DRIV­ING FORCE

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

Adore Gems & Timepieces - - HAUTE ICON -

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.

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