ONE IN a Thousand
Watchmaker Richard Mille’s home in Brittany speaks of his many passions, learns lauren tan
“The noise is just unbelievable, isn’t it?” yells out Richard Mille in delight, hands covering his ears as a garage manager tweaks the engine of an F1 Matra V12 raced by Henri Pescarolo in the late 1960s. “Look at him. He’s like a pianist or disc jockey,” says Mille of the ruckus-making engineer bent over cylinders and valves. If the entire village wasn’t already awake this morning, they now are.
Metres away in a converted barn on the grounds of his 18th-century chateau, dozens more race cars are parked. There’s Peter Gethin’s Yardley Team BRM from 1971, what looks like and probably is Jim Clark’s 1965 South African Grand Prix-winning Lotus and a Jaguar E-type convertible among others. The humble home garage might as well be a racing museum — something that is perfectly apt of man who dreams up “racing machines for the wrist” that are worn by the likes of Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean and Jean Todt.
What one doesn’t expect, though, is a Richard Mille with a penchant for the isolation and quietude (when cars aren’t being tuned) of the French countryside. It was right about the time he founded his eponymous luxury watch brand, that Mille also purchased Château de Monbouan in Brittany, four-and-a-half hours outside of Paris. Arriving at the château means first driving through Mille’s apple orchard that is harvested every November for cider. The property’s remaining 85 hectares comprises woodlands, streams and gardens.
LOVINGLY RENOVATED OVER A DECADE, THE MAIN BUILDING LOOKS STRAIGHT OUT OF A MAGAZINE WITH ITS AIRY AND INVITING ROOMS AND ARTFULLY DISTRESSED FURNITURE