Haute Interview: One-on-One with Richard Mille

Haute Interview: One-on-One with Richard Mille

Adrienne Faurote
By Adrienne Faurote August 18, 2014

In the latest issue of Haute Time, we covered the tight bond between high end watchmakers and Formula One (Read full article: Haute Horlogerie Brands Chase After F1 Partnerships). Richard Mille told us about his own passion for racing, and how that led to an authentic partnership between his brand and the world of the Lotus F1 team. Below is the full interview with Richard Mille:

Richard Moto _highres
Richard Mille is an amateur racer and collector of racing cars.

Arthur Touchot: The worlds of watchmaking and F1 have a long and storied relationship, and Richard Mille added another chapter to it when it broke into the sport. Can you tell us about that decision, why it was so important, and if it was a safe bet or a big risk at the time?

Richard Mille: For me it was not a bet nor a risk; since as long as I can remember I have been very active as an amateur racer and collector of racing cars and I have many contacts in the racing world and F1. So I knew exactly the kinds of people in this sport as well as their tastes and what they were looking for in a high end timepiece. Therefore, I was convinced from the very beginning that this was the place the brand had to be in order to reach the kinds of customers who would have the affinity with my philosophy and way of working in horology. For me it was safe choice, despite the economic constraints it put on us.

Richard Mille Automatic Flyback Chronograph RM 011 Lotus F1 Team-Romain Grosjean
Richard Mille Automatic Flyback Chronograph RM 011 Lotus F1 Team-Romain Grosjean.

AT: This year, the brand released the Automatic Flyback Chronograph RM 011 Lotus F1 Team Romain Grosjean which celebrates your partnership with the British racing team and its French driver. Can you tell us a bit more about this watch? Are there special considerations to take when you design an F1 watch, and do you seek feedback from F1 drivers and engineers regarding the watch’s performance on the track? 

RM: One of the first RM watches from 2005 was the RM006 carbon nanofiber tourbillon Felipe Massa; since that time we have learned continuously about the challenges of creating timepieces for the F1 track. The G-forces at play in the curves of the track, during acceleration, deceleration – and even during crashes – has been researched by us, and this pushed us to create a ‘torture chamber’ at our factory to test our watches in order to make sure they are always track ready. The drivers who wear our watches during races always ask us to make them tough and light, as did Romain, so we chose to make the bezels for this watch from our new NTPT material that is light, virtually indestructible and very tough in all conditions.

Richard Mille Ambassador Romain Grosjean at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix
Richard Mille Ambassador Romain Grosjean at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.

AT: Other independent brand, such as Armin Strom, have since followed in your footsteps. Do you think many independent brands will follow the example that has been set and how should they approach the sport? 

RM: There have been small and large watch companies sponsoring F1 ever since the sport began, so there is nothing really new about it. What is more important about it in my view is how coherent the sponsoring is, and what the company does to provide a real connection with the sport itself. At RM, I always work hard to bring new horological complications into my F1 inspired timepieces, like the first mechanical G-Force sensor in a wristwatch and another that can measure those forces in different directions, materials like ALUSIC, carbon nanofiber and NTPT as well as numerous mechanical details. So, my watches are conceived and built with the F1 technological spirit inside of them, in the same manner as the cars are built. I don’t believe that adding a color or a sticker on a watch turns it into a F1 timepiece, because I take such sponsoring quite seriously and my watches don’t allow for compromises.

For more information, please visit Richard Mille