Tech and gadgets

Q&A with Watchmaker Richard Mille

The founder of the luxury Swiss watchmaker talks travel, the enduring appeal of high-performance timepieces and partnering with high-achievers

Since you started your eponymous watch brand in 2001 – which now has dozens of boutiques across the globe – what have been some of your proudest moments?

There are many. But perhaps the most amazing memory was when our first series of timepieces were shown to some of our distributors – and they sold out immediately. I went from one day wondering if my creations would be accepted to the next day having to produce more. But even as the demand increases year after year, I decided from the beginning that we would remain true to our fundamental principles. When our customers acquire a Richard Mille watch, they’re buying a work of art that is produced in small quantities.

How would you describe someone who wears a Richard Mille watch?

Someone who knows exactly what they want – a person who demands an all-encompassing, uncompromising view of luxury on every level.

Your company is known for using custom components. Which parts are you most proud of?

We were the first to implement carbon – in particular carbon nanofibre and carbon TPT® in various colours and forms to produce watch cases and even parts for movements, which was quite a breakthrough for the industry.

Richard Mille RM 60-01 Regatta
Credit: Youenn Boscher

Which watch industry trends are you keeping an eye on?

While smart watches have become quite popular in recent years, I am not terribly concerned about them: I believe there will always be a place for mechanical watches. That being said, the human wrist has limited real estate, and there could be some jostling for space if future technological developments, such as wrist-only smartphones, become a necessity.

Has China’s growing appetite for luxury products changed your market strategy?

Everyone analyses the Chinese market’s ups and downs for luxury goods on a daily basis, but I see it from a different perspective. The Chinese market has been important for Swiss watchmakers for centuries. In our case, China has been extremely good year after year: but like in every region around the world where we have a presence, we control our growth.

Rafael Nadal and Michelle Yeoh are two of Richard Mille’s most high-profile brand ambassadors. What do you look for in such partnerships?

First of all, they have to really like our timepieces, and be comfortable wearing them on a daily basis. It also has to be a sincere friendship where we enjoy our time together. More importantly, I am looking for people who want to be at the pinnacle of their field because our brand strives for the same, and we have to be on the same level together.

What do you always bring with you when you travel?

I wear a RM 60-01 Regatta (pictured above) most of the time. I am a light traveller, so a few sets of clothes and a pile of magazines to read on the plane are all I need when I am travelling.

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