Precious stones have long been embedded in precious metal, with more exotic, but less expensive, materials being a newer fad. Roger Dubuis premiered diamonds set in rubber in 2015, while Richard Mille unveiled its RM 07-01 and RM 037 in diamond–set carbon composite unveiled earlier in the year. And now, just ahead of SIHH 2018, Richard Mille has raised the curtains on the RM 07-01 Gem-Set Black Ceramic.
But like the unusual gem-set materials that came before, the diamonds in the latest Richard Mille are not set into the black ceramic per se, since gemstones can only be set into materials with a tiny bit of give.
Instead tiny holes are drilled into the ceramic – which is too hard to have gemstones pressed into it – to accommodate 0.25mm red gold prongs, each individually polished before installation, that then hold the diamonds in place on the ceramic.
Though ceramic dial replica Richard Mille watches has been widely used in watchmaking from brands as diverse as IWC and Chanel, this marks the first time in watchmaking where diamonds are set on ceramic, rather than on metal plates fixed to ceramic.
Bling aside, the new RM 07-01 is fundamentally the same as the earlier models. The watch measures 45.66mm by 31.4mm and has a skeletonised dial with decorative pavé diamonds on an inner chapter ring that encircles an onyx centre. While the diamond-set front plate and case back are black ceramic, the case middle is red gold.
Underneath all this is the skeletonised, self-winding CRMA2 movement, which has a base plate and bridges cast in titanium as well as a “variable-geometry” rotor in 18k gold that can be adjusted (by a watchmaker) to suit the wearer’s physical activity.
The price for the new RM 07-01 copy watches have yet to be announced, but a similar model without the diamonds on ceramic retails for US$125,000.