Road trip: Richard Mille and McLaren Automotive break new ground
‘We love extreme objects and have a passion for techniques and materials exploration,’ says Richard Mille, of the connections that first set the eponymous watch brand’s newly signed 10-year relationship with McLaren Automotive alight. Love it or hate it, Mille’s singular design aesthetic is the result of the brand’s dedication to technological experimentation. And despite many copycat attempts, in terms of form and feel, only a Richard Mille watch looks like a Richard Mille design.
This month, the brand’s eponymous CEO launched a joint venture with supercar maker McLaren Automotive. It also sets out to break new ground in terms of the watch being a joint commission: the RM 11-03 McLaren watch, has emerged from the collaborative efforts of McLaren design director Rob Melville and Richard Mille Engineer Fabrice Namura. It will be offered only to customers of the new McLaren Ultimate Series through Richard Mille Boutiques. Drivers can choose their edition number of 1 to 500 (the total being made) of their car to the caseback number of their watch. ‘The watch curves are similar to the car, aesthetically and functionally. We wanted to take on a real technical challenge; to come up with something other than a mere dial with a McLaren inscription,’ explains Namura.
The case of the RM 11-03 McLaren is made of Carbon TPT®, with spacey Orange Quartz TPT® inlay, orange being McLaren’s ‘heritage’ colour. The pushers are titanium, as is the crown which, shaped like a McLaren wheel, feels like something of a detail too far. But the titanium accents work well and it’s the material blends that command attention.
‘Carbon is part of the McLaren Automotive DNA,’ explains McLaren Automotive CEO, Mike Flewitt. ‘it is extremely resistant and lightweight – we make the lightest cars in our class. People who buy Richard’s watches want to wear them and they buy our cars to drive them, so our collaboration with Richard has grown naturally from what we both believe in. It has many of the recognisable McLaren codes. It’s a very serious object with an emotional connection, a design from the heart’.
‘Great design tells a story,’ Melville concurs, ‘There’s always a way to incrementally improve – there’s always more to come.’
Limited to just 500 pieces globally and priced at 180,000CHF plus tax, the watch will be made available to McLaren Ultimate Series clients.