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Richard Mille History

1974
Richard Mille begins work at a Besancon-based watchmaking company called Finhor.

1981
French aeronautics, automobile, and weaponry outfit Matra buys Finhor, and Richard Mille is asked to manage the watchmaking arm of the business.

1992
Richard Mille leaves Matra, and is employed by Mauboussin, a French jewellery company, to create a line of luxury watches.

1999
Richard Mille founds his own luxury watchmaking firm, Richard Mille SA.

2001
RM001, Richard Mille’s first luxury watch, is released. The timepiece has a tourbillon and features a radical new imagining of a classical tonneau case design. It clearly sets out Richard Mille’s mission—to create luxury watches that completely realise their function with every element of their form.

The brand will go on to design some of the world’s most expensive, inrnovative and novel watches, utilising materials never before seen in the creation of timepieces. Some, it will import from the worlds of aeronautics and automobile design, a callback to Richard Mille’s Matra days and a homage to his obsession with Formula One. Others, it will invent.

RM002 is also released in 2001. This luxury watch is the first in history to have a movement baseplate crafted from titanium.

2002
RM003 is released—a tourbillon luxury watch featuring dual time zones.

2003
Richard Mille debuts RM008—a tourbillon with split seconds chronograph. RM008 is the first novel split-seconds chrono design to appear in the 21st century. It will remain one of the most complicated watches in the Richard Mille collection.

2004
RM006 is released. This luxury watch, which is built on a carbon nanofiber baseplate, is the world’s lightest-ever mechanical tourbillon, weighing a mere 48 grams without the strap. It also bears the name of Felipe Massa, Richard Mille’s first ambassador. The Brazilian racing driver joins the Richard Mille family in 2004, and wears a Richard Mille piece in every subsequent F1 Grand Prix.

2005
The first Richard Mille ladies’ watch, the Richard Mille RM07, is launched. RM07 is an automatic movement, in which the bidirectional rotor is filled with microballs to make winding more efficient. In the same year, Richard Mille rises to a challenge posed him by Felipe Massa: can you make an even lighter tourbillon than the RM06? The answer is yes. The RM09 Felipe Massa Tourbillon is born, and it destroys the record for lightest tourbillon ever. With a movement made from aluminium-lithium and a case constructed from ALUSIC (a material used to make satellites), RM09 is just 29 grams without the strap on.

2006
Richard Mille launches a partnership with yacht manufacturer Perini Navi, and unveils a new research and development partner—Roberto Mancini.

2007
Richard Mille wins the Golden Hand at the Grand Prix de l’Haute Horlogerie. The luxury watch that gets him the prize: the RM012 Tourbillon. The skeletonised movement of this piece is crafted from tiny Phynox rods (Phynox is an alloy of cobalt, chromium, and nickel, which is extremely strong and responds well to mechanical use).

The Richard Mille RM011 is released. This luxury watch is the brand’s ‘breakout’ timepiece, putting Richard Mille at the forefront of daring timepiece design. RM011 contains everything for which Richard Mille will become famous: a chassis built to display a fully-skeletonised movement in glorious 3D, an ambitious complication, and a superb luxe-sport feel.

2008
The first Richard Mille pocket watch, RM020, is born. This instant classic is an ultra-modern reinterpretation of pieces from watchmaking’s golden age: a skeletonised, double-barrel-driven tourbillon calibre housed in an unmistakably ‘Richard Mille’ pocket case. The chain alone, when the clasp, crown cover, and stand are included in the equation, is composed of 189 individual parts and requires 580 finishing and testing operations before it is complete.

In the same year, Richard Mille releases RM018, Tourbillon ‘Homage a Boucheron’. Boucheron is a legendary French jeweller, founded by Frederic Boucheron in 1858. Its special skill: setting precious stones. RM018 pays extraordinary homage to this tradition by cutting the working elements of the movement from semi-precious stones. Each of the 30 limited-edition pieces has its own arrangement of stones, making the watch one of Richard Mille’s most beautiful and desired achievements.

2010
The brand’s most iconic partnership is formed. Richard Mille begins to make luxury watches for tennis star Rafael Nadal. To celebrate the partnership, Richard Mille smashes his own record for ultra-lightweight tourbillons, creating the RM027 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon. The watch weighs a minute 18 grams, and is worn by Nadal during matches at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

2011
Richard Mille unveils another partnership, this time with US golfer Bubba Watson. RM038 is designed specifically for Watson.

2012
The brand launches its most famous, expensive and daring luxury watch: RM056, a tourbillon named for Felipe Massa. The model is a masterpiece of engineering, featuring a case machined entirely from sapphire crystal. Released in a limited edition of 5 pieces, each one incorporating a case that takes 5 months to machine, RM056 retails for around $2m.

RM053 Pablo Mac Donough is also created in 2012. This exceptional luxury watch is designed, like many of Richard Mille’s pieces, to stand up to ultra-tough real-world testing—this time on the polo field. Its armoured titanium case, reminiscent of a driving watch, leaves two viewing windows available to the rider, each tilted at the end of a titanium tube. One shows running seconds and the tourbillon cage, the other shows hours and minutes. The RM053’s movement is extremely light and strong, thanks to extreme skeletonisation and a compact design.

