You are here
Home > Luxury Watches > Visit To The Richard Mille Watch Manufacture

Visit To The Richard Mille Watch Manufacture


It might be a bold statement, but I love to consider the company Richard Mille as both jester and also the rocket researcher inside the imaginary arena of haute horlogerie. Since its launch in 2001, and particularly throughout the past few years, it’s not just dreamed large again and again, lowering a minimum of a few of the old-fashioned walls which older governors of proper watch making had built around themselves, but additionally had the know-how to assist individuals very bold ideas and realize them.

Most likely the very first logical question that springs in your thoughts upon an initial encounter using the brand may be the question of “why?” as with, why would anybody build their company around the fundaments of of course and consistently bold designs and concepts combined with luxury prices? Time provided the solution: since it works.

Page one within the success story from the luxury sports watch has perhaps been compiled by the Royal Oak of Audemars Piguet, showing the validity of the market segment. What Richard Mille did throughout the first 2000s is they required the idea of a higher-finish sports watch one step (or perhaps a mile?) further, realizing there still was room to develop, both when it comes to crazy designs in addition to crazy prices. And also be large Richard Mille did, as they’ve been growing by around 15-20 % annually, reaching a yearly manufacture of around 3,400 watches. With prices beginning at €40,000 (or around $54,000) for that very “least expensive” model within their collection, these figures indicate simply how much extra potential there is within this niche.



Understanding the – rather unlikely, although superbly functioning – reasoning behind the creation and running of the trademark, required should possibly be “how?” as with, just how can the they conceive, manufacture and possibly most significantly, just how can they offer such incredibly complicated (and frequently stratospherically listed) pieces so effectively? Using these questions about my thoughts, I set to go hands-up with probably the most crazy models of the trademark within their Geneva boutique and also to go to the situation making and movement putting together facilities of the trademark in L’ensemble des Breuleux.


I had been welcomed by Theodore Diehl from Richard Mille Watches and a few fellow journalists, along with Take advantage of Kitto who runs the Richard Mille boutique in the Hotel Kempinski, using its splendid take on Lake Geneva. It had been here which i got an opportunity to carefully inspect probably the most highly complicated pieces of the trademark, like the ultra-lightweight RM59-01 Yohan Blake tourbillon (hands-on here), the laughably heavy RM057 Jackie Chan “gold dragon tourbillon,” and a few other pieces, all crazy within the regular Richard Mille way. Dizzying prices aside, handling probably the most important and technologically impressive models of the trademark designed for an excellent start, as doing this helped me even more interested in wherever and just how these were made.



Given the objective of this short article, which would be to discuss the manufacturing of Mille’s watches, we actually cannot get into much detail of all of the in another way complicated pieces they provide. With nevertheless, if you think you’re not acquainted with the masterpieces of the trademark you might browse and browse all of the articles we’ve discussed these pieces on this link.



Without further ado, let us begin our manufacture visit or, quite simply, our journey behind the curtain at Richard Mille. Opposing certainly one of present day key marketing trends but using the practices of a lot of the industry, there’s nobody singular factory that develops Richard Mille watches from the to Z. Rather, the company works together with numerous providers and partners in exactly what is a complex system of co-procedures. Our article around the good reputation for ETA describes this historic constructing of the profession in greater detail, and for the time being, we’ll just state that since the 1700s, watch producers have labored with a lot of diverse providers for example situation makers, blank movement (also called ébauche) makers, dial artists, and many more. A direct consequence, one company has scarcely composed all manufacturing abilities concurrently.


Knowing that, we have to note we have seen a constantly-growing quantity of brands try and focus on getting most manufacturing processes “in-house,” and you will find two primary reasons for your. Mainly, these were forced to do this, as critical factors and base actions have grown to be a lot more scarcely available, both consequently of popular in addition to limited measures from major providers – again, all talked about within our ETA article. Next, as being a “manufacture” creates a powerful and far preferred advertising tool, frequently also permitting for any prices premium on watches outfitted with “manufacture calibers.”


