< CEO SPEAK >
Richard Mille, President and CEO of the brand, shares his vision of watchmaking with Mitrajit Bhattacharya
Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver says he draws inspiration from Richard Mille, because he feels you are the only one who thinks of watchmaking from an outsider’s perspective.
I appreciate that. Jean-Claude is a very dear friend and a fantastic marketing man.
How do you perceive watchmaking?
I feel ultra luxury or high-end watchmaking must be open to the world and its different influences, otherwise it might become extremely boring. At the end of the day, a quartz watch that’s worth $10 performs equally well. So, we must consider ourselves as people working with an artistic dimension, irrespective of the technique used.
You launch new calibres every year. This year too you have launched six new calibres. Do you think a new movement is necessary for a new concept or a product?
For me, a concept goes with the calibre. So I adapt the calibre to the function, like in the case of the Polo watch. It’s a totally new calibre. I like this idea of having a huge development with huge constraints and at the end very little volume.If I was interested in big volumes, I wouldn’t do what I am doing, because I will be totally obsessed with the price.
Are your prices completely justified?
My prices are absolutely justified. Every time I have an option, I take the best one and the cost comes with it. We spend thousands and thousands of hours on research and development. Each piece needs more than 2,000 hours. Of course, it cannot come cheap.
How would you profile a Richard Mille customer?
The Richard Mille customer is somebody who is extremely sophisticated and has overcome all ideas of social recognition. I love my clients because they are like me. Many days I am in Bermudas. My clients are in shorts too, because we are boys sharing the same passion. Mine is a cutting-edge product. It’s revolutionary.
Are you saying that your brand is an extension of your personality?
I launched my brand because I wanted my philosophy of life attuned to my philosophy of business. To me it corresponds perfectly to the vision of high luxury because today what people call luxury is just mass luxury. Fortunately, my clients love what I do.
Does Richard Mille need innovative marketing to sell its watches?
No. I always say I am at war with the marketing guys. I was the first to launch really light watches. I was fed up of hearing marketing people say, “Oh, it’s too light.” My approach is very genuine. When I work with sportsmen, my only condition is that they must wear the watch while indulging in their sports.
Like Rafael Nadal?
Like Nadal, like Felipe Massa, who is the only Formula One driver racing with a watch.
What about Bubba Watson?
Bubba Watson plays golf wearing our watch. Pablo MacDonough plays polo wearing our watch. The normal approach in marketing is to use the watch while posing for the picture. For me, wearing of the watch is compulsory at all times.
Can you name a few watches over the past 50 years which have changed the way watchmaking has evolved?
The Cartier Tank is an icon. For me, it’s a watch with perfect volume. The second is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, which is just fantastic.