2012 sees another first for Richard Mille: a flight watch. The Richard Mille RM039 Tourbillon Aviation E6-B Flyback Chronograph is an audacious attempt to create an all-in-one ‘flight instrument’. It’s a manually-wound movement with hours, minutes, seconds, date, a second hours and minutes dial at 9 o’clock, UTC function, countdown mode, a function selector, and a power reserve display. And that’s just the sum of its nearly 1,000 component parts. When you add the computational power conferred by the multiple scales and readouts on the dial and twin bezels, you get a luxury watch that is genuinely capable of performing almost any aeronautical operation. It even has an altitude density indicator.

2013
Richard Mille’s watch releases this year feature yet more new partnerships—this time with Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, and F1 and motoring legend Jean Todt. Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt’s training partner and the only runner Bolt admits to being afraid of, is nicknamed ‘The Beast’ for his intense training regime. As he runs, he wears a specially-designed Richard Mille luxury watch, the RM59-01. This timepiece is designed to minimise drag as Blake’s arms power backwards and forwards during a sprint. Knowing even the tiniest drag factor could mean the difference between first and second place, Richard Mille designs the RM59-01 with an asymmetrical case to cut through the air.

The Jean Todt model, RM036 Tourbillon G-Sensor Jean Todt, is another example of Richard Mille’s mechanical genius. It’s also a nod to an old friend (Jean Todt is the President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which promotes road safety and driver interests. Some call RM036 whimsy. Some call it audacity. But all recognise that the mechanical G-sensor incorporated into the movement is another mind-blowing world first from the luxury watch brand. This time, Richard Mille turns to motoring for inspiration, and develops a timepiece that can cope with decelerations of ‘several tens of Gs’. Profits from the sale of the limited-edition 15-piece titanium watch will go to Jean Todt’s ICM Brain and Spine Institute, as well as towards funding global awareness campaigns for road safety.

In the same year, RM27-01 Rafael Nadal takes centre stage. It’s another instalment in the ongoing collaboration between Richard Mille and the tennis player, and it weighs in at an astonishing 19 grams, strap included. The movement itself, which is suspended inside the case, hanging from four microscopically-thin steel braids, weighs only 3.5 grams. By hanging the movement from cables, Richard Mille gives this luxury watch the ability to withstand extreme accelerative force: up to 5,000 Gs before it even feels the pressure. Lightness is achieved by building the bezel, caseband and back bezel from carbon.

2014
Richard Mille RM35-01 Rafael Nadal is released. This outstanding calibre is once again designed to cope with the stresses and impacts to which it will be subjected during professional matchplay. The case is constructed from Richard Mille’s own NTPT carbon, a material originally used in the hulls of racing yachts, which is introduced to luxury watches for the first time by the Richard Mille brand.

Richard Mille also updates the G-force sensor calibre first seen in its Jean Todt model (RM036), this time presenting the movement in the RM36-01 Sebastien Loeb. The G-force sensor in this new model can be rotated to measure force from any angle the wearer desires, up to 6 Gs. The bezel and sapphire glass both rotate, and have elements of the movement attached to them—meaning that some elements of calibre RM036 are now mobile, while others remain attached to the baseplate. It’s a technical feat that some luxury watch manufacturers would spend all year advertising. But it’s just another day at the office for Richard Mille.

2015
The RM27-02 Rafael Nadal is unveiled during the Roland Garros Tournament. This beautiful reimagining of the first luxury watch designed for the tennis player updates the piece in key ways. It is the first ever watch to have a unibody design: building the whole thing from the base up, like a racing car, with a ‘chassis’ (caseband and baseplate) designed as a single element. RM27-02’s bezel and unibody caseback are in TPT quartz—a material developed by Richard Mille engineers. Constructed from alternate layers of silica and NTPT carbon, TPT quartz is light, strong, and beautiful. It’s also powerful, delivering 70 hours of regular running between manual windings. This long, reliable capacity is made possible by a barrel that rotates rapidly from first tension to last unwinding.

RM011 is released in a titanium bracelet edition—the first Richard Mille luxury watch ever to have a metal bracelet.

2016
Richard Mille creates another sporting sensation—this time by giving his personal RM-011 Felipe Massa to cyclist Mark Cavendish. That’s Richard Mille’s very own, limited-edition, ultra-rare version of this luxury watch. And he does it right there on the road at the Tour de France, hopping out of an official Tour de France backup car to ask Cavendish to wear the piece. Cavendish goes on to win Stage 6 of the Tour, wearing the watch, the next day. He will subsequently pull out of the Tour, needing to rest before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with four stage wins under his belt: making him the second-highest-ranking Tour de France rider ever. And probably the only one ever to cross the finish line with a luxury watch on his wrist.

The brand releases the RM011 Last Edition, ending this legendary luxury watch’s 9-year reign with a 50-piece limited-edition collector’s run in blue ceramic. It will be replaced later in the same year with RM11-03, a slick, updated evolution of the RM011 and a landmark in extreme skeletonisation.

For our wide range of pre-owned Richard Mille luxury watches as well as the rest of our unworn luxury watch collection, see here.

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