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Richard Mille - A Family of Champions

Richard Mille A Family of Champions

At this week's SIHH, Richard Mille has unveiled the names of more sportsmen that will join its ever growing stable of champions.

Some will say that if you rub greatness, there's a good chance it becomes contagious. Richard Mille doesn't really need that kind of help from the champions he endorses – he's got the Midas touch himself. And a highly touted collection of watches to prove it, many of them named for one of the most impressive group of sports personalities ever to be associated with a watch brand not named Rolex. Rolex has never quite had timepieces this highly complicated or with tailor-made features suited to the specific sporting activities of its ambassadors. Richard Mille does, through, for its very interesting and creative partnerships. And several of the new watches unveiled at the SIHH 2013 underscore this yet again.

On top of it, Richard Mille's gang has an unprecedented eclectic flavor. Why such an obsession for champions? “I've always considered a bit sad that high watchmaking was some sort of a ghetto and that it should be more open to sports, to lifestyle, to the arts. And I'm interested in working with champions because I'm not afraid to put my watches in danger. Usually, the traditional contact between watchmaking and sports is through photography; with me, it's different: all the champions I work with wear their timepieces in their respective fields and we're forced to have an extraordinary level of resistance and quality in our watches. Every champion's timepiece is an extreme watch for extreme conditions.” There's a new one being developed right now for Sébastien Loeb, the exceptional French driver with a record nine World Championship Rally titles under his belt. Loeb has been associated with small and affordable brand Marvin over the past few years.

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Strong watches, not Armstrong

Is there a specific star Richard Mille would like to have under his umbrella? “I'm sure there are a lot of champions I'd like to work with. Basketball players, for instance, but they're not allowed to wear a timepiece in official play. With rugby players it's the same. Unfortunately!” Richard Mille can't even name one favorite champion out of his own group: “I'm not being politically correct when I say that I love them all. I really do. Plus, I have a great relationship with each one of them. For instance, I've got a great friendship with Roberto Mancini, who's been here at the fair. The same with Rafael Nadal, Felipe Massa…each one of them. What is important to me is that they have great personalities. They are humble, really professional, true gentlemen. And I love to work with them for as much time as possible. Take my friend Massa, who's had his highs and lows and now is coming back. And such is life.”

Is it a dream team? “I'd say it is, because it isn't just the performance that interests me, it's also the personality. For instance, with Roberto Mancini we developed a watch related to football. And that's what I really like: to develop a new product with them. I love working with intelligent, subtle, interesting people. It's not just the performance – and that's why I'd say mine actually really is a dream team, because they form a group of such great personalities.” There's one suggested star that won't make the Richard Mille family, though: the worlds' best-known cyclist, Lance Armstrong. “I don't think so, no. Ha ha.”

 

More “technorological” creations

Richard Mille has created one or more exclusive series of timepieces for golfer Bubba Watson, polo player Pablo MacDonough, tennis champion Rafael Nadal, Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa and track & field sprinter Yohan Blake. At the SIHH, five of the seven new timepieces introduced were related to sports personalities, including two associated with FIA supremo Jean Todt. A sixth one, bearing the Sébastien Loeb signature, is on its way. Here are the new products.

 

Automatic Flyback Chronograph RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini

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Roberto Mancini, formerly a champion on the pitch and now champion of the Premier League as the Manchester City manager, helped create the original RM 11-01, an automatic flyback chronograph with annual calendar, central minute counter and a dial divided into periods of play conceived to assist a coach not only during matches but also during extra time. The dial displays match time on the basis of two 45-minute halves and up to 15 minutes of stoppage time. Pressing the pusher at 4 o'clock once actuates the flyback function and repositions the hand at 12 o'clock, ready to start the second half. If extra time is awarded, the flyback function can be reactivated to show the 15 minutes of extra match time and up to 5 minutes of stoppage time.

 

Tourbillon RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal watch

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It weighs one gram less (!!!) than the previous ultra-light, 20-gram RM 027 that Rafael Nadal started using in his greatest season (2010). The third timepiece resulting from the partnership between Richard Mille and the Spanish tennis champion will be used by Rafa himself when he comes back to the ATP World Tour next February after an eight month absence. It boasts a tourbillon capable of sustaining Nadal's incredible arm accelerations (more than 5,000Gs) during the course of a tennis match and the architecture of the movement, suspended in the heart of the case, is a marvel in itself. The RM 27-01 is available in carbon nanotubes and on a Velcro strap in a limited run of 50 timepieces. The other Rafael Nadal timepiece by Richard Mille is the Chronofiable-certified RM 035.

