#FirstClassFriday: 3 sapphire watches that put a futuristic spin on horology

#FirstClassFriday: 3 sapphire watches that put a futuristic spin on horology

Space-age superlatives

Text: Angelyn Kwek

Level up your watch collection with these revolutionary sapphire skeleton timepieces

Innovation and high-tech are words that get bandied about with enthusiasm in the horology universe, but this criterion cuts an increasingly narrow Venn diagram illustration as maisons today deliver sophisticated complication upon complications. In this sea of cutting-edge accomplishments, what's the X-factor that makes a timepiece stand out from its compatriots? Behold the next generation: Sapphire skeleton timepieces.

Typically carved from an entire block of this extremely tough material — second only to diamond and practically impossible to scratch — these creations are engineering feats encased in a seemingly delicate crystalline frame that begs a fascinated appraisal. Begotten with proprietary know-how by only a handful of manufactures (suffice to say they're all limited editions), here are three ultramodern sapphire watches to leapfrog your wrist game into the future:

1. Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire
That square silhouette is invariably a Bell & Ross signature but that's about where the similarities end as this particular BR-X1 marks a bold watchmaking milestone that puts transparency at the forefront. Built around a flying tourbillon master grand complication — machined from a single metal block for its main plate and pillars — the Tourbillon Sapphire also sports a mono-pusher chronograph powered by an in-house exclusive calibre BR-CAL.285. It's so astounding and exquisite; it's a limited edition only available in five pieces worldwide.

Sapphire skeleton watches

2. Richard Mille RM 56-02 Sapphire
Tackling this haute horlogerie challenge with that renowned watchmaking proficiency, Richard Mille lynchpins weightlessness and complexity with a lucid brilliance otherwise known as the RM56-02 Sapphire. So named for its manual-winding tourbillon movement, this timepiece ratchets up the technical stakes a notch by carving its baseplate, bridges and third wheel entirely from sapphire. In addition, the bezel, caseband and back bezel are milled from solid blocks of the same stuff, making it possibly the most damage resistant watch in existence. This is the one that will survive even the apocalypse.

Sapphire skeleton watches

3. Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari Sapphire
First seen in this high-stakes racing short film, this Ferrari-inspired construction looks more like an extra-terrestrial communication device than it does a watch. Eschewing traditional casings for an entirely avant-garde look, the Hublot MP-05 breaks all the rules to bring an utterly unique character to its wearer. Equipped with a vertically mounted tourbillon that spans 11 coupled barrels (and 637 components in all) to give the watch its famous 50-day power reserve, the movement requires so much time and torque to wind that it even comes with an electronic drill for the task. That's right, you won't find any crowns whatsoever on this bad boy — it's that many light-years ahead of the game.

Sapphire skeleton watches

For last week's #FirstClassFriday, click here.