Lux­ury reaLm

Plaza Watch International - - The Rolex Pres­i­dent - WORDS LAURA COL­LA­COTT

six dif­fer­ent price seg­ments: masstige, univer­sal lux­ury, luxe, pres­tige her­itage, in­de­pen­dent and uber lux­ury. Masstige (mass and pres­tige) in­cludes brands such as Hamil­ton and TAG Heuer, with av­er­age prices be­tween 1,000 and 3,000 Swiss francs. Univer­sal lux­ury cov­ers brands like Rolex, Omega and Cartier; Luxe is a step up again in­cor­po­rat­ing names like Hublot and Co­rum. Pres­tige her­itage is the la­bel given to ar­ti­san com­pa­nies such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Con­stantin and Ur­w­erk and MB&F’s kooky de­signs fall un­der the in­de­pen­dent seg­ment.

Then – then – you have the ‘uber lux­ury’ bracket with prices up­wards of 120,000 Swiss francs. Richard Mille sits com­fort­ably here. Re­as­sur­ingly ex­pen­sive, as the Stella Ar­tois mar­ket­ing ma­chine would have it.

be­come a sym­bol of the elite. Each of the 60 or so mod­els – all limited runs with Richard Mille closely in­volved in the de­sign – are in­stantly recog­nis­able. Some­times too much so, as Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov dis­cov­ered when flash­ing his RM 52-01 at his wed­ding this summer.

But what lies be­hind the price tag? What sets Richard Mille watches a cut above the rest? Plaza Watch was in­vited to the bou­tique fac­tory – which is too in­suf­fi­cient a word to de­scribe the gleam­ing, un­ruf­fled, small-scale ar­ti­san work­shop I was to dis­cover – in Switzer­land to peek be­hind the curtain.

The brand is for­mally head­quar­tered in Paris, but it is the small and tran­quil vil­lage of Les Breuleux in the dis­trict of Jura where Mille won­ders are forged by a gen­er­a­tion’s worth of Swiss time­smiths. Bre­itling, Co­rum, Gi­rard-Per­re­gaux, Rolex, Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer and Tis­sot form some of the Richard Mille neigh­bour­hood. Watch Val­ley, as it’s known, is a clus­ter of sim­i­lar vil­lages in

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