GAMES OF KINGS
Richard Mille deepens his connection with Polo, one of the oldest sports in history, as his brand is appointed Official Timekeeper to the Polo Club Saint-Tropez. Plaza Watch travels to the club to meet polo star Pablo Mac Donough, view the new RM 011 watc
Many countries lay claim to having invented the elite sport of polo – China, India and Iran dig in their heels over this tussle of origination, but one thing that is beyond dispute… polo is OLD. Some scholars cite the 5th Century BC, whilst the 1st Century AD is the date of the earliest known physical records of polo, which are Persian.
Adopted by the rival tribes of Central Asia, polo became a training method for the King’s elite cavalry. Although today’s matches can be an eye-widening spectacle of immense speed and agility, they are nevertheless a tame version of the historical matches that must have resembled real battle, with up to 100 men to a side.
Yet polo remains essentially what is always was – a noble pastime played by the privileged. The talented players of the modern game replace the Kings and
Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs that once smashed ball around the field on horseback.
Arguably the world’s finest and most decorated polo player in the game is Pablo Mac Donough. Plaza Watch is glad to meet the Argentinian big hitter at the Polo Club Saint-Tropez; the magnificent 30 hectare-green nestled between Saint-Tropez and Pampelonne in the South of France. The club house is as one would imagine, sheer refinement and old school colonial luxury, all leather chesterfield furniture, polished dark woods, and of course a well stocked bar.
Mac Donough is friendly and relaxed, and obviously very comfortable in his role as an ambassador for the Richard Mille brand. Explaining how the relationship came about, he says, “We have a mutual friend in the Royal family from Brunei. They have good relations with them and I used to play a lot with the Prince from Brunei, they were sponsoring the team from England, and that's how I became a Richard Mille brand ambassador. It was 2011 that we got in touch and we started with the deal in January 2012.”
To mark this initial union Richard Mille created the RM 10, a striking model in red gold with a skeletonized movement. And this was soon updated, as Mac Donough states, “We had an RM 10 which was given to the team in 2011, and then in 2012 we got this new one which is a tourbillon especially made to play polo – something very new – to have a tourbillon watch for playing polo, unique!”
The RM 053 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough is a fascinating watch, both visually, with its two dials pitched at 30 degrees, and in terms of resilience. True to the promise made by Richard Mille, all of the brand’s watches are constructed to the ultimate technological standards and can perform in the most extreme environments. Mac Donough describes his affection for the watches not only in terms of design, but also in this guarantee of performance. “First of all, I can always wear it and I don't have to think about it. Even though it's a delicate watch because of the movement, you can still wear it
“To have a tourbillon watch
for playing polo, unique!”
everywhere you go, all the time, and even playing polo. You don’t have to worry about it. It can take the hard bumps and the rough, extreme contact.”
Commenting on the latest watch in the polo series, which Mac Donough is, like us, only seeing for the first time – he is clearly pleased with the latest addition. “I like the new one, the RM 11 St Tropez, it's a very nice combination of colours. This is the first time I’ve seen it and I really like it – all the special releases from Richard Mille, they are always something special,” he says.
It is obvious that Mac Donough genuinely appreciates his involvement in the watch world and he understands the complexity and technical achievement embodied in different Richard Mille models. “I've always liked watches so I was very lucky to be contacted by a brand like Richard Mille. I know every watch they make. I've seen everything. I think I know much more than they realise because I always go to the website and I really enjoy reading about all the watches,” he explains.
The RM 011 Polo de Saint-Tropez is another stunning piece in this polo family. It feels substantial and comprises a ceramic ATZ bezel and caseback with a grade 5 titanium caseband. The details on the case and dial take their inspiration from the colours of the Polo Club Saint-Tropez logo, navy blue and white. The Polo Club’s logo is also engraved on the rear sapphire glass, completing the exquisite finishing of this timepiece, which is mounted on a grey rubber strap with a titanium buckle. It’s a limited edition of 25 timepieces that are available directly at Polo Club Saint-Tropez and official Richard Mille Boutiques in Europe and the Middle East.
When the time arrives to mount the horses and actually try out thwacking some balls around the meticulously pruned field, I’m tempted to ask if I can keep the watch on to test it out, but with doubts about insurance, I refrain. There are far more pressing matters to concentrate on – like staying on the horse.
Ed itor N i c k R i c e g e ts some we l l n e e d e d t i ps from Mac Donough.
T h e R M 0 11 P o l o de Saint-Tropez.
The RM 053 To u rb i l lo n Pa b lo Mac Donough.
M ac Donog h takes a we l l - ea r ne d r est .
T h e se r ene s u r r o u n d ings of th e St. T ro pe z Po lo Club
T h e R M 0 11 Po lo de S aint -Tropez.