The origins of the brand
The watch industry had never seen anything like Richard Mille in 2001 – by which we mean the brand, with the RM 001 really shaking things up.
The man himself, however, had been around the watch industry for over thirty years. Having taken various managerial positions at different companies, he was someone who knew the ins-and-outs of the industry and the market intimately. However, horology wasn’t Mille’s first love. In fact, he waited five decades before starting his own brand. Prior to that, he was primarily obsessed with mechanics, more specifically motorcars and planes. It is said that he was so enamoured by sports cars that he bought his first one before he’d even received the money from his first paycheque.
It was a Renault Alpine, in case you were wondering. According to Theodore Diehl, one of the very first employees of the brand and now its official spokesperson, Mille would read the Concorde instruction manuals as his bedtime reading, purely for the enjoyment of learning how the supersonic plane flew. It was this deep passion for mechanical brilliance that drove Mille in his career, constantly on the search for how to push the norm in order to achieve the unprecedented.
While Mille will be the first to admit that he is not a watchmaker – such that if he was given a set of tweezers and a screwdriver, he wouldn’t know where to start – his understanding of how to design mechanical movements is incredible. Partnering with the complex movement manufacturer, Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi (APRP), his original sketches for the RM-001 were almost exactly what APRP ended up producing. The vision that Mille had in his head was so clear that he was able to translate it perfectly onto the page, and then push the engineering minds at APRP to manifest this idea into a physical timepiece. This is where Mille’s brilliance lies. Not in his ability to dream up unique watches, but to ensure that they are produced to his specifications, down to the smallest details.