There are three reasons why endurance racing fans following the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scheduled September 19th and 20th, should keep an eye out for the Richard Mille Racing Team. Firstly because it has every chance of taking a spot on the podium. Secondly, this is the first time Richard Mille has fielded a team. Thirdly, it’s an all-female line-up. British driver Katherine Legge, Colombian driver Tatiana Calderón and German driver Sophia Floersch will compete in the 2020 and 2021 European Le Mans Series seasons in the LMP2 class, which is reserved for privateer teams. “It’s a fabulous adventure for us all,” says Amanda Mille, Clientele Marketing Director at Richard Mille. “Everyone knows the brand has a keen interest in motor sports, not least as partner to a number of teams and drivers. But we’re talking here about the first ever Richard Mille team. It took us a long time to bring the team together. Women are still finding it hard to break into motor sport, despite having all the right aptitudes to be serious competitors in endurance racing.”
The Richard Mille Racing Team is symbolic of the importance afforded to women by a brand that promises to put “a racing machine on the wrist”. From concept to production, a Richard Mille watch is a hotbed of advanced technology and innovation; one that’s fine-tuned for performance, endurance and precision, no matter how tough or how demanding the situation. The image that springs to mind is overwhelmingly a clientele of guys that live hard and play hard, when in fact women are increasingly drawn to the brand, to the point they now make up one third of its customers. “Women have found their place within the brand,” Amanda Mille affirms. “No doubt because we don’t play up to the idea that all women want is ‘something pretty’. Richard Mille’s women’s watches aren’t an afterthought. They provide the same level of technical complexity and innovation as our models for men. When we designed and developed our first in-house automatic tourbillon, we put it into a women’s watch, the RM 71-01 Talisman in 2018. We’ve always taken our time to do things, including develop collections for women who’ve made a grand entrance into the world of Richard Mille.”
Welcome to the family
Established in 2001, the brand released its first women’s watch, the RM 007 Automatic, in 2005. That the choice of women’s watches has grown considerably in recent years may well have something to do with the arrival, at key positions, of the two co-founders’ daughters, namely Amanda Mille at the head of client relations and Cécile Guenat as creative director. “Don’t go thinking women are taking over the brand,” laughs Amanda Mille. “It just happened that way, and of course we’re delighted that it did, but it does show how we are looking to serve both women and men, and the harmony this brings.” This harmony now goes beyond unique designs rolled out as different versions boasting innovations such as gem-set carbon, sapphire and ceramic. Entire collections have taken shape, starting with the Talisman range with ten structurally different dials inspired by tribal arts. This was followed, a year later, by Bonbon, a hugely original collection of candy-themed watches whose dials come alive with miniature lollipops, candy canes, liquorice and marshmallows, in fabulous coloured cases made from high-tech Carbon TPT® and Quartz TPT®.
Meanwhile, the number of women in the Richard Mille “family” has grown, true to the brand’s insistence that the watches it produces should be put through their paces by the athletes that will ultimately wear them. Olympic champion heptathlete Nafi Thiam, European junior champion heptathlete María Vicente, golfer Nelly Korda and skier Ester Ledecká are the latest members to join a line-up that already includes Aurora Straus, the only professional female racing driver in the US, dressage rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, and golfers Diana Luna and Cristie Kerr. Not forgetting Michelle Yeoh and Margot Robbie for red-carpet glamour. “We don’t set out with a particular person in mind,” insists Amanda Mille. “We get to meet people or they are introduced to us by our partners and friends, and this is how connections are forged. We actually prefer to talk about “lifetime partners”, as we are there for them at both the high points and low points in their career. Women’s watches came later to the brand in the same way that women joined the Richard Mille family later. Perhaps because they have to work harder in order to get to the top of their sport. This is why we are especially proud of the team that’s by our side.” A “racing machine on the wrist”, of course!