Richard Mille Watches
Richard Mille Watches (1999 -) Since Richard Mille (1951-) launched his watchmaking firm, horology experts and analysts have moved to agree with his approach, philosophy, and execution making timepieces: The products he releases compare in both technology and appearance to the time and care invested in the creation of Formula 1 race cars.
“We use the latest technology. The cars of Formula 1 are created the same way. A modern engine is constructed with the help of computer-aided design programs, [with] some details hand-polished. I take the best from the future as well as from the past, only for getting the right result,” says Mille.
Born in southern France, Mille started work in 1974 at Finhor, a local watchmaking company. Before this, he had studied marketing in Besançon, Draguignan, France. Always consumed by his interests in mechanics, Mille began his work at Finhor as an export manager. When Matra purchased Finhor in 1981, Mille quickly rose to manage Matra’s watchmaking business which, at the time, included the Yema and Cupillard Rième brands.
After Matra’s watchmaking activities were subsequently sold to Seiko, Mille left the company to begin a watchmaking business for the jewelry firm Mauboussin in 1990. Mille joined Mauboussin as CEO of its watchmaking division and Head of jewelry and became involved with the process of designing watches. It was from this point on that Mille developed his vision of modern watchmaking.
The Richard Mille Company and brand were created in 1999 in collaboration with Audemars Piguet. Based in Les Breuleux, in the Canton of Jura, Switzerland, the firm has, from the outset, had the support of the best Swiss movement manufacturers. In 2001, Mille created his first watch called, the RM 001.
Right from the start, Richard Mille followed a highly technical watchmaking design plan that included a re-inspired vision of watchmaking codes and a pronounced taste for challenge. Mille’s thirst for challenge concurrently brought him into contact with the world of sports that gave him a greater sense and understanding of high-level athletes.
Richard Mille and his friend Dominique Guenat established the development and production house, Horometrie SA in 2001 in Les Breuleux not far from the busy watchmaking centers of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. This joint venture between the two friends was later enlarged to include Montres Valgine, a company originally founded by the Guenat family more than a century before.
By combining their efforts and expertise, Horometrie and Valgine could now develop, produce, and distribute Richard Mille watches worldwide. An additional plant, also a part of the Richard Mille Group, was a watchcase factory called, ProArt SA that opened in April 2013.
ProArt represented another milestone in the development of the Richard Mille brand and further solidified its future by providing full flexibility for product development and production.
Richard Mille watch cases, as well as a number of movement components, including baseplates, pushers, bridges and bracelet parts are made from precious metals including titanium and its composites and are all created at this state-of-the-art site.
The first watch to carry Richard Mille’s name, the RM 001 Tourbillon, was launched at the millennium, and was immediately lauded in the press as the ‘dawn of a new era in watchmaking, a revolution.’ The models that followed built upon and improved innovations included in the RM-001.
The brand’s most famous models are the Tourbillon RM 008 (chronograph tourbillon) and the sapphire split seconds (chronograph tourbillon) RM 056. The RM 008 combines a tourbillon movement with manual winding, a chronograph split-seconds, a torque indicator, and a power reserve indicator. Claimed as one of the most advanced watches in the world, it is priced from 500,000 Euros ($531,000+).
The RM 056 is distinguished by its three-part all-sapphire skeletal case. It is a completely see-through model and the first watch case to be completely built from sapphire. A limited edition of five pieces of the Richard Mille RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire is now priced at $1.7 million. The RM 056 was declared best watch at the Salon Internacional de Alta Relojería watchmakers’ exhibition in Mexico City in October 2012.
Richard Mille watches are created using modern and super complex materials that are also used in the aerospace and automobile industries. When designing its models, the company is guided by three principles: complexity, the original technical content, and ergonomics. Additionally, they rely on three other crucial elements: the best technical innovation, the best artistry and architecture, and the best traditions of fine watchmaking with hand finishing.
Mille took advantage of high-tech technologies like carbon nanofiber and aluminum-lithium for use in his luxury timepieces. Mille was a pioneer in shock resistance with his employment of flexible tourbillion and barrel bridges, and a visionary when he utilized a rotating spring barrel that rivaled the smoothness of a Ferrari engine.
While admired for their beauty and elegance, Mille’s luxury timepieces are completely thought out. Every element from the tiniest screw is intentional. For instance, despite their robust power, Richard Mille watches are renowned for their reduced friction. Additionally, the curved case and lateral ribs of Richard Mille watches ensure strength, support, durability and comfort. The watch cases use superb and valuable 18-karat gold or platinum.
According to the firm’s official website, “Hand-crafted’ is the perfect term for describing the production process at Richard Mille. Every piece and part is unique, the work is executed by hand, five centimeters from the eye of the watchmaker. Although the parts for Richard Mille watches are made with the aid of the most modern and sophisticated machines … with an accuracy of microns, this is only the first step of hundreds that are ultimately and completely reliant on the interaction of human hands, eyes and experience for the achievement of true perfection. Once the movement is assembled, it is again thoroughly checked and reviewed by another watchmaker.”
The unique character and essence of a Richard Mille watch lies not only in its high mechanical complexity, visual design and ergonomic fit, but also in the handcrafted finishing and polishing by specialists who infuse each part with perfection through patience, keen eyesight and deft handwork.
Based on a watchmaking tradition that goes back centuries, hand finishing makes each Richard Mille watch a unique piece with personal and individual care devoted to the smallest details.
These finishing operations are the essence of a little-known art that is hidden within the heart of the movement and the case of the watch. A large number of Richard Mille parts such as screws, bridges, tourbillon cages, winding barrel covers, springs, hands and numerous other parts including the watch case are finished and decorated by hand.
The sandwich-style Richard Mille watch case is one of the most expensive and difficult to manufacture. Comprised of three decks – front and back bezels, as well as the middle section – each component is curved. There are no flat surfaces that make machining easier. Even more challenging is that the three curved surfaces have to fit together to within one hundredth of a millimeter to stop moisture or dust from entering.
Many microscopic parts are machined using state of the art technology. A Richard Mille timepiece distinguishes itself by devotion to finishing the smallest details in combination with a technological view of 21st century watchmaking.
Richard Mille watches are known for their high prices and for the celebrities who endorse them. These celebrities include American golfer, Bubba Watson, Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, both Formula One drivers, tennis star Rafael Nadal, Jamaican sprinter, Yohan Blake, Jackie Chan, Hong Kong action star, actress Natalie Portman, actor Sylvester Stallone, and billionaire, venture capitalist Tom Perkins who compared his Richard Mille watch to a “six-pack of Rolexes” during a television interview.
Richard Mille strives to go beyond the traditional pattern of endorsements and brand ambassadors. His company designs timepieces that personally involve each sportsperson who is a partner of the ‘RM Family’. They all wear the watches during competitions to test their performance in real time. For example, Felipe Massa raced with the RM 006 tourbillon for two Grand Prix seasons. Rafael Nadal was wearing his RM 027 for his wins in 2010. And Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, one of the fastest men in the world, has been running with his RM on his wrist since the summer of 2012.
Thinking beyond the 21st century, Richard Mille is partnering with leading horology developers like Audemars Piguet/Renaud & Papi to integrate Nano-robots into wristwatches.
Today’s collection of Richard Mille timepieces offers buyers the watch of their dreams. They are created from unique and highly complex mechanical tours de force for use on land, sea and in the air, to exquisite jewelry creations and everything in between.