There is a tendency for watchmakers to err on the side of 'feminine' when considering women's watch design – which often means teeny and fashion oriented. For those of us who crave something more structured and tech-savvy, options can be limited. But all that is changing as Richard Mille, that most tech-oriented of men's brands, proves. Its new boutique in Mayfair, London, has upped its women's offering from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of their collection due to a demand for its sculptural, materials-driven pieces.
'I've always liked working on women's designs,' founder and CEO Richard Mille says at the opening of the new Mount Street boutique. 'I love experimenting with materials and, having trained with a jeweller, gemstones are just a different type of material to me. I work with them in the same way that I work on my men's watches.'
The 'RM 07-01', in rich brown or white ceramic, is defined by a skeletonised automatic movement. Pleasingly, all Mille's women's watches are mechanical – no quartz movements sneak in to diminish its offering. Hence, the 'RM 07-01' is no delicate wallflower. It is engineered so that the width of the rotor is adjustable, which prevents over-winding and potentially straining the mechanism if you are, say, in training for a marathon.
The basic design mirrors the distinctive form of the men's watches – the tonneau-shaped case and screws attaching the strap directly to the case add an industrial frisson to the aesthetics. Even the 'RM 051', which comes in red gold with pavé diamonds and has an abstracted phoenix spreading its wings across the dial, makes a feature of the screws. Mille designs are undeniably bold and sizeable. However, they are surprisingly sleek when worn – mainly due to their ergonomic make-up: the entire case curves, cuff-like, to perfectly fit the wrist.
A smattering of diamonds around the dial are dapper yet reserved. But then, an over-the-top approach was never on the cards. As Mille says, 'The lines of my women's watches have good tension, and I can express a delicacy within them. I don't want to lose my soul developing blingy watches for the sake of it.'