Richard Mille 51-01 Tourbillon Tiger And Dragon
Richard Mille and Michelle’s collaboration began in 2011 with the creation of the RM 051 Phoenix Tourbillon, a symbolic timepiece in which she was intimately active. Michelle desired to reiterate the concept of forms and shapes integrated within the watch’s movement, this time with a visual scene centered on the symbolic themes of the Tiger and the Dragon, with a tiger and a dragon clutching the tourbillon movement. Created from 3N red gold, the figures are carved and incised entirely by hand. Special miniature tools were specifically made for the specific artistry required in the physical realization of these two creatures. To increase the realism of these special animals, a long and painstaking process of hand finished micro painting was executed, also including the unseen parts of these two marvelous entities.
The tiger and dragon have deeply influenced Asian culture. The Tiger, considered as ‘Yang’ supremacy, therefore male, was viewed as a demon hunter. For the military, the tiger, symbol of courage, was represented on shields and weapons. The dragon, meanwhile, is a very common symbol in China, taking on many complex traits, as an emblem that can unify a group, or a larger nation. Today we closely associate it with prosperity and happiness.
The three-part barrel-shaped case is highly curved which means the watch is comfortable to wear but considerable time is required for its production and quality control. The ergonomic and visually distinctive curvature of the case is typical of all Richard Mille timepieces, requiring absolute precision and a total lack of tension in the metal. These requirements for the case design are based on a year’s research and development. The characteristic tonneau shape of the RM 51-01 requires no fewer than 47 preliminary stamping operations including 21 for the tamping before production actually can begin. 4 hours of machining followed by more than 260 milling procedures are required to produce the RM 51-01 case with a further day spent on finishing which entails grinding, satin brushing and polishing. The tripartite case is water resistant to 50 meters, ensured by 2 Nitril O-ring seals. The case is assembled with 12 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion resistant washers in 316 L stainless steel.