If you’re looking for something outside the box, Richard Mille watches won’t disappoint. Gold fused with carbon, toughened ceramic, and nanotubes demonstrate just some of the advancements that make up a Richard Mille watch. Most of the brand’s timepieces have a tourbillon, bringing another level of technical sophistication to the escapement. Since the company was founded in 2001 in Switzerland, it has been turning heads with its state-of-the-art materials that are often used in the aerospace and racing industry. Its movement technology is also leaps and bounds ahead of other rival watchmakers. Grade 5 titanium, graphene, aluminium-lithium alloys, and carbon are incorporated into the processes often undertaken to create these leading movements, improving performance with new shock-resistant technologies and baseplates.
First and foremost, Richard Mille focuses on functionality. The brand has been maintaining relationships with McLaren Formula 1 racing teams and Ferrari since last year, strengthening its reputation in creating technically sophisticated timepieces for both on and at the side of the racetrack. McLaren's Lando Norris is known to sport the RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph, whilst Michael Schumacher has styled the RM 003 on his wrist. The reliability, robustness and superior performance of a Richard Mille watch spans further than the racing industry alone, however. Rafael Nadal made headlines with his love for Richard Mille watches. Actors, musicians and composers continue to strengthen the reputation of this prestigious watch brand, who is now associated with developing some of the most expensive timepieces in the industry.
All these factors go some way to explaining why Richard Mille watches are popular among horological enthusiasts. The watches have a distinct futuristic appeal and the brand likes bold colours, many of which can be seen throughout collections like the Bonbon series, which references swirling liquorice, marshmallows and lollipops through a selection of whimsical timepieces. There are many other reasons why Richard Mille watches are so popular. The models are powered by in-house developed calibres that feature tourbillons for enhanced performance, plus the brand’s choice in materials are often very lightweight, despite their daring designs. Many Richard Mille watches make great investments since they can appreciate with time.
Richard Mille, the man behind the prestigious brand, is a watchmaker that began his career back in the 1970s with a French watch manufacturer called Finhor. Rising through the ranks, he became the manager of the entire watchmaking operation before moving to jewellery company, Mauboussin and then finally launching his own brand seven years later. Here he teamed with Audemars Piguet. Collaborating with a watchmaker that has as much expertise under its wing as Audemars Piguet goes some way to showing the calibre and skill of Richard Mille as a specialist in exquisite timepieces. Within the first two years, the brand’s first watch – the RM001 was released. The success of the model instantly catapulted the brand onto the Haute Horlogerie scene.
Like every luxury watch, the price of the model depends greatly on the type of materials chosen for its design, as well as the functions of its movement. There are entry-level watches from Richard Mille like the rose gold RM 033 model, which boasts a very flat case and an all-around different aesthetic compared to other models. It can be purchased for around $80k. Other Richard Mille watches that are developed from unusual materials like carbon TPT demand a higher price tag like the RM 67-02 Automatic Wayde van Niekerk, which can cost around $290k. Exclusive materials paired with extraordinary complications are the most expensive of all. An example is the Richard Mille RM 052 Skull, which boasts a rose gold case, a tourbillon, and a skull-inspired titanium baseplate and bridges. You can expect to put aside around $1.14 million for this watch.
As aforementioned, high-profile endorsements have further leveraged the reputation and success of Richard Mille as a brand. Formula 1 drivers and leading sports personalities have turned to these watches for their unwavering precision and reliability, not to mention their strikingly handsome looks. In addition to its incredibly rare and durable material selection, most Richard Mille watches incorporate a tourbillon for enhanced performance. This feature acts as a rotating cage. The balance wheel, balance spring and escapement are constantly turning whilst the movement is operating. This addresses the issue that many mechanical watches are affected by in terms of physics. Offsetting gravity in this way improves the accuracy and performance of the movement by cancelling out the fast and slow impacts caused by gravity itself.
The RM 69 is a watch that pays tribute to previously banned masterpieces that once mechanically recreated suggestive scenes by playing with a theme of libertinism. In this same sense but with a whole new take on this bold and daring concept, the Richard Mille RM 069 (and its suggestive model number) proclaims itself as a message board for expressing love, passion and sensuality. In doing so it reveals words simultaneously as it displays the time. This watch is a boundary breaker and mixes playfulness with the disciplined concept of accurate timekeeping. The tonneau-shaped case of the RM 069 is subtly curved and features the “Oracle” complication that sets off the rotation of three grade 5 titanium engraved rollers to display the words.
The RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph McLaren is a sporty-looking flyback chronograph watch that boasts zesty orange accents and is powered by the RMAC3 Calibre, which features hours, minutes, seconds, a flyback chronograph, a 60-minute countdown timer at 9 o’clock, a 12-hour totaliser, an oversize date, a month indicator and a variable-geometry rotor. It is also limited to just 500 pieces worldwide, further adding to its desirability. Both Richard Mille and McLaren first worked together back in 2018. The case of this watch is crafted from Carbon TPT® interlaced with Orange Quartz TPT® for a highly resistant and lightweight structure. Echoing the design of the distinctive headlights of the McLaren 720S, the watch features titanium pushers whilst the crown is shaped like a lightweight McLaren wheel.
The RM 055 Bubba Watson is yet another popular Richard Mille watch whose grade 5 titanium movement displays extreme skeletonization through the dial-side of the watch. The model is innovative and sporty-looking with plenty of hand-finished elements. Inspired by the physical motions involved in golf, combined with the amplitude and precision required to be successful at this sport, the RM 055 watch was first released in 2011 and is powered by the RMUL2, which offers simple hours, minutes and seconds, along with a 55-hour power reserve. PVD- and Titalyt® treated baseplate and bridges are included in this mechanism, whilst the skeletonised baseplate and bridges have been subjected to intensive validation tests to optimise their resistance capacities, promising to withstand accelerations of over 5000 g’s.
The Richard Mille RM 052 Skull expresses nonconformity with its daring skull-inspired centrepiece revealing the manual winding tourbillon Calibre RM052 with hours and minutes. Its attention-demanding design refers to the “promise of eternity” but also encourages the wearer to make the most of life and every passing moment. The skull design is directly integrated into the complete timepiece. With the baseplate and bridges formed from grade 5 titanium, the upper and lower jaws of the skull hold the rubies of the tourbillon cage. One of the most interesting features of this Richard Mille watch is how the case is stabilised and connected to four bridges that form the crossbones of the skull itself.
With vivid shots of green and yellow injected across its design, the Richard Mille 61-01 Yohan Blake was designed for the Olympic medallist and 2nd fastest man over 100m and 200m. Its skeletonised grade 5 titanium movement is treated with PVD and Titalyt® to provide maximum performance. It has also been tested for impacts of over 5,000 g’s. More accurate and repeatable calibration is also guaranteed thanks to 4 small adjustable weights that are located directly on the balance. In addition to this, the double-barrel system stores energy across two winding barrels instead of one, reducing pressure on the teeth, bearings and pivots, as well as increasing the number of rotations for overall better performance.
To conclude, Richard Mille watches are so popular for many well-deserved reasons. It is the expertise of the watchmaker and the image it has created for itself that predominantly piques the interest of any watch connoisseur. Secondly, the manufacturer submerses itself in a universe of unique and unusual materials, exploring and experimenting as it goes along to bring a “never-been-seen-before” look with the release of each new innovation. These materials come at a price, as does the level of complexity behind the manufacturing of each meticulously crafted Richard Mille movement. Legions of fans would agree that for a head-turning, complex-looking and memorable watch guaranteed to hold its value over time – it can only be a Richard Mille watch.