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Richard Mille - Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

Richard Mille Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

Richard Mille is one of the very few Maisons to wager on the alliance between "women & car racing". In the company of Amanda Mille, this 20th edition of the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille provides an opportunity to take a look in the rear-view mirror at this unusual and successful tandem.

Starting from a line of stands is good. Setting off from Place Vendôme is better. On Saturday June 1st, final checks of the cars driven by the 90 crews entered in the Rallye des Princesses were done on the famous Parisian square, under the scrupulous eye of the judges – and of Richard Mille, title partner of the event for the fifth consecutive edition. 

Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

© Richard Mille

A curious pairing

In an interesting paradox, all the major watch brands have women's collections, and almost all have of them also have a more or less pronounced affiliation with the automobile world – whether vintage or contemporary, racing or leisure. And yet very few connect the two worlds – with the notable exception of the Rallye des Caprices sponsored by Girard-Perregaux, and the Rallye des Gazelles sponsored by Saint-Honoré. 

Nor was there any apparent likelihood of Richard Mille being willing to take the plunge, yet two very specific facts have led it in this direction. The first is that there are almost no women's car rallies in the world, as opposed to a plethora of races dedicated to men. The existence of the Rallye des Princess was thus a not-to-be-missed opportunity. 

The second is the growing proportion of female Richard Mille customers. The formerly essentially virile, testosterone-driven brand has become considerably more feminized. "Today, one in four Mille watches is sold to a woman," says Amanda Mille, the brand’s head of clientele. "We aim to dedicate about 35% of the collection to them.”

Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

© Richard Mille

A canvas of glamorous events

This progress involves several events (including the very glamorous Chantilly Art & Elegance Richard Mille) as well as naturally through the development of specific models for female customers. "Our very first in-house automatic tourbillon was first fitted in a ladies’ watch, the RM 71-01 Talisman Automatic Tourbillon, in 2018," recalls Amanda Mille. All the "RM" feminine creations are under the responsibility of a woman, Cécile Guenat, Artistic Director of the Women's Collections. While few Manufactures take such a double precaution of entrusting all feminine developments... to a woman, Richard Mille adopts this self-evident approach on a daily. Basis.

Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

© Richard Mille

The future of the partnership with the Richard Mille Rallye des Princesses seems guaranteed. "It's an ideal event for us," says Amanda Mille. "It allows us to offer our customers a genuine experience. They appreciate the opportunity to spend some time together. However, the Richard Mille Rallye des Princesses is not the only entry point for our clients in terms of events. We are increasingly oriented towards the art world (partnership with Frieze Art Fair at the international level and a three-year partnership with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris). In parallel, as always, we remain open to other affinities, partnerships, or simply other friends of the brand who may join us later. “

Despite this, the brand has not yet created its own automobile-inspired watch... for women. This too would be an obvious step, but no Maison has yet had the audacity to make it happen. "Why not? "says Amanda Mille. After a 2019 season dedicated to marshmallows and barley sugars (Richard Mille Bonbon Collection - SIHH 2019), we can reasonably expect... absolutely anything!

 

Twenty years at the wheel: a Rally that goes the extra Mil(l)e

© Richard Mille

The brand

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.

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