Richard Mille Seventh heaven
The flag has come down on the 2016 Le Mans Classic, the seventh edition of the event to be sponsored by Richard Mille. WorldTempus was there, treading the tarmac, dodging celebrities and classic cars, and chasing down the latest "RM".
Barely had he recovered from his electrical episode (e.dams-Renault, a partner of the brand, is world champion car builder) than Richard Mille was back on the tarmac at Le Mans. In spirit, he probably never left. Surrounded by 400 guests, clients, distributors, journalists and brand ambassadors, he was in his element among the heaving crowds in the enclosures, who braved the blazing sun for three days. Given that this is the seventh time his company has sponsored the event, it’s not surprising that he should feel right at home.
A new flyback for Le Mans
The watches introduced over the years have all consolidated their reputation. This year the company presented the RM 11-02 Le Mans Classic, an automatic calibre in grade 5 titanium incorporating a variable geometry rotor, annual calendar, UTC display, 24-hour flyback chronograph and countdown timer.
The timepiece is dressed in the event livery, not only the movement but also on the ATZ white ceramic case and the white rubber collar of the NTPT carbon crown. It is available in a limited edition of 150, no small number for a company that manufactured just 3250 watches in 2015.
Stars and statistics
The figures for the 2016 Le Mans Classic are enough to make one’s head spin. 550 racing cars, 1000 drivers, ten former Le Mans winners, 8500 cars representing 180 clubs and 60 brands, and an astronomical 123,000 people.
Did they catch sight of the brand ambassadors? It’s possible, but not guaranteed. Pharrell Williams discreetly brandished the start flag for six consecutive starting grids, and Yohan Blake was only too happy to be involved in the Little Big Mans, a children’s race around the actual Le Mans circuit (13,629 km!). But there were no concerts, no declarations, no sprints. At the Le Mans Classic, it’s all about understatement and savoir-vivre.
An event apart
This event is somewhat different for Richard Mille. The watchmaker doesn’t sponsor a particular car or driver. The Le Mans Classic is all about reputation. Also, unlike other events, there’s no follow-up. Once the flag comes down on Sunday evening the party’s over. The next race isn’t for another two years, and there will be no more wins on other circuits. The Le Mans Classic is a colossal event, but it bears more than a passing resemblance to another major event on Richard Mille’s calendar – the Chantilly Concours d’Elégance. Richard Mille, who likes to get in on the ground floor, has also been associated with Chantilly since its first edition. See you on 4 September!
Richard Mille did not simply try to find his place in the watchmaking world – he carved one out for himself, constantly striving not to take anything for granted, and to make innovation and extreme technical prowess his driving forces.Find out more
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