Pick up a Richard Mille watch with your eyes closed and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was free with a packet of cornflakes. His watches are so light that its sports ambassadors such as tennis star Rafael Nadal and golfer Bubba Watson can wear them while playing, something that is never done because a conventional watch would affect their strokes considerably. The high-end Swiss brand has made its name by creating super-complicated timepieces that, as well as being ridiculously light, are highly durable. Horological legend has it that Mille himself once threw one of his watches at a wall to demonstrate just how durable it was. Mille got his start in the world of watches by starting work at Finhor, which was a French watchmaking firm. When the company was bought by watch brand distributor Matra, he became Director of Exports. From there he went to luxury French jewellery house Mauboussin, where he became chief executive of its watch division. However, in 2001, Mille decided to go it alone. His ambition for the brand was to surpass anything that was available at the time. Something the brand has continued to do. Richard Mille watches contain complications that you wouldn’t have thought possible with mere cogs and springs. There’s the RM36-01 Tourbillon Competition G-Sensor Sebastien Loeb (below) which was created for the F1 driver of the same name and has a rotary G-sensor inside, which measures and visibly displays on the dial the number of Gs accumulated by the driver during the different phases of driving.
Or there’s the RM11-01 Roberto Mancini Chronographe Flyback. This watch was designed for the Italian footballer and ex-Manchester City manager and contains a function that lets you know how many minutes of extra time are left in a game. Even its women’s watches are engineering marvels, with stone-studdied base plates and titanium bridges, such as this watch (below), which was created in collaboration with Natalie Portman.
The watches may be lighter than a watch bought with cereal tokens but there is certainly a lot of technical genius packed inside them. Proof, if it was needed that heft is no guarantee of horological prowess.