Richard Mille Event in Munich

May 30, 2016 - Events, Watches

When I was invited to celebrate the opening of Richard Mille’s first flagship boutique in Germany on the renowned Maximilianstrasse in Munich, I knew little about this luxury watch brand, except that it has many a celebrity client amongst the ranks of Pharrell, Seal and most importantly, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Petkov.
Which is probably why, when, upon entering the boutique that was filled with journalists and deciding to walk up to a group of gentlemen to politely ask each of them which publication they wrote for in an attempt to make some small-talk. I was rather dumbfounded when I was greeted with a round of laughter and the following answer from the last of three gentlemen whom I had directed the question to: “I am Richard Mille”. Awkward.
I am no stranger to the world of luxury watches – yet one couldn’t blame me for this awkward mistake: the gentleman was somewhere in his late 60’s and clearly too old to be a third generation offspring of the brand’s founder and namesake, yet too young to be the actual founder. Most luxury watch brands, as you know, were founded hundreds of years ago and are now owned by luxury conglomerates. None, or very few, are still in the hands of those distantly related to their founders.
Richard Mille is an exception and in fact, as I discovered, this watch brand is exceptional in more ways than one.
At age 50, in 1999, French born Richard Mille left the company he was working for to start his own watch brand – a move that for a man of his age was absolutely unheard of in France.  Today, Richard Mille SA has its own manufacture in Switzerland with 300 employees, offices in Paris and London and 30 boutiques all over the world. With the cheapest model priced at a staggering 80.000 Euros , the first question that arose in my mind was what has catapulted the brand to where it is today in only 16 years?!  Here are the answers to this question, compressed into four points:

The distinctive tonneau shape of all Richard Mille Timepieces. While initially, Richard Mille wanted to make his models square, the tonneau shape evolved out of a need for more space. A square casing was unable to fit all the intricate mechanics.

A wise choice in employees. Richard Mille’s high-level employees were interestingly poached from non-watchmaking backgrounds: his online marketing and social media manager used to work for PlayStation while his marketing director comes from an automotive background. Elements of both (visual ergonomy, ergonomy of wear, the slogan “a racing machine for the wrist”, high-tech and futuristic design) can be seen within the design of every timepiece.

The unbearable lightness of being: while Richard Mille watches look bulky and heavy, they are remarkably light and confortable to wear.

The manner in which Richard Mille works with its partners, whom they purposely do not refer to as brand ambassadors as they are never actually pictured wearing their watches in advertising campaigns. Instead, the likes of Rafel Nadal and Felipe Massa actually bring their input on what makes a watch useful and comfortable to wear in their particular fields. Richard Mille then creates watches based on these criteria and recommendations.

So, as you can see, there is a whole lot to be learned from awkwardly referring to brand’s owner, CEO and creative director as a journalist – in future, I will be a whole lot more careful!

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Diary Deluxe follows the Publishing Group Deluxe’s team on their travels, experiences, their visits to events and their exploits in Europe and the world. Here, we will be presenting the best from the world of luxury.