Richard Mille are known for creating curvaceous, tonneau-shaped wristwatches with unbelievable exposed and minimalistic movements; when seen in the flesh, you’ll feel as though you are peering into a highly tuned racing car engine. Now, if you were not aware, a large number of Richard Mille’s timepieces are developed in partnership with none other than Audemars Piguet’s Renaud et Papi division. They are created to Richard Mille’s specifications, which combine the highest levels of watchmaking and traditional finishing to result in some truly breathtaking timepieces.
While Richard Mille does seek to create outstanding watches, they are by no means created for the sake of being just high-end luxury wrist candy. The brand’s development of watches that are built around modular constructions, featuring built-in shock absorption, means that their timepieces are made to be worn in extreme conditions whenever, and wherever possible.
We’ve made car and watch comparisons before, and here we will do it again. Lamborghini has long been a household name. Automobili Lamborghini was founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini in an attempt to compete with the well-established car manufacturer Ferrari. Ferruccio was a lover of Ferrari’s cars and spent considerable amounts of money on them, but he believed he could build a more attractive, flamboyant car with a more aggressive sound. Of course, he wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but simply make it better and more attractive, a notion also shared by Richard Mille.
Unlike Ferrari, Lamborghini are not known for their racing pedigree, but they have been known to dabble in F1, supplying teams with their infamous V12 during the 1989 and 1993 seasons. However, this wasn’t something Lamborghini set out to create; they set out to ultimately produce powerful, brutish, elegant cars that had racing pedigree, but were solely intended for the road.
Most watch brands advise you against wearing your mechanical wristwatch while playing sports, due to the potential for heavy shock, and imagine if your wristwatch also had a tourbillon? This is not the case with Richard Mille. We’ve seen these watches on the wrists of Rafael Nadal and Bubba Watson, both of whom have played in world-class tennis and golf tournaments, respectively. Felipe Massa was wearing an RM 006 when he slammed into a protective tire barrier at 120 mph while qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. He suffered severe head injuries and almost died, however, his watch was unscathed.
Richard Mille likewise designed their timepieces to look rather brutish and unapologetic. The brand exposed the timepieces’ inner movements, giving the watches a raw look and feel, again, not too dissimilar from Lamborghini. Richard Mille’s wristwatches combine the highest level of watchmaking and traditional hand decoration, with groundbreaking use of new materials and flamboyant designs. They offer breathtaking style and the highest level of substance – and this is what Lamborghini have been doing for many years, too. The cars they’ve produced over the years, such as the Miura, Countach, Murcielago and Aventador, were also groundbreaking in their use of materials and their very outspoken designs.
As a result of these designs, Richard Mille have changed the mindset that luxury watches must be heavy, introducing the concept of luxury “lightness.” This is similar to the design philosophies used in racing cars. Of course, their focus on using lightness to improve shock resistance and timekeeping inherently makes Richard Mille’s timepieces handsomely priced – a similar story when you look at the price of a Lamborghini. It goes without saying that both of these items were created for the rich and famous. Coincidentally, many luxury good connoisseurs, including oligarchs, Hollywood celebrities, and Middle Eastern billionaires, choose to use both of these brands at the same time.
Putting price, and perhaps some ostentatiousness, aside, there is no doubt that these two brands, well-known around the world, have defined and instilled the meaning of flamboyant luxury in their respective fields. Furthermore, it is because of the philosophies they stand by that they are both still so sought-after today. That being said, there are certainly other comparisons you could throw into the mix, but I think it’s fair to say these two brands have created their own niche and continue to excel in it.