Richard Mille

Founder, CEO and cre­ator of Richard Mille watches

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

Horol­o­gist richard mille mar­ries rig­or­ous pro­fes­sional ex­ac­ti­tude with an en­joy­ment and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the finest things in life, qual­i­ties he shares with the 40 young achiev­ers we fea­ture in the fol­low­ing pages.

The man be­hind Richard Mille, the tech­ni­cally so­phis­ti­cated watch brand that bears his name, is a phe­nom­e­non who has helped re­de­fine the face of con­tem­po­rary lux­ury watches, de­vel­op­ing ul­tra-high-end time­pieces that com­mand prices other watch­mak­ers can­not.

To un­der­stand how Richard Mille the brand made such an in­deli­ble mark in the lux­ury watch in­dus­try, one needs first to look at the phi­los­o­phy and life­style of its founder.

Born and raised in the town of Draguig­nan in south­ern France, Mille trav­elled to Bri­tain at the age of 20, where he spent a year learn­ing English. He was then ad­mit­ted to the Be­sançon School of Tech­nol­ogy to study mar­ket­ing. In 1974, he joined the French watch­mak­ing com­pany Fin­hor and later be­came di­rec­tor of ex­port for all wrist­watch brands within the group af­ter it was taken over by the in­dus­trial and aerospace con­glom­er­ate Ma­tra.

In the 1990s, Richard Mille joined Mauboussin, a French lux­ury brand, and soon be­came pres­i­dent of its watch­mak­ing di­vi­sion and CEO of the jew­ellery di­vi­sion. His new po­si­tion al­lowed him to be­come di­rectly in­volved in the creative process of watch­mak­ing and brought him in con­tact with a net­work of lead­ing Swiss watch­move­ment crafts­men.

Although these ex­pe­ri­ences were price­less, Mille felt his cre­ativ­ity was lim­ited by cor­po­rate con­straints such as pro­duc­tion costs and brand strate­gies. At the age of 50, he there­fore de­cided to cre­ate his own brand, with the idea of push­ing watch­mak­ing be­yond any­thing that ex­isted at the time, and with a new, 21st-cen­tury ap­proach to horol­ogy as his main ob­jec­tive.

It was a risky bet. Mille was plan­ning to de­velop one prod­uct only — the watch of his dreams and with no re­gard for pro­duc­tion costs. When that watch — the RM 001 — was re­leased in 2001, its €200,000 price placed the fledg­ling brand at the sum­mit of the lux­ury-time­piece mar­ket. In­evitably or­ders would flow, but on the watch’s re­lease it none­the­less be­came an im­me­di­ate suc­cess, with hun­dreds of or­ders con­firmed.

Today, more than 17 years later, the brand has joined a hand­ful of fa­mous names at the pin­na­cle of watch­mak­ing, its suc­cess ir­refutable. The Richard Mille col­lec­tion now com­prises more than 70 time­pieces, each de­signed and pro­duced with the same pas­sion and un­com­pro­mis­ing prin­ci­ples that guided the brand’s first pieces.

Since the be­gin­ning, Mille has adopted a guid­ing phi­los­o­phy: no mat­ter how out­ra­geous or ex­otic a ma­te­rial or tech­nol­ogy might be, for it to be part of a Richard Mille time­piece it must have pur­pose and demon­strate an au­then­tic im­prove­ment over the norm.

For Mille there’s no apol­ogy for be­ing the most ex­pen­sive or avant garde, just so long as each de­ci­sion, com­pli­ca­tion, move­ment, de­sign, ma­te­rial or brand am­bas­sador is there for an un­der­stand­able rea­son. Ex­cess is ut­terly ap­pro­pri­ate, so long as it aids the ob­jec­tive of be­ing bet­ter than the rest — even if it takes a spe­cial­ist to de­ter­mine that.

Mille today is the liv­ing em­bod­i­ment of the type of per­son he de­signs watches for — an in­di­vid­ual who’s con­fi­dent, bold, suc­cess­ful and wealthy enough to live a life of rel­a­tive leisure while trav­el­ling, and en­joy­ing fine cars and cui­sine. Some­one who’s a nat­u­ral suc­cess and has suc­cess­fully adapted to that life­style. It’s a fit­ting de­scrip­tion of the peo­ple who wear his watches — just like the 40 young movers and shak­ers you are about to meet.

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