The History and Evolution of Richard Mille Luxury Watches

The History and Evolution of Richard Mille Luxury Watches
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The History and Evolution of Richard Mille Luxury Watches

Richard Mille introduced his first watch in 2001, bringing in a new era in watchmaking. Richard Mille watches were formed from experimental study on high-tech materials with a particular design to underscore the concept of performance. In fact, "a racing machine on the wrist" was one of the brand's earliest slogans.

Richard Mille, on the other hand, exhibited great regard for the Swiss tradition of exquisite watchmaking by constructing exceedingly intricate mechanical movements that were constructed and finished by hand. His company began with a bold vision: apply to watches the processes and materials used in the most creative sectors, such as F1 racing cars or airplanes.

About Richard Mille

Richard, who was born in Draguignan, France in 1951, began his career in the watchmaking sector in 1974 and held executive positions in numerous watch companies before becoming managing director (and shareholder) of the watch division of renowned French jewelry firm Mauboussin in the early 1990s.


During these years, Richard Mille met Giulio Papi, a brilliant watchmaker and Director of Research and Development at Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi (APR&P), Audemars Piguet's high-end watchmaking branch.

Beginning Of Richard Mille Luxury Watches

In 1999, Richard Mille chose to launch his own luxury watch brand with the goal of breaking the established standards connected with high-end timepieces, which were frequently associated with a baroque aesthetic and costly materials such as gold and platinum.

Horometrie SA, the brand's main legal entity, was founded in 2001 by Richard Mille and Dominique Guenat and has its headquarters in Les Breuleux, a small town situated in the region of Jura in the north-west of Switzerland, located not far from the renowned watchmaking centers La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle.

His broad industry knowledge and numerous contacts enabled him to form active cooperation with some of Switzerland's leading manufacturers of movements and components.

Entry of Audemars Piguet

Audemars Piguet also became a minority shareholder in the project. Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi has been the technological partner for the creation of the most sophisticated mechanisms in the Richard Mille collection, including tourbillons and split seconds chronographs, since the inception.


The initial watch was not exactly uncomplicated. The Richard Mille RM 001, in reality, was a tourbillon model, one of the most distinguished horological achievements. Only 17 pieces were made. It served as a full-scale laboratory for Richard Mille and Renaud & Papi, as well as the technical solutions selected by their design firm.

The RM 001 was followed by the RM 002, an advancement of its predecessor that included a torque indicator, and the RM 003, which also included a second time zone.

The RM 004 split-seconds chronograph, released in 2003, was a natural progression for a brand with a sporting heritage, and it was the first in a long line of high-performance chronographs.

The RM 006 was the first watch to include a carbon-fiber baseplate. Carbon fiber revolutionized the aviation and automotive industries because of its unique properties: it is strong, stiff, lightweight, and very resistant to contraction and expansion when subjected to temperature changes. Richard Mille, who desired a black baseplate for this model, liked its dark appearance. Manufacturing such a baseplate, on the other hand, was incredibly difficult and expensive due to the enormous difficulties in cutting and drilling with the accuracy required for watchmaking.


In 2004, numerous models were introduced, including the remarkable RM 008, which included all of the features of the RM004 chronograph with the addition of a tourbillon, a first for the company. The model also has indications for torque and power reserve.

The RM 007 and RM 009, an experimental model in ALUSIC, a material commonly used in the construction of satellites and space stations, were introduced the next year by Richard Mille.

The RM 012, a tubular architectural tourbillon with a minimalist structure and significant manufacturing complexity, was released in 2006. This platinum limited edition watch had the explicit goal of revolutionizing the traditional concept of a plate on which wheels are positioned by replacing it with tubes to create a three-dimensional architectural ensemble that is reliable and efficient but extremely light and aerial.

Richard Mille designed one of its most successful chronographs with the RM 011 Felipe Massa Flyback Chronograph, which was manufactured in numerous iterations developed in partnership over the years.

The exceptionally flat and rectangular RM 016 appeared the same year, available in a number of materials including a titanium version with Titalyt, a treatment employing electro-plasma to boost the toughness of the metal by generating a crystalline oxide ceramic coating.

Richard Mille's RM 020 Tourbillon is a reworking of historical pocket watches, a confession of love for watchmaking traditions.

A Tourbillon For Ladies

Richard Mille's response to women's increased interest in intricate timepieces was the introduction of the RM 019, a tourbillon for Ladies, in 2009. Over the years, the brand accumulated a large variety of timepieces for women, which currently account for around 25% of the firm's overall sales.

The Tourbillon RM 27-02 is an example of a never-ending hunt for new challenges. Rafael Nadal was introduced during the 2015 edition of the French Open at Stade Roland Garros. This watch featured the first skeletonised unibody baseplate, which fused the caseband and baseplate into a single piece, eliminating the need to join both parts together: a solution necessitating extensive expertise and experience in micro-machining new materials. The design, inspired by race car chassis, significantly improves rigidity and resilience to impact.

Richard Mille debuted the RM 65-01 automated Split Seconds Chronograph, an automated split-seconds chronograph that became the most sophisticated watch ever to depart the Richard Mille factories, at the end of 2020, after five years of development. This type is driven by a high frequency balance with variable inertia beating at a frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 vibrations per hour) to assure stopwatch computations to 1/10th of a second.

The brand's focus on the feminine universe was highlighted once more with the Coloured Ceramics collection, which included new colorful models with ceramic cases, multi-material guilloché dials, and cutting-edge mechanical movements.

While the new RM 30-01 released in 2023, is not perhaps the most powerful model in Richard Mille's current lineup, it is a highly complex take on a conventional date-displaying automatic watch, and this latest pair of models pairs two of the brand's signature technology in a manually complicated timepiece that keeps an intense focus on delivering a straightforward and simple user experience. 

The little yellow face of the Smiley, drawn by Franklin Loufrani just over 50 years ago and initially appearing in the pages of the French newspaper France Soir, has become a ubiquitous symbol that has played a vital role at the core of pop culture through numerous generations.

Richard Mille celebrates the Smiley, an expression of happiness and optimism, with the launching of the RM 88 Automatic Tourbillon Smiley, a unique creation manufactured in a limited edition of 50 pieces.


Richard Mille was able to build clocks that have become the ultimate emblem of wealth and achievement in a surprisingly short period of time since its founding in 2001, without being shiny or relying on the intrinsic value of precious metals or diamonds.

Founded on three critical elements - the best in technical innovation, the best in artistry and architecture, and the best in the heritage and culture of fine watchmaking - Richard Mille's success is also due to the ability to keep surprising the market, so we are definitely excited to see what's next.

Choose from a wide selection of pre-owned watches to fit your budget and lifestyle. Our dedication to quality ensures that each timepiece meets our high standards. Znap Watch is frequently cited as the "best place to buy a luxury watch." Every piece we provide exudes timeless elegance, authenticity, and affordability.


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