Most of the brands dominating the high-end luxury watch market have been around for at least a century. There’s one brand that stands out as young, ambitious, and totally different. This independent luxury watch manufacturer has received a lot of attention despite its relative newness, in large part thanks to its fearless approach to watch design. Today, we’re talking about Richard Mille watches, of course.
The watch community’s opinion on Richard Mille is generally divided into two camps: those who admire its unique designs and technical innovations and those who find its watches obnoxious, overpriced, or both. When a brand is so polarizing, we definitely pay attention.
So, what’s the truth behind Richard Mille watches? Should you keep your eye out for them, or are they just overpriced timepieces with flashy designs and no substance? If you want to know what we think, keep reading.
Richard Mille History and Background
Richard Mille is a Swiss manufacturer of luxury watches based in Les Breuleux, Switzerland. It was founded in 2001 by Richard Mille and Dominique Guenat, together with world-famous luxury watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet.
Richard Mille and Dominique Guenat came together because of their shared interests in motorsports, sailing, and aviation. They wanted to combine elements from their passions into a brand new watch brand, with top-notch materials and precision. Thus, the first Richard Mille watch, the RM 001, was born after two years of development.
The watch took the world by a storm when it first appeared in Baselworld 2001. It had a unique case shape that revealed the watch movement - a Richard Mille tourbillon movement with a power and a torque indicator. The watch was a huge success and kickstarted Richard Mille’s rise to the top of the watch world.
Why is Richard Mille So Highly Regarded?
As we mentioned before, there are both lovers and haters of Richard Mille watches. But, the general consensus is that Richard Mille’s achievements are remarkable considering the brand’s age. Several factors played their part in the brand’s success, which, when combined, make it one of the most highly regarded Swiss luxury watch manufacturers.
Richard Mille wanted his watches to be bold and draw everyone’s attention, with designs as striking and unusual as possible. That’s why RM watches are easily recognizable, even from afar. The most notable are the watch movements, which are almost entirely visible in almost every Richard Mille timepiece. Another notable part of the design is the tonneau-shaped case and spline screws.
These particular design cues are heavily inspired by automotives - wearing a Richard Mille wash is almost like having a sports car around your wrist.
Along with unique design choices, Richard Mille has always produced watches with top-of-the-line technical specifications. The brand’s movements are some of the best in the market, with one of them featuring a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour.
The materials on a Richard Mille watch are extremely light, with some of them weighing less than 30 grams. They are also extraordinarily durable, evident by the fact that the RM 006 survived Felipe Massa’s crash in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix without damage.
The distinctive look and high-end specifications are part of the reason for the high Richard Mille watch prices. However, the most significant contributing factor behidn the brand’s pricing is deliberate scarcity.
Most sources say that Richard Mille only produces around 5,000 watches per year. For reference, Patek Philippe, which is still considered a highly exclusive brand, has an annual production of about 60,000 watches. Thus, it’s no surprise that some Richard Mille watches fetch such a high price in the second-hand market and at auction.
Are Richard Mille Watches a Good Investment?
All the reasons mentioned above point to Richard Mille being an excellent watch brand to invest in. Despite being young, with very little heritage, Richard Mille watches have gathered a lot of hype and have become very desirable timepieces. Some of that hype comes from their daring yet intriguing design, as well their exquisite materials and durability.
Additionally, since the brand’s overall production is low, the annual output for each model comes out to only a few hundred pieces each. Not to mention the fact that the brand frequently releases limited-edition watch collaborations. This makes them appreciate greatly in value, which is every investor’s dream.
What’s the Most Expensive Richard Mille Watch?
There’s no beating around the bush. Richard Mille watches are expensive. The first-ever watch sold by the brand had a six-figure price tag. Most Richard Mille watches demand six figures; however, some are even more expensive. Currently, the most expensive Richard Mille watch is the RM 056-02, which costs around 2 million dollars!
The RM 056-02 boasts an impressive set of specifications. It’s the first watch to have a see-through case made entirely of sapphire. It also features a high-end Richard Mille tourbillon movement with a split-seconds chronograph function. To add to its value, it’s a very limited timepiece with only ten pieces ever made.
What’s the Cheapest Richard Mille?
While the price of the RM 056-02 might seem daunting, you don’t really have to spend that much money to enjoy a Richard Mille watch. There are some more affordable options for those who want a taste of Richard Mille but don't have millions to spend. A good example is the RM 016, which is currently the cheapest Richard Mille watch with a list price of $60,000.
While not as flashy as some other Richard Mille watches, the RM 016 still features a high-end automatic movement as well as very durable construction. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find it at retail price. However, it still remains an affordable way to enter the world of Richard Mille.
Richard Mille Watches Every Watch Lover Should Know
Here are some very unique timepieces from Richard Mille that you should keep an eye out for:
RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph
Richard Mille enjoys a deep connection to the world of motorsports, as evidenced by its 10-year partnership with McLaren, signed in 2017. To celebrate their partnership, Richard Mille created 500 pieces of the RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph to pair with the 500 pieces of the McLaren Senna.
McLaren’s sports car is clearly the main inspiration for the watch's design, and the case back is numbered to match the number on each individual’s McLaren Senna. Like any Richard Mille watch, it features high-end specifications and a unique flyback chronograph complication. This allows the user to reset the timer without having to stop the chronograph.
If you find this connection between cars and watches intriguing, you might be interested in car watches from a few other brands.
RM 055 Bubba Watson
The RM 055 is a collaboration between Richard Mille and famous golf player Bubba Watson. The RM 038, a previous Bubba Watson timepiece, serves as the predecessor to the RM 055 watch. It’s powered by a Richard Mille tourbillon movement constructed of grade 5 titanium with heavy skeletonization.
What makes this timepiece stand out is its white ceramic case, which is one of the rarest options from Richard Mille. That’s why its value has appreciated significantly since its release. It’s also one of the best watches to invest in in 2022, according to famous watch enthusiast and trader Pejman Ghadimi.
RM 027-02 Rafael Nadal
Since 2010, Richard Mille has enjoyed a long-lasting partnership with world-famous tennis player Rafael Nadal. The brand has released several models in the Rafael Nadal collection. Arguably, the most iconic watch of the bunch is the RM 027-02. A manually-wound tourbillon movement keeps the watch running, and the model was limited to 50 pieces.
The striking feature of this watch, though, is its extremely low weight. In fact, it is the most lightweight tourbillon watch ever made, with a weight of just 18.83 grams, including the strap! That seems pretty neat for a tennis player who wants to avoid any distractions like a heavy watch on his wrist.
The New Kid On The Block
Richard Mille is the new kid on the block in a world of established watch brands. It receives a lot of hate for trying to shake up the status quo, and we think none of it is justified.
Richard Mille constantly strives to produce the best watches, not just in terms of design but also in terms of durability and accuracy, which are the two most important features in a watch. Just like Richard Mille, we at Operandi Firenze always want to produce the most durable and reliable watch rolls to keep your high-end timepieces secure.
Our watch rolls are made of premium Italian leather and go through rigorous testing to ensure they will safely protect your watch. Consider picking up one of our premium watch rolls to accompany your Richard Mille watch, or any other luxury timepieces.
So, go out there, get a taste of what Richard Mille has to offer, and don’t forget to keep an eye on the time!