FAST, FU­RI­OUS, FEM­I­NINE

The Richard Mille col­lec­tion for women ap­peals to those who like their tech­ni­cal supremacy well-dressed

#Legend - - SPARKLE -

IF YOU THINK For­mula 1 rac­ing technology, newly in­vented ma­te­ri­als, mind-bog­gling mi­crome­chan­ics and avant-garde de­signs are hardly what make an at­trac­tively fem­i­nine watch that is highly sought-af­ter by women, let Richard Mille con­vince you oth­er­wise.

The dar­ing Swiss watch­maker is named af­ter its founder, French-born Richard Mille. Its brand has been win­ning women fans with its funky, state­ment-mak­ing time­pieces, which have cer­tain dis­tinc­tive fea­tures: con­spic­u­ous, ton­neau-shape cases and skele­tonised or open-work di­als that al­low a full view of the mi­cro-me­chan­i­cal show going on be­low. Richard Mille watches for ladies also boast man­i­fes­ta­tions of tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess equal to those in any high-end men's watch with com­pli­ca­tions.

Over the past 10 years Mille and his epony­mous brand have carved out quite a niche in the world of su­pe­rior watches. Mille is fa­mous for mak­ing some of the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced and ex­pen­sive time­pieces on the planet, and for pioneer­ing the use of space-age ma­te­ri­als in watches. In­stead of us­ing con­ven­tional ma­te­ri­als such as gold or plat­inum, Mille bor­rows ma­te­ri­als used in For­mula 1 and the aero­space in­dus­try, and then com­bines them like an alchemist to give his watches a unique ap­pear­ance and im­pres­sive re­silience. Car­bon nan­otubes, tough­ened

ce­ram­ics, car­bon fabric de­vel­oped orig­i­nally for the sails of rac­ing yachts, sil­i­con ni­tride, gold fused with car­bon and quartz, and Per­flu­o­roe­las­tomer are among the ma­te­ri­als that Mille favours.

Hav­ing wo­ven his ex­otic ma­te­ri­als to­gether, Mille then has his watches crash-tested by his brand's sta­ble of ath­letes, such as ten­nis ace Rafael Nadal, sprinter Wayde van Niek­erk, For­mula 1 driver Felipe Massa, Qatari high jumper Mu­taz Essa Barshim, and golfers Bubba Wat­son and Diana Luna. It is only when one ap­pre­ci­ates how rig­or­ous the process is that one be­gins to un­der­stand why Richard Mille watches carry such hefty price tags.

Richard Mille time­pieces at­tract more than just ath­letes. Ac­tress Margot Rob­bie, best known for her break­out per­for­mance in The Wolf of Wall Street, re­cently joined the ranks of col­lab­o­ra­tors with Richard Mille, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of other ac­tresses such as Michelle Yeoh. The part­ner­ship be­tween Rob­bie and Richard Mille will re­sult in a new a line of women's watches. The pro­ceeds from the sale of the watches will be do­nated to Young­care, a foun­da­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing young Aus­tralians in need of a high de­gree of care to live in­de­pen­dently and with dig­nity.

Mille loves all things me­chan­i­cal, and is pas­sion­ate about cars and aero­planes. They are what lured him away from his po­si­tion as an ex­ec­u­tive in the lux­u­ries in­dus­try to start his own watch­mak­ing busi­ness in 1999. By fol­low­ing a clear strategy and in­cul­cat­ing a de­sign ethos dis­tin­guished by its re­jec­tion of the su­per­flu­ous, Mille has turned his com­pany into the maker of one of the most suc­cess­ful watch brands that is still in­de­pen­dently owned.

The Richard Mille brand is as­so­ci­ated with tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion and has be­come an em­blem of all that is best. One of its time­pieces el­e­vates the wearer to a plane as lofty as that oc­cu­pied by the maker. Richard Mille watches are con­sid­ered among the most ad­vanced in the world be­cause of the technology they em­ploy. Mille's first watch, the ultra-light RM 001 Tour­bil­lon, is made of ti­ta­nium and car­bon nano-fi­bre. It was in­tro­duced in 2001.

