“TODAY CLIENTS ARE A GREAT DEAL MORE SOPHISTICATED THAN BEFORE AND MUCH MORE SENSITIVE TO WHAT BRANDS ARE COMMUNICATING”
What will be your main focus at Richard Mille over the coming year? We will continue to innovate in terms of new watches, as we have always done since the brand’s creation in 2001. We never rest on our laurels, and this is also what is expected by our clients. We will also continue to open new dedicated Richard Mille boutiques in major cities such as Moscow and Beijing. We recently opened a flagship boutique in the heart of New York which is already attracting clients and prospects from all over the world. Our growth must be very controlled. Our objective is to drastically reduce the number of retailers by the end of the year, and then to have only boutiques by the end of 2019.
What new timepieces from 2018 are you most proud of?
To be honest, each of them is very different. The RM 53- 01 launched at the SIHH fair innovated with its light construction and shatterproof laminated glass. The RM 1103 Mclaren Chronograph from the Geneva Motor Show introduced a specific limited- edition watch developed with our partner Mclaren and its design team. We also launched our first in- house Automatic Tourbillon movement in the form of the RM 71- 01 Talisman, and finally the RM 25- 01 Tourbillon Adventure with Sylvester Stallone. Each model required specific developments and is very different in character yet all share the passion found within Richard Mille.
What have been your other highlights over the past year?
The ongoing relationships with all our brand partners, who we are also fortunate to call our friends. Many are now part of the brand for many years, like Felipe Massa and Rafael Nadal, and it is a real pleasure to work with all of them. This year new partners joined us such as Nafissatou Thiam and Yuliya Levchenko, both highly competitive in athletics yet very warm and humble human beings.
Which timepiece have you worn most this year and what makes it so special? The RM 67- 01 Automatic Extra- Flat, launched over three years ago. I find it extremely comfortable yet very chic and discreet, especially in titanium. It is a watch that is perfect to wear during the week and also on weekends.
Will there be any specific releases aimed at the youth market for 2019? We are a young brand that also has a very young following. For example nearly 50 percent of our followers on Instagram are aged between 18 and 35 years old. We relish the challenge of launching new models with exciting materials and many young clients love all our innovations in modern materials, such as with our partner NTPT with their carbon and quartz variations.
What do you expect to be your largest markets in 2019?
We don’t have a largest market. We have an even split where a third is the Americas, a third the EMEA region, a third Asia and 10 percent Japan.
How big an impact are technological changes having on your business? Technology is a core part of what goes on at Richard Mille. We have a development team at the factory of over 15 people. We are driven by technology, being a brand that has always innovated and never looked to the past for inspiration. It is interesting to see that we share exactly the same values with our partner Mclaren, seeking to always innovate while staying true to our values.
How important will Hong Kong and China be for the brand in the coming years?
Both are very important. For many years we have had two dedicated boutiques in Hong Kong that are performing extremely well. In China we have a flagship store in the heart of Shanghai and are currently building a boutique in Beijing that will open soon.
Who has been your personal greatest influence in the watchmaking world, and why?
You might find this too obvious as an answer, but it’s Richard Mille, who I have had the privilege to work for over the past nine years. Every day has been exciting and full of new challenges and yet the passion is so present that it transcends through the company all the way to our customers.
What has been the biggest change in the watchmaking industry you have witnessed during your career?
The digital age and the younger generation who are changing the traditional way that watches were sold for many decades. Today clients are a great deal more sophisticated than before and much more sensitive to what brands are communicating.
In these economically challenging times, what is the most important thing the luxury watch industry can do to secure its future?
Adapt to the reality of the demand and understand who they are actually trying to target and sell to.