I’ll start by saying that Richard Mille isn’t a classic. It’s no Cartier and no Jaeger-LeCoultre, but it doesn’t have to be actually. Richard Mille’s timepieces have a more modern philosophy, and wanting to be “the best in cutting edge” gives them another design perspective and a rather different audience to create for.
All their timepieces carry the embedded motto of “a racing machine for the wrist” and hey make it more than obvious that they’re build for raw performance and a futuristic shape. There’s no surprise that each piece is assembled by hand and carries very exclusive traits. And the racing reference is no accident, Richard Mille are deeply involved in the sporting world. An motor racing enthusiast himself, Richard Mille took to the industry with the aim of both promoting the brand but also as a way to test the performance of their watches and take them to their limits in some of the most challenging sporting environments.
With involvement in polo, golf and tennis – with Rafael Nadal as one of their main ambassadors – the racing world is still their prime interest. Richard Mille is a well-represented brand in three of the most demanding forms of motorsport: FIA World Endurance Championship, World Rally Championship and the self-proclaimed pinnacle of motorsport – Formula 1.
The timepieces inspired by these special racing machines feature some of the most lightweight and resistant materials used in the industry and have special functionalities that could serve as driver aid. For example the RM 36-01 created for the most successful driver in WRC history, Sebastien Loeb, is made of carbon nanotubes, titanium and features a rotary G-sensor showing his gravity-defying style of driving.
In the Endurance Championship, the brand is showcased on Alex Brundle’s OAK Racing prototype, while his famous dad, former F1 driver and current TV pundit Martin Brundle is also an ambassador for Richard Mille. Romain Dumas is another big name in RM’s portfolio; the former winner of Le Mans 24h race is taking his performance timepieces to Porsche’s new LMP1 challenger this season.
And while we’re talking Le Mans, Richard Mille himself competed in Le Mans vintage car race and his company was their official timekeeper, creating two special timepieces for the occasion, the RM 008 LMC and RM 011 LMC, both bearing the competitions’ classic logo.
Richard Mille’s presence in Formula 1 seemed pointless considering they already had Rolex as official timekeeper, but by associating themselves with top drivers and highly regarded personalities in the paddock, they managed to keep a high profile in the media. Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa and younger Ferrari recruit Jules Bianchi are some of their representatives and enthusiasts of the brand.
But probably the most high-profile association was with Lotus F1 Team, whose surprising revival over the past few seasons offered plenty of exposure for the brand. The RM 50-01 Tourbillon Chronograph G-Sensor Lotus F1 Team Romain Grosjean might have a long and intimidating name but it’s a clever piece of F1-inspired technology, with 30 exclusive pieces produced from NTPT® carbon and red gold. The intricate and lively dial has a G-sensor display, chronograph and the team’s logo featured on the antireflective display.
But Richard Mille’s involvement isn’t limited to drivers, their expert watchmakers designed special editions for FIA president Jean Todt with a G-force road safety mechanism that alerts you when you are decelerating too fast, and also a few ladies’ designs inspired by his equally famous partner, actress Michelle Yeoh. These pieces inspired from symbols of Asian culture are the highlight of the women’s collection.
So whatever motorsport you watch, chances are you’ll have spotted a Richard Mille logo somewhere in there. And if you ever owned a Richard Mille timepiece you’ll know it’s a natural match. The search of high performance and the constant use of innovative materials with unrivalled endurance are just some of the principles that guide the brands’ design philosophy and they chose the perfect ambassadors to showcase that.