At this year's Sa­lon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie, held in Geneva in Jan­uary, Mille pre­sented the RM 50-03 Tour­bil­lon Split Sec­onds Chrono­graph Ul­tra­light McLaren F1, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort with the McLaren-Honda For­mula 1 rac­ing team. It weighs just 39 grams or so, in­clud­ing the strap, which means it may be the light­est me­chan­i­cal chrono­graph in the world.

For Mille, func­tion­al­ity has pri­or­ity over ap­pear­ance. So ev­ery screw, ev­ery pin­ion, lever and spring in one of his watches must do its job, and do it with the ut­most depend­abil­ity and pre­ci­sion – rather as a rac­ing car per­forms its func­tion. At ev­ery stage in the con­struc­tion of a Richard Mille watch, the sine qua non of depend­abil­ity and pre­ci­sion are at the front of the maker's mind. Lim­ited pro­duc­tion runs and col­lab­o­ra­tion with celebri­ties add to the ap­peal of Richard Mille. Its watches are hot items at auc­tions, usu­ally fetch­ing high prices.

Richard Mille has a mas­cu­line im­age, but at­tract­ing women to wear its watches has al­ways been part of the busi­ness de­vel­op­ment strategy fol­lowed by the watch­maker. The com­pany in­tro­duced in 2005 the RM 007, its first watch for ladies. Since then, it has con­tin­ued to pro­duce tech­ni­cally and aes­thet­i­cally ap­peal­ing – even sparkly – cre­ations for women.

Women's watches by Richard Mille come in the same ton­neau-shape case as the men's watches, but the case is slightly elon­gated to suit a slim­mer wrist. The watches are more than just pret­ti­fied with di­a­monds and other gem­stones. All make use of the ultra-light ma­te­ri­als and high per­for­mance technology that dis­tin­guish the brand.

Mille called 2014 the “Year of the Woman” and at SIHH that year sev­eral of his cre­ations for ladies stole the lime­light. The flag­ship time­piece in his women's col­lec­tion was the RM 51-01 Tour­bil­lon Tiger and Dragon – Michelle Yeoh. As the name sug­gests, the watch is ded­i­cated to ac­tress Michelle Yeoh. The watch cel­e­brated Yeoh's ap­pear­ance as the sword-wield­ing Yu Shu Lien in the film Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon: Sword of Destiny.

In 2011, Yeoh had a hand in the de­sign of an­other Richard Mille watch, the RM 051 Tour­bil­lon Phoenix – Michelle Yeoh. With the RM 51-01, the ac­tress wished for her ideas about form and shape to be man­i­fested in the move­ment. The re­sult is no or­di­nary-looking watch. It de­picts a tiger with teeth bared and claws out, snarling at a dragon with red eyes which hisses back. The beasts look as if they are ready to fight for pos­ses­sion of the tour­bil­lon, hold­ing each other's

glar­ing gaze as they stalk through the levers and cog­wheels of the move­ment. Through the glass case­back, the golden limbs and trunks of the ad­ver­saries can be seen melt­ing into the me­chan­i­cal jun­gle.

The tiger and dragon are made of red gold, crafted en­tirely by hand, us­ing minia­ture tools made es­pe­cially for the task, and then painstak­ingly fin­ished with paint ap­plied by hand in mi­cro­scopic de­tail. The watch has a power re­serve of 48 hours, in­di­cated by a red line be­tween the 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock po­si­tions. The ti­ta­nium move­ment has a torque-lim­it­ing crown to pro­tect the watch against dam­age by over-wind­ing. Only 20 ex­am­ples, in ei­ther 18k gold or red gold, are be­ing of­fered for sale.

