People (and the media) always raise their eyebrows when they spot a person who wears Richard Mille watches. While the designs are certainly eye-catching, it’s the price tag that truly captures the attention. Many Richard Mille watches fetch over a million dollars. The cheapest Richard Mille watch also sells for a whopping $60,000.
With a price tag like that, it’s no wonder that most of these watches are found adorning the wrists of Hollywood A-listers and business giants. If you’re curious about what makes Richard Mille watches expensive, read on to find out.
Richard Mille began his career in the watch world in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1999 that he established his own brand. After studying marketing in Besançon, Mille entered the industry by working for the French watchmaking company Finhor. He eventually took a managerial role in the watchmaking business after Matra bought Finhor in 1981.
Mille left Matra’s watchmaking operation ten years later after Seiko bought the brand. He then went on to partner with the jewelry firm Maubossin. Together, they helped create the firm’s luxury watch business.
After earning solid experience in handling luxury jewelry and chronographs, Mille left Maubossin and founded his own company, Richard Mille SA, in 1999. He opened his company alongside Swiss manufacturer Audemars Piguet.
Richard Mille released the brand’s first watch—the RM-001—in 2001. Richard Mille introduced the RM-001 as a ‘racing machine on the wrist’ (see photo above).
Mille developed the watch in collaboration with Audemars Piguet’s research and development arm, Renaud et Papi. The RM-001 Tourbillon quickly rose to prominence, especially because it was attached to a levered bridge of carbon nanofiber. This was rare at the time.
Another reason why the RM-001 watch gained popularity was its asking price, which was around $135,000. Additionally, there were only 17 units produced, which helped set a new standard in exclusivity in the 2000s.
For a long time, I wished to launch my own brand. I wanted to create a new business model, far removed from traditional marketing strategies, something totally original.My goal was to create a new, ultra-high-end luxury segment within the high-end watch business, and I was very eager to know what could come of it.– Richard Mille
For a long time, I wished to launch my own brand. I wanted to create a new business model, far removed from traditional marketing strategies, something totally original.
My goal was to create a new, ultra-high-end luxury segment within the high-end watch business, and I was very eager to know what could come of it.
– Richard Mille
Since releasing RM-001, Mille has had a number of notable collaborations, including those with Rafael Nadal (RM 27-02) and Michelle Yeoh (RM 51-01). Both watches are pictured below.
When it comes to Richard Mille watch prices, the word ‘expensive’ doesn’t seem to be enough to cover it. The most ‘affordable’ Richard Mille Watch is the RM-016 (pictured below). The watch sells for about $60,000 at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The majority of watches in the Richard Mille catalog sell for six figures. From there, watch prices easily go up to over $3 million.
Even in Switzerland, where many brands sell a range of impressive watches, Richard Mille prices are in the high-end. This is why many consider the brand to be under the ‘haute horlogerie’ realm, which in French means ‘high watchmaking’.
There are plenty of reasons why Richard Mille watch prices are expensive. While its many celebrity endorsements do contribute to its price, the cost really comes down to the core elements of these high-end watches.
Watches belonging to the Richard Mille collection are easily recognizable thanks to their idiosyncratic look. The watches are known to be bold and distinct. Many also describe Richard Mille watches as a cross between a futuristic timepiece and a Formula 1 race car.
In addition to their look, Richard Mille watches are also famous for having a tonneau-shaped case that contours the wrist. The watch casing is costly to produce as each of the three layers is curved to remove any flat surface. The layers are also fitted together in a way that prevents moisture and dust from entering the watch.
Richard Mille’s watches are incredibly durable as they use high-tech materials that no one else in the watch industry uses, even in the luxury watch market. These include carbon nanotubes, silicon nitride, grade five titanium, carbon-infused gold, and toughened ceramic – materials that are often found in Formula 1 cars, the aerospace industries, and racing yachts.
The materials are not only found in the construction of the case but also in the moving parts. The baseplates and coatings also receive the same treatment, making the watch extremely durable and resilient.
Despite the materials used to create the watches, these luxury timepieces are extremely lightweight and ergonomic.
Most of the work needed to create a Richard Mille watch is done by hand. As such, only a limited number of watches are made per year. This helps keep Richard Mille an exclusive brand.
Apart from the limited supply, Richard Mille also produces many limited edition models. This is why Richard Mille watch prices remain strong in the secondary market, auction, and even in the pre-owned market.
With its prices, it’s no surprise why only the most elite members of society own a piece. It has become THE ultimate expression of wealth, so much so that people who wear Richard Mille watches are said to have the ‘Billionaire’s Handshake’.
Richard Mille’s eye-popping price tag is also justified by its many illustrious ambassadors, the likes of which include Felipe Massa, Pharrell Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Jackie Chan.
Richard Mille has released many models throughout its 22 years of watchmaking. Here are some of the brand’s iconic pieces.
The RM 38-02 is the fourth watch in the collection bearing the name of American professional golfer Gerry Lester ‘Bubba’ Watson Jr. This model is a limited edition piece, with only 50 pieces ever produced.
Richard Mille Watch Price: $980,000
Erotic watches have a longstanding tradition in watchmaking. However, Richard Mille’s version is less graphic and more elegant. The RM-69 offers its wearers the opportunity to express their love and eroticism through a classic timepiece. The watch has a three-roller mechanism that displays random erotic phrases, including ‘I want to caress you madly’.
The RM-69 Erotic Tourbillon is limited to only 30 pieces.
Richard Mille Watch Price: $696,000
Introduced in 2019, the RM 52-05 honors Pharrell Williams’ fascination with space travel and love for Star Trek. His deep link to the cosmos is made evident through the exquisitely detailed design inspired by Mars.
Only 30 pieces of RM 52-05 were produced worldwide.
Richard Mille Watch Price: $969,000
Created in partnership with Cécile Guenat, the RM 71-01 is a collection featuring 10 distinct designs featuring horological excellence. Each design weaves together the technicity expected of Richard Mille watches and elevates it using fine jewelry and rose gold centerpieces.
Each of the watch’s 10 versions is limited to only 5 pieces.
Richard Mille Watch Price: $425,000
The RM 11-04 features a dedicated dial for tracking half-time, extra time, and overtime, giving users complete mastery of time. This mechanical watch also features an ingenious display and the brand’s latest style codes in its variable-geometry rotor and ultra-sporty case.
Richard Mille Watch Price: $189,500
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