Leading the Pack
Richard Mille roars into pole position with its sustained support for the prestigious Le Mans Classic motorsport extravaganza,
The smell of burnt rubber wafts through the air, the mood is competitive and the concentration intense. For those who have visited the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, the French hallowed grounds of motorsport, racing is more than just a competition, it is a religion. And Richard Mille, founder of the eponymous watch brand, is happy to be part of this “religious procession”. His obsession with cars is well-documented and his appetite for speed insatiable. This explains why the Swiss manufacture has been the official partner of the Le Mans Classic since the inaugural race in 2002. The Le Mans Classic is a biennial vintage sports car event held in July at the Circuit de la Sarthe, which also holds the legendary endurance race, 24 Hours of Le Mans. What makes the series special is that it only allows cars that meet certain requirements to compete. The cars must have participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1923 and 1981, and they are categorised according to six different eras.
Also, the drivers must own a Fédération Internationale de l’automobile (FIA) international competition licence, which certifies drivers at a professional level. To spice things up, the race organisers, Peter Auto and the Automobile Club de l’ouest, have added new categories to the event. Group C, which only comprises Le Mans racing cars from 1982 to 1993, was added during the last edition in 2016, while this year’s race saw the introduction of the Global Endurance Legends grid that sees the Grand Tourer 1s and Le Mans Prototype 1s
For those who have visited the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, the French hallowed grounds of motorsport, racing is more than just a competition, it is a religion
from the 1990s and 2000s competing. The latest format now sees a whole host of rides (manufactured until 2016) that have prior Le Mans experience going full throttle on the 13km-long circuit. Flagging off the ninth edition of the Le Mans Classic were two household names in motorsport: Formula One legend Felipe Massa and famed rally driver Sébastien Loeb, both Richard Mille ambassadors. Joining them at the racing extravaganza were Richard Mille himself; former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, who flagged off the Little Big Mans, the race for children from seven to 12 years old; and Mike Flewitt, CEO of Mclaren Automotive, whose 570S Sports Series and 720S Super Series thrilled spectators on the tracks. As per tradition, Richard Mille introduced a sporty ticker to commemorate the Le Mans Classic. Only 150 pieces of the sporty and highly masculine RM 11-03 Le Mans Classic, which features a flyback chronograph capable of timing laps, will produced worldwide. To add to its motorsport flavour, the watch sports accents of the legendary British racing green on the crown, the rims of the subdials and on the tachymetric scale. This year also saw the brand launch another interesting project at Le Mans:
Richard Mille collaborated with famed photo agency DPPI and publisher Editions Cercle d’art to produce a book titled Car Racing 1965. The tome featured impressive photos of the Le Mans circuit that have never been published before. An exhibition showcase at the racing village gave attendees a chance to relive the history of the Sarthe track and immerse themselves further in the exhilarating atmosphere. Richard Mille’s tight-knit association with fast cars and motor races is proving to be beneficial for both branding and product development. Not only is the brand
speaking to the right audience at the races, it gets to extract design inspiration from the cars and the motorsport world to create its watches. It seems like a win-win situation for Richard Mille and chances of it overtaking the rest of the competition to snatch the chequered flag looks like a done deal.
PEDIGREE TIME The case of the Richard Mille RM 11-03 Le Mans Classic is made of ATZ white ceramic, an oxide alloy that boasts immense strength, while its calibre RMAC3 movement is crafted from grade 5 titanium with different finishings on the various components
PETROLHEADS UNITED The Le Mans Classic provides Richard Mille the perfect platform to propagate its brand message to a group of well-heeled and affluent men, who share the brand’s passion for speed