Richard Mille, president and CEO of his eponymous brand, always looks forward to Watches&Wonders. “I really enjoy the atmosphere and the interest people show. It is different from other shows, because people are prepared to ask questions, engage, be amazed and to experience wristwatches with an open mind.”
In a pre-show interview, Mille had promised “something spectacular that is going to make big waves; a timepiece that is a mechanical marvel and at the same time an instrument of delicious pleasure”.
The RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon is designed to “delight and amuse”. It features the new Oracle complication, which rotates three titanium rollers engraved with phrases expressing love and desire. They are activated by a button at 10 o’clock, and the phrase on each roller appears at random. The 30-piece limited edition has a 69-hour power reserve, so the wearer has ample time to read through the messages, such as “Let Me Kiss You Tonight”.
Richard Mille enthusiasts can also experience, and hopefully be amazed by, the new RM 022 Aerodyne Dual Time Zone Tourbillon Asia Edition in NTPT carbon. The RM 022 Asia Edition is the first watch to combine a dual time zone with an external structure in titanium combined with orthorhombic titanium aluminides and carbon nanofibres. This new carbon material consists of more than 600 layers, each with 30 microns thick of woven carbon filaments that are compressed and heated to achieve a high level of strength and rigidity. The dual time zone indicator is a transparent sapphire crystal disc inscribed with the hours, rotating through the movement. Only when the disc passes across a clear space at 3 o’clock can the numbers be seen. It is adjusted by a pusher at 9 o’clock which moves the time one hour at a time. The watch has a 70-hour power reserve indicator, a torque indicator to show the main spring’s internal tension, and a function selector to show the watch’s state in each of the positions for winding, neutral and handsetting. Mille describes this watch as “technically extremely complex, but also very user-friendly”.
The RM 022 Asia Edition is a watch which has been said to prove that innovative design and the latest technology are compatible with values of exclusivity and tradition synonymous with horology in the 21st century. Mille places it in the context of his personal philosophy. “I am not a watchmaker, I am a watch creator, totally in love with extreme technique – my real passion. I got started with my own brand because I could not find any watch that matched my ideals and dreams of what a watch should and could be in terms of design, materials, technology, movement, case or fit. My approach is to use the tradition of Swiss watchmaking, keeping all its valuable assets created through centuries, and I then push the envelope to project it into the 21st century and beyond with my own vision of applying innovative materials, new movements, designs and the highest quality imaginable to each creation.”
Only eight buyers will end up with the RM 022 Asia Edition, which will be showcased in the brand’s boutiques in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The manually wound tourbillon movement is housed in a 48mm case with the bezel and caseback in NTPT carbon, and the caseband in red gold. The case is water-resistant to 50 metres, and assembled with 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in stainless steel.
In a world of economic uncertainty, Mille adheres to a consistent approach. “Continue to make fantastic watches that people want to own, enjoy and fall in love with – it’s that simple. For centuries, the luxury watch business has known all manner of ups and downs; the only constant is to never compromise quality and stay at the top.” He believes that beautiful, technically superior products have an appeal that transcends market issues, at least for luxury watches.
“Human desire makes them resilient. Ever since people walked the earth, mankind has always created and enjoyed making beautiful objects whose only purpose was to imbue pleasure and joy. Watches are functional objects, yet they are also unusual and unique in that they have also become a deep part of expressing our personality, identification and interests to others in a world where uniformity is the norm.”
The RM 022 Asia Edition has dominated speculation on Richard Mille’s presence at Watches&Wonders 2015. In July, the brand launched the RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur, which is a large 45.5mm watch boasting diamonds and an exquisite flower automaton from which emerges a flying tourbillon – the brand’s first. “The interest in highly complicated timepieces for women has only increased with each year, and I love fulfilling this need,” Mille says.