painted red with a tiny brush. And to match that, the endstone of the tourbillon is a large, round ruby in a rose gold chaton.
The watch is powered by the cal. RM 57-03, a variant of the hand-wound movement that is found in most Richard Mille tourbillons. It’s produced by Renaud & Papi, the complications workshop of Audemars Piguet. Here the movement base plate has been open-worked in a spiral pattern.