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

Plaza Watch International - - Game Of Kings - Words: NICK RICE Photo: Richard Mille

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.

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