Richard Mille Watches Are for Forward-Thinking Lovers of Time
You can spot a Richard Mille watch from a mile away. On the wrist of a gent, it sits like the big engine of a fast car, its gears whirring and purring as if they are moving time itself. This is not a tempered creation meant to slip (or sleep) under the cuff of a dress shirt. With its distinct architecture and, more important, the power that lies within, a Richard Mille watch announces its presence and, of course, the presence of the very confident men who wear it.
While not a household name like, say, a Rolex or a Patek, Richard Mille landed on the lips of the everyman because it was worn recently by an important man, Sebastian Duterte, the youngest son of the President. Instagram account, @filipinowatchradar, posted an image of Baste, as he is more popularly known, wearing an RM 11-03.
The social media account, which chronicles the watch preferences of the rich and famous and also reported in its caption that the RM 11-03 watch cost “around P9,500,00,” is not available anymore. Nevertheless, Richard Mille remains.
Here’s what you need to know about the young and unconventional luxury watchmaker.
Richard Mille, the founder, is a veteran of watchmaking.
Before founding his brand in 2001, Richard Mille already had decades of expertise in the watchmaking industry. Here’s an abbreviated origin story: The Frenchman started at a local watchmaking company in 1974, left to join jewelry company Mauboussin (to start its watch division) in 1992, and finally struck out on his own in the late ’90s.
Next, Mille, then 50 years old, and his colleague and friend Dominique Guenat (they both loved cars and planes) founded Horométrie SA company and then established the Richard Mille label in October 2001. For the namesake brand, Mille's goal was to push the limits of watchmaking with experimental materials and design, and so its first watch had to be a dream watch—his dream watch. This took three years to develop and, notably, had “little regard for production costs.”
Richard Mille, the brand, breaks the limits.
Seventeen pieces of the RM 001 were the result of all that dreaming. The model, which was unveiled at Baselworld also in 2001, established the hallmarks of Richard Mille watches: the distinct (and ergonomic) tonneau case, the skeletonization that allows you to see what is happening inside, and stirrings of a complex movement, which, in this case, is a mesmerizing tourbillon. It was described as futuristic and high-tech back then—the watch for the new millennium was a break from the past.
Notably, the very first RM 001 was already expensive, clocking in at six figures.
Since then, the Swiss watch brand continued to dream up more watch models (there are over 80 styles today), each of which stretching the limits of materials and technology, design and price.
Richard Mille, the watches, are high-tech machines.
Casual observers may comment its watches look like miniaturized engines that belong under the hood of something powerful. These would be astute remarks as Richard Mille is influenced by the fast machines of land, sky, and water—racing, aeronautics, and sailing.
Moving away from the idea that luxury watches must be made with classic and precious elements, Richard Mille embraced lighter and high-performance materials like titanium, carbon nanofiber, graphene, and more, resulting in, say, the lightest tourbillon wristwatch, the RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon. We imagine this would help the champ when delivering a killer serve.
To this point, it must be added that the label’s penchant for using revolutionary materials is not just for the sake of using revolutionary materials. For Richard Mille, function dictates form: “every pinion, lever, and spring must fulfill its mission.” There's a reason behind the novel form of its watches.
Richard Mille’s RM 11-03 is a 3D remake.
About that famous watch: The RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph is a remake of the original RM 11 from 2007. Richard Mille says the highlight of the new model is the automatic RMAC3 caliber and the special way its whirrings and stirrings have been made part of the watch’s design. There's a three-dimensional quality—note how things appear to float in a glass box.
The eye travels to particular features: the reworked tonneau case (more modern), the oversize date display in the red window, the crown that recalls car rims, the grooved pushers that look like car pedals, and all that juicy yellow highlights. Of course, you should appreciate the flyback chronograph function, too, a neat little trick that instantly returns the seconds hand to zero when using the stopwatch.
No doubt, this—or any other Richard Mille creation—is a standout, a dream watch, as Mille envisioned it way back then. With a high degree of experimentation in design and technology, these watches are not for the average Joe, who just wants to determine the time, impress his date, or plunk money into something old and precious.
It takes a higher degree of appreciation to grasp the full worth of a Richard Mille watch, and we hope its wearers know how lucky they are to have all that skill, research, and artistry sitting on their wrist.