S o much of watch world cache is built on being in the know. The slight change in the hour markers or the shift from tritium to applied lume that makes one reference more valuable than others. This minutia requires not only a lot of knowledge but an expert eye applied at close range to help distinguish the rare and special from the simply nice to look at. In a world of whispers, Richard Mille is a Soprano’s aria – trilling away with a boldness that beckons you from across the room. That’s not to say that the watches are all flash and no substance, there’s a technical magnificence that makes the watches worthy of their price tag – this is no run-of-the-mill karaoke high note, this is a night at the Met.
Founded in 2001, Richard Mille is still a relative newcomer in the world of luxury watches. While many of the brands that offer pieces in a similar price range build on centuries of heritage storytelling and family business lore, Richard Mille’s fast ascent has been closely tied to both its newness and boldness. With bright colours and top-of-the-line and somewhat unconventional materials, it has made its name by placing pieces on some of the world’s most famous and stylish people. Known not just for its varied and vibrant colour palette, Richard Mille’s in-house movements, frequent use of carbon and titanium, and record-breaking engineering, have earned it a VIP place in the halls of collectability. Love it or hate it, Richard Mille isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Of the many bold and innovative sport watches from the maverick brand, we’ve pulled out six particularly notable pieces being offered in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Important Watches I this October to highlight. These pieces show not only the variety within the RM stable, but the influence the brand has had on watch culture and pop culture.
Richard Mille, Reference RM53-02
Only eight of these watches were made – and for good reason. Crafted out of scratch-resistant blue sapphire crystal, the case of the RM53-02 requires over 1,000 hours of craftsmanship to reach its sleek and lightweight form. Behind the beautiful blue tint lies the cable-suspended tourbillon movement, the beating heart of it all. The thin braided cables attach to the peripheral baseplate, ensuring that the movement runs smoothly and accurately. A rare sight to behold and an even rarer sight on the market, this is a once-in-a-lifetime get for a very lucky collector.
Richard Mille Tourbillon Bubba Watson, Reference RM038-02
Bubba Watson is the first celebrity to grace this list but he’s certainly not the last. Richard Mille’s influence touches the worlds of music, art, and sports. Watson’s relationship with Richard Mille goes back to 2011 when the brand created the RM038, one year before Watson would go on to win the Master’s for the first time. The latest in the Watson collection is the RM038-02 from 2022 which combines the incredible shock resistance needed to withstand a championship swing (at least 10,000gs) with the first-rate engineering that comes with thin watchmaking (the watch is 9.19mm thick), and the golfer’s good luck colour (pink).
Richard Mille Pablo Mac Donough, Reference RM053
This special edition from 2014 is named after polo player Pablo Mac Donough. Designed to withstand the rigors of the sport, the tourbillion is protected by a titanium case. The design, which is unique even among the already unique design language of the brand, positions the hour and minute dials at a 30-degree angle for easier reading while on horseback. Even if you keep your two feet planted firmly on solid ground, this watch is an almost-minimalist piece from Richard Mille that stands out from the brand's audacious collection.
Richard Mille Pharrell Williams, Reference RM52-05
Richard Mille and Pharrell have a long and delightful history together and this Limited Edition of 30 pieces captures the whimsy that both RM and Skateboard P bring to their work. Pharrell designed the dial, drawing inspiration from his childhood fascination with space, and it came to life through 15 hours of hand engraving, grand feu enamelling, and hand-painted finishing touches. The tourbillion, often the central focus of RM watches, can be seen at six o’clock. The case is cermet – a blend of metallic zirconium matrix and ceramic so it is both lightweight and durable.
Richard Mille Reference RM62-01
Taking things to the dark side, we have this limited edition titanium and carbon fiber dual time tourbillion. If all of that didn’t whet your appetite there’s also a vibrating alarm thanks to the oscillating weights that can be seen through a sapphire crystal display caseback. Produced in partnership with Airbus Corporate Jets, there are only 30 of these watches in the world.
Richard Mille Le Mans Classic, Reference RM029
The crossover between the watch and racing worlds is well-known, with almost every brand releasing an automotive-themed watch. Leave it to Richard Mille to produce something unique. Richard Mille, the man, is a classic racing car aficionado and he played a part in the launch of the Le Mans Classic Event alongside Peter Auto in 2002. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event Richard Mille, the brand, released the RM029. With its white and green quartz TPT case, white rubber strap, orange crown, and Les Mans logo the watch is an unquestionably sporty tribute to the high-speed world of motorsport.