What happens when the worlds of fast cars and haute horlogerie collide? Lydianne Yap catches up with Formula 1 race driver and Richard Mille brand ambassador FELIPE MASSA to find out
When Felipe Massa isn’t burning up the Formula 1 racetrack with his finely tuned Williams vehicle, the 34-year-old test drives a very different piece of precision engineering: The Richard Mille timepiece on his wrist. As the Swiss manufacture’s first and longest-standing ambassador (he has been with Richard Mille since 2004), Massa not only wears its watches to all his races — the Brazilian national also offers the brand his creative input from time to time.
Having just completed his 13th Formula 1 season, Massa has a total of 11 Grand
Prix wins, 16 poles and 41 podium finishes under his belt. He will continue to race for Williams in the upcoming 2016 World Championship.
In your opinion, what do Formula 1 racing and fine watchmaking have in common?
Definitely technique. When [founder] Richard Mille first started this business, he was very inspired by car racing technology and the methods applied in dealing with the forces at play on the racetrack. As a driver, it is important to understand your environment and have a reliable engine to perform. It’s exactly the same approach with watchmaking. The extremely high level of technique required to produce a Formula 1 car is as incredible as [that] in a Richard Mille watch. It’s all about performance and accuracy.
What does a race driver appreciate in a watch?
Technology — because it’s what we have in our Formula 1 cars. Car racing elements within a watch is also nice. Personally, [I think] that if you can mix design and high technology, you have a fantastic product.
You have been a Friend of the Brand for more than a decade now and have offered some design input to Richard Mille watches over the years. Tell us about some of these contributions.
My input is mostly focused on weight savings as comfort is very important when it comes to performance in Formula 1. The recent RM 011 Felipe Massa 10th Anniversary Limited Edition was the result of my request for a lighter watch. I also state my preference in terms of materials and colour preferences. I don’t really comment much regarding the technology of the watch or the way it should work, because Richard and his team are so creative and innovative that there really isn’t much for me to say! I’m always fascinated when Richard tells me about a new piece he is working on.
Which Richard Mille watch do you wear when you are racing?
I always choose the lightest watch to race, so I normally wear the carbon watches such as the RM 011 Black carbon, RM 011 NTPT or RM 035-01. I have also worn the RM 006, RM 009 and RM 011 Ti to races before. I switch them around depending on [my mood].
If you could create your dream watch, what would it be like?
A Richard Mille is already a dream watch! The pieces are so unique and reflect such creativity and high standards. Richard is so creative that he is always one step ahead in terms of design, technology and new components. He brings us watches that we haven’t even dreamt of yet.