I don’t eat deli sandwiches as thick as Richard Mille’s Horse Ceramic Tourbillon Qatari Exclusive watch. Steven King paperbacks aren’t as thick as Richard Mille watches. You could fit a gerbil in that case. In a world of horological marvels slimmer than two stacked pennies, who in their right mind would wear a watch so clunky? So obvious? Guess how much they’d have to pay . . .
A million dollars.
Mr. Mille’s money making minions don’t build a lot of watches, period. Current production levels hover under 5k pieces per year. (Patek Philippe “cranks out” around 50k timepieces per year, while Rolex manufactures a million.) Even so, how long before supply catches up with demand and the Richard Mille bubble bursts? Yeah, I said it. Bubble.
It’s gonna happen, what with an entire awards shows worth of celebs all-Milled-out, looking for the Next Big Thing. And no less than 774 of the brand’s watches for sale on chrono24.com. Not to mention the arrival of cheap copies into the marketplace.
There’s another reason the sun will stop shining on Mr. Mille’s high-priced horological hay making machine: the horse’s head watch and its mechanical stablemates are hideous.
I know: beauty is in the eye of the uneducated beholder. People who wouldn’t know Bauhaus from an outhouse. People who only recognize Michelangelo as a Teenage Mutant Nija Turtle. For these horophiles, a Richard Mille watch is the height of sophistication. Taste. Class.
Time will be just as kind to Mr. Mille’s aesthetic, even though, admittedly, his watches are a technical tour-de-force. Here’s Fratello’s homage to the engineering behind the Richard Mille RM 61-01.
Looks aside, this is exactly what we’ve come to expect from RM over the past few years. A case made from Carbon TPT and Quartz TPT layers is typically trailblazing. Layers of Quartz TPT (no thicker than 45 microns) are interwoven with layers of Carbon TPT.
With every layer, the orientation is changed by 45 degrees (increasing the strength of the finished product). This high-tech sandwich is then heated to 120-degrees centigrade while being compressed to a pressure of six bars.
These billets (comprising 600 layers) are then machined into the iconic tonneau case shape. The machining process unveils the multi-layered character of the watch, with random patterns coming to the surface.
Awesome! But a million bucks? Two million? “Ergonomic design, visual striking lines with exterior comfort make them expensive,” successstory.com explains, highlighting the RM 56-02 Sapphire above. Really?
Really! Especially when compared to the horological hair shirts produced by Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin and the rest of the fuddy duddy high horology cabal.
Here’s a video addressing the elephant-in-the-room pricing issue. The narrator admits Mille customers are getting screwed – but in a good way!
Despite their astounding materials and craftsmanship, there’s no getting around the fact that Richard Mille watches are the horological equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The primary reason Richard Mille timepieces are insanely expensive is . . . they’re insanely expensive.
Million dollar Milles feed directly into – and off of – our social media-driven culture of wretched excess. PHARRELL WILLIAMS’ $815,500 WATCH WAS THE REAL STAR OF CHANEL’S FASHION SHOW dmarge.com shouts. Yeah, screw Chanel’s 107-year history of haute couture. LOOK AT THAT WATCH!
This is not sour grapes. You couldn’t give me a Richard Mille watch. Actually, you could. And then I’d sell it before the price crashes, buy four of my favorite grail watches, and save the rest for a week or two at a Four Seasons hotel.
Don’t get me wrong: capitalism baby! Make yourself happy! Equally, something is worth exactly what someone will pay for it. Which Mille buyers will discover when the bubble bursts.