Stepping into the Richard Mille boutique in Milan
Last January, while I was in Geneva attending the SIHH, I had the privilege to officially visit the Richard Mille boot and interview Mr Peter Harrison, CEO of the EMEA region for the brand. Our conversation proved to be very useful because it gave me the chance to learn a lot about the brand, everything I knew about it mainly revolved around having seeing one of its watches wrapped around Felipe Massa's wrist and that was pretty much it.
I knew that Richard Mille is a "hyper brand" in high-end watchmaking, which uses very advanced technologies and materials, but I was still missing the more interesting details and the answer to a question that I had had on my mind for a while: why should a gentleman go for a Richard Mille watch instead of choosing other brands in the benchmark? That was something that I asked Mr Harrison during our conversation (in the name of fairness I won't disclose the name of the other competing brands) and his answer, in a nutshell, was pretty much this: ”There's nothing around that could even look like a Richard Mille.”
During our 30-minute-slot at the exhibition my photographer and I didn't have enough time to get our hands on all the Richard Mille's novelties and the photo material that we got was so poor to force me to postpone a review about the brand, however I was quite sure that I would have another chance to review the watches once back in Italy and also to take a closer and better look at the brand's collections.
Last weekend, while most of you were enjoying the sun and relaxing, I spent some time with my camera inside the Richard Mille boutique on Via della Spiga in Milan. It is a small and minimalist looking shop displaying some of the most complicated and technologically advanced time machines on earth. A Richard Mille is not just worth a photo but it is something that goes well beyond traditional watchmaking and it needs to be further studied and thoroughly investigated to be fully understood.
The pillars of the brand consistently link together the best existing technical complications (tourbillons, split-second chronos and so on) with Richard's burning passion for motoring, car making and sportscar racing. His timepieces draw full inspiration from the technical approach adopted by engineers when they design sportscar, their obsession for lightness, power to weight ratio and the ultimate combination between resistance and pure performance. That's why Felipe wears a Richard Mille while he's racing and I guess that it is the only brand allowed during competitions because it can withstand the G-Force and the shocks experienced during a race. This makes a RM011 not a simple expensive accessory but rather a real component of the racing experience and that is one of the first differences between a Richard Mille and all the other brands.
The dial doesn't really exist and every movement is conceptually based on a frame architecture to reinforce the concept explained above (the trellis frame architecture, for instance, clearly draws inspiration from a sportscar's tubular frame.) Also Rafa Nadal uses his Richard Mille watch while playing tennis and this fact proves once more that he and the other sportsmen that wear this timepiece are not only ambassadors in the common sense of the word but rather testers that are trying on field the brand's new technical features and achievements. It is a sort of moving laboratory, which never stops working. Another important fact: oustanding products need no advertisement and that is why it's hard to find any trace of rich and recurring ad campaigns from the brand.
During my two-hour-visit and conversation with Marco Dragoni, the boutique manager that I sincerely thank for guiding me through the various watches available in the shop and for helping me to run the photo-shooting, I took some pictures of various timepieces such as the Richard Mille RM011 Felipe Massa and the Richard Mille RM030 Polo Clube de Saint-Tropez, just to cite two, that will be further reviewed in the second part of this article.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®