 

Tourbillon RM 59-01 Yohan Blake

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The multiple medalist and Jamaican sprinter has been wearing a tourbillon prototype on his wrist, which provides a real-life testing ground enabling Richard Mille's engineers to define the specifications of a watch specifically designed for athletics. Yohan Blake worked with Richard Mille to develop a special caliber designed for sprinters the world over and the mission was accomplished with the funky RM 59-01 tourbillon watch, featuring dynamic bridges that span the movement and evoke the claws of the “The Beast” (Yohan Blake's nickname). Machined from anticorodal aluminum Pb109 and anodized (through anodic oxidation), it is hand-painted in green and yellow, two colors that also appear on the aluminum flange in tribute to the Jamaican flag. Limited to 50 timepieces.

 

Tourbillon RM 58-01 World Timer Jean Todt Limited Edition

It wasn't until the 20th century that the time zones we have come to know were implemented uniformly and adopted unanimously around the globe. Jean Todt, President of FIA, is a man constantly moving through time zones. The RM 58-01 Tourbillon is a user-friendly timepiece dedicated to constant travelers. The tourbillon, positioned at 9 o'clock and oscillating at a frequency of 3Hz, is accommodated in a four-part case made from titanium and red gold. The shot-blasted, satin-brushed and polished rotating bezel bears the names of 24 world cities on its brown upper flange. In contrast to other time zone watches, the RM 58-01 does not need any adjusting push-piece to change from one time zone to another. The time is set by simply rotating the bezel anticlockwise. Profits from the sale of this 35-piece limited edition will be transferred to initiatives close to Todt's heart: the Global Campaign for Road Safety and the ICM Brain & Spine Institute.

 

Tourbillon G-Sensor RM 036 Jean Todt Limited Edition

Already introduced as a pre-SIHH product a few months ago, the RM 036 features the emblematic curved and ergonomic Richard Mille cushion-shaped case specifically requested by Jean Todt for a timepiece housing a tourbillon movement made entirely of grade-5 titanium and ARCAP, with a carbon-nanofiber base plate. The cocktail of futuristic materials provides the movement with optimal resistance and flatness, offering at the same time an appealing contrast with the finishing. It also boasts a brand-new complication: a mechanical G-sensor, developed and patented by Renaud et Papi exclusively for Richard Mille, which translates the movement of a small internal mechanism to an indicator, thereby enabling the wearer to visualize the number of Gs accumulated by the wearer during rapid decelerations. The scale located at 12 o'clock has a needle indicating whether the deceleration is safe (green zone) or critical (red zone) for the driver. Limited to 15 titanium pieces, profits will be donated to the global campaign for road safety and the ICM Brain & Spine Institute.

 

Tourbillon RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal

When it was unveiled at the 2012 SIHH, the RM 056 Split-Seconds Competition Chronograph Sapphire bearing the name of Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa caused a stir with its case made entirely of sapphire crystal. Following such a technical feat and determined to continue challenging the very limits of fine watchmaking, Richard Mille created another “transparent” masterpiece for 2013: the RM 56-01 Sapphire Crystal. The quest for extreme transparency at the heart of a titanium movement led the engineers to use sapphire crystal for the central bridge and third wheel. Caliber RM 56-01, made from sapphire crystal and titanium, is immune to temperature variations and wear. Collaboration with Biwi SA made it possible to develop Aerospace nano, employing nanotechnology to obtain unequalled transparency and strength for a revolutionary strap. Because the machining of sapphire crystal is an extremely difficult process, the RM 56-01 is only available in a very limited edition of five timepieces.

 

The Tourbillon RM 039 Aviation E6-B Flyback Chronograph watch

Not quite related to any traditional sport or athlete, the RM 039 Aviation E6-B pilot's watch is the other brand-new product for 2013 and displays practically all the information provided by the famous E6-B slide rule. Incorporated into the bidirectionally rotating bezel, it can be used to read off and calculate fuel burn, flight times, ground speed and wind correction, and to quickly convert units of measurement (Naut/KM/Gallons/ Liters/Feet/KG/LBS). Another special characteristic of the RM 039 that distinguishes it from other pilot's watches is that it enables density altitude to be calculated using a movable indicator incorporated into the case band at 2 o'clock: an original function brought to watchmaking for the very first time. The Tourbillon RM 039 Aviation E6-B is a highly technical instrument that embodies the bridge between watchmaking and aeronautics. Limited edition of 30 timepieces in titanium.

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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