It’s broadly conveyed – and therefore generally recognized – that complete vertical integration (i.e., creating all things in-house) surpasses other manufacturing techniques. In some instances, that’s really true, and we view that actually work out superbly for many brands. However, if this involves some truly high-finish watches with remarkable technological solutions, created in relatively limited runs, trading in getting specifically designed cases, movement parts, dials and anything else produced in-home is difficult. Rather, what many of these brands is going to do is figure with the best specialized providers in Europe.


These co-procedures produce a hub of providers, frequently held together by co-ownerships. If this involves Richard Mille and producing its cases, actions along with other components, the problem will get rather complicated and definitely necessitates some scarcely provided explanation. The important thing companies – that are, again, all connected by various co-ownerships – would be the following: Horometrie SA, Valgine, Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APR&P), in addition to ProArt and also the Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (which we visited this past year). Let us briefly discuss the different roles these partners play if this involves the conception and manufacture of a Richard Mille watch.

To start with, Horometrie SA may be the legal entity of Richard Mille and the organization accountable for the brand’s activities. So far as the conception of recent designs and concepts is worried, it’s Richard Mille and the group of designers and engineers in the brand that conceive new designs and concepts. Things have more complicated if this involves the realization of individuals concepts. A vital player for the reason that is Valgine SA, a 3rd party supplier and label watch company that actually works with a lot of different brands like a “quiet partner,” delivering parts or perhaps finished items, labeled using the customer brand’s title. Since who owns Valgine, Dominique Guenat, is another lengthy-time friend of Richard’s, it comes down as no real surprise that Valgine is a vital investor and supplier for that brand, a lot to ensure that the Valgine logo design is viewed at a number of places round the Richard Mille premises.

A smaller known truth is that another investor within the brand is Audemars Piguet, whose high-finish watch making division, known as Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APR&P) accounts for the realization of probably the most highly complicated actions of Richard Mille. However, Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier may be the supply of the brand’s simpler automatic and automatic chronograph actions, while ProArt (area of the Richard Mille Group) crafts all Richard Mille cases as well as movement baseplates, bridges along with other components. On the manufacture visit we first examined ProArt, this very new and certainly ultra high-finish production facility.

Opened up in April, 2013, Richard Mille produced ProArt upon losing its previous supplier of cases, as Donzé Baume was bought through the Richemont group, forcing the company to search for another source. Strategical moves similar to this takeover happen rather frequently within the Swiss watch industry, as truly great providers are tough to find and therefore are frequently bought up by bigger luxury groups or brands. With nevertheless, rather than a weight search for any new situation making company to utilize, Richard Mille set to create their proprietary facility: ProArt.

Creating a devoted manufacturing site on your own is definitely an incomparably more investment-heavy solution of computer is to locate a new supplier, but brands have top reasons to go lower this road. To begin with, keeping things “in-house” offers much greater versatility, something sorely required by innovative brands with relatively low production figures. Next, at any given time once the market is flourishing and also the interest in luxury watches continues to be constantly rising during the last 2 decades, almost all providers are becoming overbooked and therefore are getting problems with delivering the needed amounts promptly – or whatsoever. Obviously, many of these issues are non-existent if this involves proprietary facilities. Finally, for brands with as numerous new designs as Richard Mille, it’s borderline impossible to locate a new supplier able to quickly adjusting to the special and also altering needs, even while also maintaining using the ever growing demand.

Consequently, to avert similar issues later on, Richard Mille established ProArt. Spread over its 3,000 square-meter premises, ProArt is definitely an ultra-modern situation and movement component factory, composed of a remarkable variety of condition from the art CNC machines and departments devoted towards the creating, testing, manufacturing and designing of cases and choose movement parts. It’s here where a few of the craziest situation designs are combined with bold new materials and something meeting illustration of that’s NTPT carbon.


