How Richard Mille Made a $ 250,000 Watch Ubiquitous

Richard Mille Watches were considered an insider’s secret in the world of watches. In fact, watches have a 6-7 digit price tag and are often referred to as “secret millionaire handshakes.” Fast-forwarding in 2021, what once made the watch so rare, the stunning price, became a staple of star wrists, from Jay-Z and Drake to Rafael Nadal and Odell Beckham Jr. is. Seemingly overnight, the brand, considered an antique among watch nuts, has instead become one of the hottest and most famous watchmakers on the planet.

French entrepreneur and designer Richard Mille clenched his teeth to Parisian jeweler Mauboussin before launching the watch brand in 2001. His first product, the RM 001 Tourbillon, was inspired by the Formula One race car and its distinctive tonneau shape. The incorporation of case studies and engineering techniques developed for F1 quickly caught the attention of collectors.

The watch world was frowned upon at the price of $ 135,000 at the time. This was an unknown name that offered more expensive watches than some of the most important Patek Philippe. The flashy debut spawned the first of many apocrypha Richard Mille stories. Rumor has it that the origins of Mill’s luxury prices can be traced back to his first ad. Financial Times, If the copywriter accidentally adds a “0” to the MSRP. Mill received so many inquiries that the number remained advertised. (Rumor that the brand denies it.) Needless to say, many eyebrows are still arched, but RM can’t keep the watch in stock. Ironically, exorbitant pricing has become one of the brand’s biggest selling points. Flex is of utmost importance to ultra-online watch lovers. But RM is not all flash.

Pictured here are two recent men’s releases, the RM 11–05 Automatic Flyback Chronograph GMT and the RM 12–01 Tourbillon. The RM 11 case is forged from gray cermet, an aerospace material close to the hardness of diamonds. Only 140 were made and each returns you to the cool $ 239,000. The RM 12 features a unibody carbon TPT base plate, a design feature commonly found in racing cars. As a result, the movement and case can withstand an incredible force of 5,000 g, at an equally incredible price of $ 1,111,000. The lightness and durability of Richard Mille’s tourbillon has made it possible for Nadal, Beckham Jr., Yohan Blake and others to wear it in competition. Thanks to space-era technology, Nadal’s original RM 027 is extremely light and can float on water.

The most innovative part of Richard Mille’s legacy may be removing stuffiness from luxury watchmaking. Why he seems to ask, does an expensive watch have to be so solid and serious? At the 2019 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the brand unveiled a new “bonbon” collection designed with citrus fruits and marshmallows dancing on the dial. These sweet wrist ornaments cost more than $ 120,000 and were one of Frank Ocean’s first wears. Mill may be controversial and controversial among traditional watch collectors, but knowing exactly what he enjoys most in the watch world and what he is doing right now. Cannot be denied.

A version of this story was originally published in the April 2021 issue entitled “How Richard Mille Made a $ 250,000 Watch Ubiquitous.”

How Richard Mille Made a $ 250,000 Watch Ubiquitous

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