How a luxury watch brand builds high-end watches designed to take a beating in high stake sporting arenas.
Rafael Nadal has broken several Richard Mille watches – and that’s exactly what the high-end brand’s founder wanted. When the tennis star began collaborating with the brand nine years ago, he was asked to wear prototypes of the RM 27 tourbillon watch while training. Several watches were damaged in the process – unsurprising to those familiar with Nadal’s quick and aggressive style. But for Mille, such extreme real-life testing offers the perfect opportunity to strengthen the brand’s high performance watches and make them uniquely suited to various sports.
This is no common occurrence. Whether it’s the added weight of a timepiece on the wrist, or the fact that luxury watches are usually worn with care rather than bashed around in a sporting arena, many athletes with watch sponsors strap on their time pieces only after the hard work is done.
Which is why Richard Mille’s sports partnerships tend to get plenty of ink: Whether they are tennis pros or track-and-field stars, the brand’s ambassadors must wear their watches while engaged in their sport of choice.
And we must say, seeing Nadal execute powerful strokes or taking spills on the court while sporting a wristwatch with a six-digit price tag and equipped with a tourbillon – a typically fragile high-horology mechanism – is a pretty powerful marketing exercise.
Here, we delve into some of Richard Mille’s most notable high performance time pieces, and how they have been built to stand up to the stresses of specific sports.
01 WINNING LOOK
Rafael Nadal wearing the RM 27-03, while en route to winning his 10th French Open title in June.
02 BUILT FOR SPEED
Wearing the RM 67-02, South African sprinter Way de Van Nie kerk celebrates winning the 400m sprint at the IAAF championships in August.