Richard Mille launches the RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire
There's a clear symbiosis between sport and watches, precision timing being the hook upon which both depend. There are some pretty nifty designs delivered by the sports watch sector each year too. So far, though, nothing beats Richard Mille's spectacular 2012 offering - the Tourbillon Split Seconds Competition Chronograph RM 056 Felipe Massa Sapphire - a watch with a case of pure glass, cut and milled from solid blocks of sapphire. It looks futuristic and it is: in terms of engineering, it's a watchmaking first.
But then Mille is naturally adept at seamlessly combining - and propelling - both the technological and design facets of watchmaking. His pieces are not only worn by his ambassadors but used by them, while achieving spectacular sporting feats.
Check out Rafael Nadal's wrist the next time you watch him play tennis - most sport watch ambassadors wear theirs before and after games, lest anything hamper performance, yet Nadal's Mille-designed watch is so remarkably light that he wears it during play. The mechanical inner workings of the watch are so complex and cleverly arrived at that they, in turn, are engineered to stand the heat.
It's the same with Felipe Massa - aficionados will know that Mille and Massa, the Brazilian Formula 1 driver from which the eponymous new watch takes its name, have long been buddies: Masa was wearing his specially designed Richard Mille watch during his almost fatal crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009. The driver was airlifted to hospital. His watch kept ticking. Luckily, so did he.