An­other out­stand­ing women's time­piece in the Richard Mille col­lec­tion is the ro­bust and pow­er­ful-looking RM 037 for ladies. This model is a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion, with a more fem­i­nine bias, of the orig­i­nal RM 037 uni­sex watch. The skele­tonised move­ment base­plate and bridges of the new model are in black ti­ta­nium treated with PVD. The watch has a large date win­dow at 12 o'clock, fashioned from two skele­tonised ro­tat­ing discs. It is avail­able with an 18k and red gold case­band and a scratch-re­sis­tant bezel in white or black ce­ramic, or in all-18k gold with one of a range of com­bi­na­tions of gem­stones and di­als made of di­a­mond, onyx, pearl or jasper.

The de­sign of the crown of the RM 037 for ladies is meant to pro­tect the move­ment, do­ing with­out the con­ven­tional at­tach­ment that ex­tends into the heart of the time­piece. The watch has a func­tion se­lec­tor which ob­vi­ates the need to pull out the crown. A pusher re­sem­bling a wa­ter drop be­tween and 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock selects the func­tion, and the func­tion se­lected is de­noted in a win­dow be­tween 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock. An­other, sim­i­lar pusher be­tween 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock ad­justs the date. The beau­ti­ful cal­i­bre CRMA1 with a sati­nated sur­face pow­ers the watch. Some parts are cham­fered, blasted and pol­ished to en­sure that ev­ery de­tail of the move­ment is a plea­sure to be­hold.

“Women’s watches by Richard Mille come in the same ton­neau-shape case as the men’s, but it is elon­gated to suit a slim­mer wrist. The watches are more than just pret­ti­fied with di­a­monds... All make use of ultra-light ma­te­ri­als and high per­for­mance”

For women looking for a watch that is un­apolo­get­i­cally ex­trav­a­gant and un­ortho­dox in de­sign and func­tion­al­ity alike, the RM 51-02 Di­a­mond Twis­ter is ir­re­sistible. This ex­quis­ite, high-jew­ellery time­piece has 14 di­a­mond cur­rents curl­ing out like a whirl­wind from the tour­bil­lon es­cape­ment at 6 o'clock. Black sap­phires ac­cen­tu­ate the di­a­mond-pavé case. A free-sprung balance and skele­tonised bridges in ti­ta­nium treated with PVD, along with var­i­ous sorts of hand-fin­ish­ing ap­plied to the move­ment, all add to the good looks. A torque-lim­it­ing crown pre­vents dam­age from over-wind­ing. Only 30 ex­am­ples of the RM 51-02 Di­a­mond Twis­ter will be avail­able to buy.

An­other show-stop­per for women by Richard Mille is the RM 19-02 Tour­bil­lon Fleur, a beau­ti­ful time­piece, framed by di­a­monds. The time is dis­played daz­zlingly by white-tipped sil­ver hands point­ing to di­a­mond mark­ers on a black back­ground. The fly­ing tour­bil­lon, the 36-hour power re­serve and time func­tions are driven by a man­u­ally wound me­chan­i­cal move­ment.

The RM 19-02 Tour­bil­lon Fleur hides a unique sur­prise: at 7 o'clock on the dial, set into the case of 18k white gold, is a hand-painted gold rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a mag­no­lia. When ac­ti­vated, the flower opens up to re­veal the fly­ing tour­bil­lion stud­ded with sparkling sta­mens. The tour­bil­lon, when re­veal­ing it­self, rises to pro­trude about 1mm above the move­ment – rather like a flower reach­ing to­ward the sun. The mag­no­lia opens and closes ev­ery five min­utes, or when­ever the wearer of the watch pushes a but­ton at 9 o'clock.

The mag­no­lia was cho­sen to per­form this demon­stra­tion of the watch­maker's tech­ni­cal mas­tery be­cause of the re­silience of the species, which has sur­vived for mil­lions of years. Us­ing me­chan­i­cal means to repli­cate the won­ders of na­ture was a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the Age of Rea­son. The RM 19-02 Tour­bil­lon Fleur – only 30 ex­am­ples of which will be of­fered for sale – is im­bued with the spirit of that age.

If the RM19-12 is con­sid­ered too os­ten­ta­tious by some, then the less elab­o­rate au­to­matic RM07-01 may be more ap­peal­ing.

