When Richard Mille burst on to the watchmaking scene with his own brand in 2001, the horological world sat up and took notice. In this issue, we celebrate one of his latest models, the RM 11-01 Automatic Flyback Chronograph Roberto Mancini.
Boutique watchmakers come and go, but Richard Mille has been in the business for 14 years now and is not showing any signs of slowing down in his continuing quest for innovation. His first watch, the RM 001 reflected Mille’s love for the motor racing industry, with concepts and materials used in Formula 1 essential parts of its makeup.
He says of his watchmaking: “It is an expression of my love for all things technical, and for automobiles and aeronautics in particular. My watches are efficient and uncompromising, with no
use of gimmicks.”
The ergonomic design of that first watch, shaped to fit comfortably on the wrist, remains a signature of Richard Mille watchmaking, although more traditional looking round models have been produced since to accommodate for increasingly complicated movements.
Another signature that is just as indicative as the RICHARD MILLE signature on the dial is the brand’s association with some of the world’s biggest sports stars. Rafael Nadal, Filipe Massa, Yohan Blake, Jean Todt are amongst the many sporting personalities who have been immortalised with a Richard Mille watch in their name. In addition, there is a Richard Mille polo team, and, in 2012, the brand announced a partnership with Manchester City Football Club, becoming the English team’s official timing partner, showing a sharp eye for the markets in which his watches are valued, considering the exclusivity of polo and MCFC’s association with oil rich Abu Dhabi.
Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, perhaps best known for her appearance in the ground-breaking Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was also honoured with a watch, showing a move towards even wider audiences in the form of endorsements from international film stars.
Returning to that first watch, the RM 001 name was significant in the sense that it was the mark of things to come. It was the first watch by Richard Mille, so it was 001, and in the same year, RM 002 was launched, an evolution of the 001 but with titanium baseplate and torque indicator.
One of his most recent creations seals further Mille’s relationship with football, with the RM 11-01 Roberto Mancini. Mancini has, of course, a relationship with MCFC, having steered the club from 2009 until May 2013 when he was somewhat controversially sacked. He eventually found a new post at Turkish club Galatasaray.
Sacking or not, Mille clearly has faith in Mancini, who steered the Manchester Club to win the FA Cup and a league title. It seems this was not quite sufficient to keep happy the club’s backers, who, having sunk millions and millions of pounds into it, clearly wanted more return on their investment.
At the time the watch was released, the UK Daily Mail reported on Mancini’s elegant sense of style, and, the fact that he was often seen in the MCFC dugout, tapping his watch in the direction of officials during the dying minutes of the game. This could be to express frustration that the game should have ended by now, as City were winning, or complaining to the fourth official that insufficient extra time had been added.
The story of Mancini’s watch is this, that Mille was inspired to create the Mancini watch after seeing Sergio Aguero’s title-clinching goal after a thrilling match against Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium in 2012. Mancini said he was keen to acquire a watch because the stadium scoreboard clock does not show the quantity of extra time that has passed.
“It's special because when Richard and I talked about when we won the Championship last year, and those final minutes, I told him when the [90 minutes] time is finished in the stadium you can't see the time left, you don't know how many minutes - one, two, three?,” Mancini told Telegraph Time earlier this year.
Unsurprisingly, Mancini’s watch was designed with the beautiful game in mind, but, starts with a nod to the football manager’s home country, Italy, with the red, green and white of the Italian tricolour flag featuring on the watch. The dial displays match time, represented in 45 minute halves, and can take up to 15 minutes of stoppage time into account. Once the timer is set going, a, a single press of the pusher at four o’clock activates the flyback chronograph function and sends it back to
12, ready to start timing the second half. The watch also times extra time of up to 15 minutes, and also allows for five minutes of stoppage time.
So far, so useful for a football match, but what of the materials that go into the making of the watch? Well, it is fair to say that this is a fairly hefty watch, practically a wrist stop watch, which, let’s face it, is what any football manager or athletic coach wants. It is 50mm by 42.7mm by 16.15mm, and the material of the baseplate and bridges is Grade 5 Titanium with black PvD (physical vapour disposition, basically a form of extreme heating to give the case extra hardness) coating.
The case was created after a full year’s research and development, with 68 different stamping operations required for the bezel, middle section and case back. The machining process takes eight days for adjusting the bezel, five days for the middle section and five for the case back, showing the serious quantity of man hours required to create the watch.
Thanks to the precision with which the watch is created, its integral strength means that it is water resistant to 50m – very useful in Manchester, the city with the highest levels of rainfall in the UK - 807mm per year, as opposed to 584mm in London, although perhaps less useful in sunny Turkey. In addition, the power reserve is 50 hours, although the actual time may differ depending on the extent to which the chronograph is used.
All in all, it is a grand timepiece for a grand manager. It is certain that the world is waiting to see what both Richard and Roberto will do next.