We’re mentioning NTPT carbon since it perfectly demonstrates probably the most pressing difficulties and challenges that many exterior providers simply couldn’t overcome. To start with, NTPT is definitely an very hard material which was really employed for the masts of the America’s Cup champion boat. What matters more from your perspective however is it is actually impossible to interrupt or scratch – and therefore, it’s very difficult to utilize, because it weakens tools similar to kryptonite weakens Superman (not the brand’s exact example). It’s built from 30 micron thick carbon threads, woven into layers that are then stacked up in ways the threads run diagonally, for further strength. The fabric takes place successfully having a resin, similar to within the situation more usual carbon fibre composites. Ultimately, the tonneau formed situation comprises around 800 layers, stacked on the top of each other.


So, what’s stand out relating to this material? It’s not only resistant against shocks, impacts and scratches, it passed all tests (associated with allergy, shock resistance along with other factors) on try, that is a unusual task among new materials. Throughout the visit, we wound up going for a sharp edge and itching the top of the NTPT situation: we had small steel colored lines show on the top however it switched to be residue in the edge itself. After we easily wiped that off, the situation looked as if nothing happened and You can be assured i was not practicing much empathy while undertaking our possibly childish yet revealing experiment. It is primarily the special construction that causes it to be so durable as well as so hard to machine and also the huge quantity of layers cause quick and excessive put on on traditional cutting tools.

To have an innovative brand, it’s conquering challenges such as this, from the growth and development of new materials and procedures, that justifies an investment and also the effort of making a brand new manufacture. As the Swiss watch industry happens to be and shall always are proud of its traditions, one needs to understand that technological developments have grown to be a way to succeed, no matter whether or not they concern manufacturing abilities or finish-product related developments. It’s a technological arms race between small , famous labels alike to locate new methods to improving the sturdiness, precision or aesthetic qualities of watches. And there’s an apparent edge to getting ale carrying out both research and also the realization under a person’s own conditions.

More practically speaking, what ultimately sticks out since many peculiar relating to this facility may be the remarkably low quantity of people employed in it: it might best be referred to like a museum of large, incredibly complicated and bafflingly costly CNC machines, some focusing on only one small spend an engineer waiting continuously yet others carrying out as much as five tasks in series all in almost perfect silence. Things are excessively neat and well-organized, even by Swiss manufacture standards.

Human skill is necessary once components leave the CNC machines and therefore are ready for hands-finishing. Even though sprucing up is performed on classical tools, the specifications are very minor making for any limited room for error. Otherwise, the various – and rather complex-formed – components won’t fit together. CNC tools are carrying out the lion’s share of labor if this involves crafting the constituents, while people focus on the look, CNC programming and pedaling, along with the hands-finishing, putting together, and final quality checking from the different situation and movement components.

Overall, the company Richard Mille has every need to are proud of ProArt, its latest – and most likely finest – investment so far. It allows it to visit lower its very own streets that let it support its bold ideas as well as the much more bold prices practices with truly impressive technological discoveries. Another prime illustration of this is the way its models constructed from super-light materials have been in exactly the same cost segment as gold as well as platinum watches from broadly acknowledged and much more traditional brands. A specific item above and here is the RM27-01 Rafael Nadal piece, among the least heavy wrist watches available a reference that comprises everything Richard Mille is all about: an exclusive movement, an area-age situation material along with a unique twist in the construction.

To start with, its APR&P developed movement weighs in at in at 3.5 grams and it is suspended in mid-air within the situation, hanging on barely visible metal cables, permitting the movement to move around a little assuming it’s uncovered to fierce shocks. Most importantly off, the situation consists of a fabric built from nano tubes of carbon, heavy-laden by having an epoxy resin. It’s so light the watch with no bracelet weighs in at a really featherweight 13 grams, and that is using the movement installed, obviously.

From the managing approach it’s locating the necessary know-how, human and technological assets, along with the financial stability which makes ProArt this kind of impressive achievement. The thing is, copying such opportunities mean a real challenge for brands owed to among the all-effective luxury groups with virtually endless budgets. Even though some (or possibly many) types of Richard Mille represent science-fiction greater than good sense, once prices and cost proposition is incorporated within the equation, the technical accomplishments of the trademark remain undeniable.