This time­piece is a high­light of the Swiss watch­maker's 2014 col­lec­tion. The 45.66 mm x 31.4 mm ton­neau-shaped case is crafted in ATZ white ce­ramic or TZP-Z brown ce­ramic with the red gold case band, en­tirely in white or red gold, gem-set or pol­ished with var­i­ous op­tions for the dial and Car­bon TPT gem-set. The skele­tonised dial with dec­o­ra­tive pavé di­a­monds on the in­ner dial mir­rors the shape of the bezel and has cen­tral lu­mi­nes­cent red gold hour and minute hands with droplet-shaped hour ba­tons.

The watch is pow­ered by an au­to­matic cal­i­bre CRMA2 move­ment that has been de­vel­oped specif­i­cally for this model. It pro­vides a power re­serve of more than 50 hours and is wa­ter­proof to 50m. The base­plates and bridges are crafted from light­weight but re­sis­tant Grade 5 ti­ta­nium.

The vari­able in­er­tia ro­tor al­lows it to be set ac­cord­ing to the wearer's ac­tiv­ity. The patented crown is not di­rectly linked to the in­ter­nal move­ment, fur­ther pro­tect­ing the in­ner work­ings of the time­piece from ex­ter­nal forces.

As with all Richard Mille time­pieces, per­for­mance and dura­bil­ity are key el­e­ments in the de­sign. The del­i­cate and per­fectly ex­e­cuted equi­lib­rium be­tween per­for­mance and aes­thet­ics also makes this one of the most ex­cit­ing new women's watches of the year. Con­fi­dent ladies who are un­flus­tered if they wear a men's or ladies' watch may find the RM 67-01 is the pièce de ré­sis­tance in their col­lec­tion.

This ex­tra flat watch with a dra­mat­i­cally slimmed-down sil­hou­ette is 3.6mm thick. Com­fort­able on the wrist, this watch car­ries the Richard Mille DNA, re­veal­ing as much of the move­ment and fancy bridge-work as pos­si­ble. This is quite a feat of watch­mak­ing as most Richard Mille watches come in gen­er­ous three-decker, ton­neau-shaped cases.

The RM 67-01 skele­tonised dial re­veals the new au­to­matic cal­iber CRMA6 move­ment de­signed by en­gi­neers in Les Breuleux. The base­plate and bridges are cre­ated from ti­ta­nium and fin­ished with a com­bi­na­tion of grey and black elec­tro­plasma treat­ment. For max­i­mum leg­i­bil­ity, the nu­mer­als are filled with Lu­mi­nova and have been sculpted out of solid metal, mounted on rails at­tached to the move­ment.

Need­less to say, the RM 67-01 is a great looking watch. The fit and fin­ish are well ex­e­cuted and great con­sid­er­a­tion has been given to ev­ery sur­face in terms of its re­la­tion­ship to other el­e­ments of the dial, gear train, and case. At­ten­tion to de­tail is what makes real lux­ury and this watch shows why Mille is top of his game.

Each of these watches prove that Richard Mille is well in touch with its fem­i­nine side and, if anything, grow­ing bolder and sex­ier. Richard Mille time­pieces are just what mod­ern women de­mand: ultra-valu­able, high-per­for­mance watches un­like any other, cre­ated by a watch­maker that recog­nises no tech­no­log­i­cal lim­its.

Clock­wise from be­low: brand part­ner Margot Rob­bie and the RM 037 in TPZ black ce­ramic; RM 50-03 Tour­bil­lon McLaren F1; Richard Mille

Clock­wise from above: the rare RM 51-01 Tour­bil­lon Tiger and Dragon – Michelle Yeoh Asia Edition; Yeoh wears the RM 51-02 Di­a­mond Twis­ter; RM 037 TPT Car­bon; RM 037 in white ce­ramic fin­ish

From far left: there are just 30 RM 51-02 Di­a­mond Twis­ters; RM 19-02 Tour­bil­lon

Fleur; RM67-01 fin­ished in red gold; a view of the clear case back of the RM 67-01; RM 07-01 Gem-Set TPT Car­bon; the RM 07-01 in white gold

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