Tatler Singapore



The brand director of Richard Mille, Alexandre Mille faces the toughest of horologica­l prospects: following in his illustriou­s father’s footsteps. He talks to Tatler about how he’s making his mark on the business, why it’s hard to increase production, and why the brand doesn’t have ambassador­s

What is the biggest strength you bring to the business?

That I was never raised and educated to become what I am today. That may not be a strength for other brands, but for Richard Mille, it’s different. The first time I [started working in] the luxury world, I was 27 years old. I [had been] to law school, and [then] to cinema school to graduate as a film director. But in those [subjects], I was taught to analyse everything and understand it [from an artistic point of view]: how to analyse text in a movie and translate that into emotion. When you’re a brand director, how can you take your inspiratio­n, an emotion, and translate it into a watch that will be understood by everybody?

When I entered the watchmakin­g industry, I realised

that was exactly what my dad was doing. He had all the inspiratio­n in the world, but he translated it with the use of material, shape and components.

What is a common mistake made in the watchmakin­g business?

My mum brought up me and my siblings to be fulfilled emotionall­y and to be nice with people: to always be respectful. In business, there’s a real lack of that. One of my dad’s successes is that he’s always been very respectful and that opened a lot of doors for him to explore [new ideas] to create different watches.

What is the biggest challenge Richard Mille faces today?

The main challenge is a lack of stock due to very low production. The number of watches we have produced since we launched 22 years ago is lower than the number of watches some brands produce in a year. The recognitio­n of the brand is growing every year, but the production is not following that trend, sadly. If there’s one thing we don’t want to mess with, it is the quality of the product. But this is a good problem to have; we are not complainin­g. We also don’t want to give off the feeling that we are doing this on purpose. We are doing our best to optimise production.

Richard Mille doesn’t really have brand ambassador­s. What’s the strategy behind that?

We don’t want to [have brand ambassador­s; instead we] enter partnershi­ps and friendship­s. When I say friendship­s, it means that, more often than not, there are no contracts with these people. So there’s never a marketing aspect in our minds. Sometimes we meet [an artist or athlete] and decide to work together. Most of the time we try to have athletes who wear our watches and help to develop them. The idea is to make the watches suffer a bit; to push the boundaries in terms of watch developmen­t.

I will give you an example: my sister [and I] met Arnaud Jerald, a [world champion] freediver, and really loved him. We put a watch on his wrist so that he could go diving with it and, trust me, we learnt a lot about our own watches. It’s one thing when you test in a lab and another when you do it on a ship. That’s the biggest strength of our friendship­s; we bring our watches to the battlefiel­d and learn from it.

What book do you like to recommend to watch lovers?

One of my favourite books is

Le Matin des Magiciens [by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier]. I love it because it is part research and part fiction. [The book challenges readers’ viewpoints on historic events.] So it goes back in time to explain things that people [once] called witchcraft. And if there is something I would recommend in general, it is to read every single book from [French comic book artist and writer] Moebius. He is my favourite artist in the world.

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