Luxury watchmakers Richard Mille have announced the opening of Proart, an ultra-contemporary 3,000 m2 factory in Les Breuleux, Switzerland. The factory is a major milestone for the manufacture, allowing Richard Mille to produce its own cases and certain movement components (including baseplates and bridges).
The announcement comes in the wake of news that Swiss watchmakers are struggling to cope with the Swatch Group’s parts sale ban. Up until last year the Swatch Group, which is the world’s largest holder of watch manufactures, sold mechanical movements and watch components. However, in 2012 the group announced it would cut off access to its rivals, restricting the sale of parts to their own subsidiary companies (which include Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Omega and Longines). As a result, companies wishing to retain their “made in Switzerland” label have faced fierce competition for parts.
Richard Mille have said that the new facility is in line with the brand’s growth strategy, and it will undoubtedly help the company consolidate its market position. With the increasingly complicated technical quality of Richard Mille watches progressing in recent years, as demonstrated by the RM 039 Aviation E6-B Flyback Chronograph, direct control over volumes and standards at their in-house facility will also benefit the manufacture.
The factory, located in the northwestern Jura canton of Switzerland, has been more than two years in the making. Designed by the Chavanne architects’ office, the factory is at the cutting edge of environmental considerations thanks to the materials used in its construction. While finishing touches to the building are still being completed, the machinery is up and running, with about thirty CNC programmers, inspectors and polishers already hard at work on-site. Richard Mille estimates that the factory, which will be managed by Alain Varrin, will be fully operational by April.
Photo courtesy Richard Mille.