From the watch enthusiast’s perspective, like it or hate it, why is Richard Mille stick out from most others in the market isn’t just their constant search for the following crazy idea but the fact they are crazy – and effective – enough to construct and dedicate a brand new condition from the art manufacture to getting pregnant and recognizing these out-of-this-world ideas. Within the constant to competition that’s present between your top gamers in the market, ProArt has and continuously create critical factors of watches that really help push the limit of what’s possible in watch making.

Considering a few of the more insane concepts recognized there, such as the bed room wall poster-worthy RM27 Rafael Nadal or even the RM59 Yohan Blake, you might imagine where they’re born to become a lot more like Mordor than other things… but it’s everything but: a relaxed place with engineers and craftsmen silently active in the tasks at hands, wandering around a range of advanced metal and plexiglass machines. That’s ProArt which is how the following large factor from Richard Mille normally takes shape.

Our next stop what food was in the Richard Mille headquarters, only a couple of minutes from the situation manufacture, and in L’ensemble des Breuleux. Beyond that contains the brand’s offices, it’s here where actual in-house set up from the watches happen. Once we noted, most actions utilized in Richard Mille watches are produced either by APR&P or even the Vaucher manufacture, as the watchmakers working in the HQ are mainly accountable for casing up finished actions, in addition to carrying out repairs. Really, each and every watch of the trademark is going to be done only at that place, a minimum of for that casing up, testing and finalization from the pieces. To create things a little more difficult it should be noted this facility is capable of doing putting together any Richard Mille movement, regardless its complexity.

Essentially, it may be stated that although the complete most of the Swiss the watchmaking industry industry works together with providers at some point for making their items, situations are a little more hectic if this involves Richard Mille. The main reason for your will probably be their fast and constant growth we pointed out above. It is primarily the tirelessly growing production that causes it to be hard to bring the hugely complicated task of motion (watching) set up in one place, further complicated by the amount of different calibers and complications which understand in to the brand’s collections.


With nevertheless, the headquarters in L’ensemble des Breuleux may be the decision-maker if this involves product design, engineering, in addition to other production related issues – no matter whichever partner is involved. In addition, as mentioned just above, all watches are cased up and completed here. We’d interesting timing for travelling the couple of dozen work stations found on the bottom floor from the building, as all of the watchmakers had just left for supper. It had been as if time had frozen within the workshop, using the tools and components the craftsmen had used just still lounging around – although carefully covered from dust at the appropriate interval, obviously.

Some stations had actions still within their plastic holders because they were shipped from Vaucher, awaiting the timepiece maker to help make the necessary modifications and also to match all of them with the needed cases. The empty workshop with still all things in place (and merely the watchmakers gone missing) was as strange of the sight because it was inviting: I truly wished to sit back at certainly one of individuals benches and try to finish a task which was left there lounging half completed. What steered me away though – beyond understanding my apparent restrictions if this involves hands-eye coordination and terrible insufficient any skill – were individuals guide guides hanging through the desks, showing the myriad different tasks which should be carried out while finalizing the simpler pieces.

The thing is, area of the benefit of all Richard Mille collections develops from a rather unique feeling of technical complexity, something which becomes truly tangible only at that time one sees one of these simple products within the metal… or carbon fibre, or whatever. Could it be something which does – or needs to – attract everybody? Definitely not! But it’s this strong technological flair that continues to be among the key selling points of the Richard Mille watch, well, a minimum of for individuals who are able to afford one.

To conclude, this behind the curtain look revealed the way the brand works a remarkable tight rope walk if this involves syncing its different super-complicated and equally challenging projects between its headquarters along with its proprietary facilities and key providers. Consequently, in exchange in certain strange and quite unparalleled way, they like nearly unmatched freedom in setting the prices, because the market, to date, appears to soak up their consistently growing production. Within the first decade of their operation, we had Richard Mille laugh when confronted with traditional the watchmaking industry in additional ways than we’d choose to remember, setting its very own path, paved with interesting, frequently groundbreaking – you will find, sometimes odd – technological developments. The issue now, for just one, is when the company will develop its present success, and 2nd, what it really will develop next – however this, can be.