Basel Tales of Time and Craft

  • The world of luxury watches is often defined by innovation, craftsmanship, and exclusivity. Richard Mille, a brand synonymous with avant-garde design and horological excellence, showcased its mastery with two standout pieces at the Christie’s Important Watches auction held on June 5, 2024. The SIGNED RICHARD MILLE, TOURBILLON SKULL MODEL, REF. RM52-01, CIRCA 2018, and the SIGNED RICHARD MILLE, LIMITED EDITION, RM56-02 AO TOURBILLON SAPPHIRE MODEL, CIRCA 2015, captivated collectors and enthusiasts, fetching astronomical prices.


    Auction Price: USD 1,260,000

    The RM52-01 Tourbillon Skull is a striking embodiment of Richard Mille’s bold aesthetic and technical prowess. Released circa 2018, this model is instantly recognizable for its skull motif, which serves as both a design element and a structural component of the watch.

    Design and Features:

    • Skull Motif: The skull, crafted from grade 5 titanium, is not merely decorative. It forms the movement’s baseplate, with the tourbillon’s cage positioned in the jaws of the skull, symbolizing the brand’s fusion of art and engineering.
    • Materials: The case is made from a composite material that blends carbon nanotubes with black PVD-treated titanium, ensuring durability and lightweight comfort.
    • Movement: The manual-winding tourbillon movement offers a power reserve of approximately 48 hours, visible through the skeletonized dial and case back.

    The RM52-01’s unique design and innovative use of materials make it a standout piece in the Richard Mille collection. Its auction price of USD 1,260,000 reflects its desirability among collectors who appreciate both its artistic and technical attributes.


    Auction Price: USD 3,014,500

    The RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire is a testament to Richard Mille’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of watchmaking. Introduced in 2015, this limited edition model is renowned for its transparency and complexity.

    Design and Features:

    • Sapphire Case: The case is entirely crafted from sapphire crystal, offering a clear view of the intricate movement from all angles. Sapphire is incredibly hard and scratch-resistant, yet challenging to work with, highlighting the technical expertise required to create this watch.
    • Cabling System: The RM56-02 features a unique cabling system inspired by suspension bridges. The movement is suspended within the case by a system of pulleys and cables, minimizing shock impact and ensuring precision.
    • Movement: The manual-winding tourbillon movement is fully visible through the sapphire case, showcasing Richard Mille’s dedication to transparency and detail. It provides a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

    The RM56-02’s innovative use of sapphire and its complex movement design resulted in a staggering auction price of USD 3,014,500, underscoring its status as a masterpiece of modern horology.

  • The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Égalité avec Seconde Morte ‘Joaillerie’ stands as a testament to the brilliance and innovation of modern watchmaking. Crafted circa 2010, this exquisite timepiece not only showcases technical mastery but also features luxurious adornments, making it a prized possession among collectors.

    Features and Technical Marvels

    F.P. Journe is renowned for creating watches that blend traditional horology with groundbreaking advancements. The Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Égalité avec Seconde Morte ‘Joaillerie’ is no exception, offering a range of features that highlight its complexity and beauty:

    • Tourbillon Mechanism: The watch’s tourbillon is a masterpiece of engineering, designed to counteract the effects of gravity on the escapement, enhancing precision.
    • Remontoir d’Égalité: This mechanism ensures constant force is delivered to the escapement, maintaining accuracy as the mainspring unwinds.
    • Seconde Morte: Also known as deadbeat seconds, this complication makes the seconds hand tick in discrete steps rather than sweeping smoothly, a rare feature in mechanical watches.
    • Joaillerie Adornments: The ‘Joaillerie’ version is embellished with precious stones, elevating its aesthetic appeal and exclusivity.

    Historical Significance

    Introduced in the early 2000s, the Tourbillon Souverain series has been celebrated for its innovative approach to timekeeping. The incorporation of the remontoir d’égalité and deadbeat seconds complications demonstrates F.P. Journe’s commitment to precision and excellence. This particular model, produced around 2010, represents a period of significant advancement for the brand, solidifying its reputation in haute horlogerie.

    A Record-Setting Auction

    The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Égalité avec Seconde Morte ‘Joaillerie’ recently fetched an impressive bid at Sotheby’s Fine Watches auction, held from May 30 to June 11, 2024. This event, which took place in New York at 10:00 AM EDT, saw the timepiece sell for USD 576,000. This result highlights the high demand and appreciation for F.P. Journe’s craftsmanship and innovation.

    The auction attracted collectors and enthusiasts from around the globe, eager to acquire this horological masterpiece. The watch’s combination of technical complexity and luxurious design undoubtedly contributed to its significant auction price.


    The F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Égalité avec Seconde Morte ‘Joaillerie’ is more than just a watch; it is a celebration of precision engineering and exquisite design. Its historical significance, coupled with its recent record-setting auction result, cements its status as a coveted piece in the world of luxury watches. Collectors and horology aficionados alike continue to admire and seek out this remarkable timepiece, ensuring its legacy for years to come.