Famed for its luxe, avant-garde timepieces, Richard Mille is also known for its elite group of women ambassadors. Zhuan Lee speaks to Amanda Mille, its director of brand and partnerships, on how the manufacture is advocating for more female representation.
The family of Richard Mille’s “friends of the brand” is made up of more than 40 members across categories. These varied and contrasting personalities include tennis star Rafael Nadal, sprinter Yohan Blake, actress Michelle Yeoh, artist Cyril Kongo, singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, showjumper Flore Giraud and Nelly Korda, golf gold medallist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, just to name a few. The common thread that runs through the ambassadors and the Swiss haute horlogerie brand: Both do not stop striving to be the best at what they do.
According to Amanda Mille, the independent Swiss manufacture’s brand and partnerships director, and founder Richard Mille’s daughter: “Some of our (ambassador) friends have been with us since the beginning. Over the last few years, we’ve been especially proud to have female athletes and drivers on our side.” By “drivers”, Amanda means the Richard Mille racing team, for which she doubles as its team manager.
An all-female racing team
Formed in 2019, the Richard Mille racing team comprises a trio of female drivers – a rarity in the world of motor sports. Its current team members are Colombian Alfa Romeo test driver Tatiana Calderón, Dutch GT race winner Beitske Visser and 20-year-old German F3 driver Sofia Flörsch.
An ardent motor sports fan and president of the Endurance Commission of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), brand founder Richard Mille sought to empower and promote women in endurance and motor sports by introducing an all-women racing trio: “Through this team, we want to showcase the talent and expertise of the many women drivers who still lack opportunities to get behind the wheel. All sports are open to men and women, why not motor sports?”
Amanda applauds the female racing team: “It’s the meeting between the right people and the motivation of my dad and his role as the president of the Endurance Commission at the FIA that made this possible. It’s also a huge challenge to find female drivers that are at a sufficiently high level to drive this kind of car at the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because they aren’t capable… no one gave them the right opportunities nor the chance to dream of being at the top level. That’s why we’re immensely proud of these ladies who are competing at the top level because they need to be extremely strong to still believe (in their own capabilities).”
Cause for more female presence
This relentless pursuit of perfection and the courage to defy conventions also extend to the ethos of the manufacture, which has always been renowned for honouring women. Just as Richard Mille has never treated its ladies’ timepieces as token complementary options to its men’s watches, the brand is adamant about fighting for women not only in motor sports, but also in resisting gender clichés. Together with all the other ladies working for the Swiss watchmaker, Amanda tirelessly pushes for more female representation in the world of Richard Mille.
Viewing its partners as role models rather than figureheads like other brands do, Richard Mille creates a strong relationship with its ambassadors based on trust, respect, communication and mutual admiration. “We share a common passion and values with our partners, which makes it very easy to work together. They help us to drive further towards perfection. And when money is not your main point of interest in a partnership, only then can you create miracles and magic,” Amanda elaborates.
Women of substance
A self-professed motor sports lover, she speaks enthusiastically about the brand’s new adventure in the endurance racing world. “I love cars even more than some of my brothers do. Probably because it’s a passion that I’ve shared with my dad from an early age and also because I love to drive, both on the road and on the track,” professes Amanda.
Since the 2005 launch of the RM 007, Richard Mille’s first timepiece dedicated to women, its ladies’ segment has amassed a loyal following of female fans who have fallen hard for the art of cutting-edge horology.
Having spent several years in Dubai servicing Richard Mille’s top female clientele, Amanda is no stranger to strong and confident women who are also well versed in watchmaking. “These women know exactly what they want and they pay as much attention to the aesthetics of a timepiece as they do its mechanisms,” she notes.
“I remember my dad saying that ladies take more time to fall in love with a brand, but when they do, they stay. And that’s exactly what has happened,” she adds. According to Amanda, women who have been inducted into the world of high watchmaking and Richard Mille have
become the brand’s biggest fans. “We’re very pleased to be able to create the right pieces for them,” she continues.
“Ladies have a very different relationship with items that matter to them, such as watches and jewellery. Without sounding too clichéd, they love to understand the story behind things,” Amanda reveals about her observation of male and female clients’ purchasing habits when it comes to watches. “Our female clients love to come into our boutiques and try on the watches. They pay so much attention to the details, whereas men are simply able to order something they see online without even trying it on,” she explains.
However, Amanda dismisses the possibility of moving the brand’s retail operations online completely. “From our point of view, we very much need to be in contact with our clients. We don’t make these watches for us, but for them. And when you create such timepieces, you need to take the time to explain to clients what is behind each piece and its complexity. It’s a work of passion, and passion is made to be shared in real life,” she maintains.
Passionate about contributing even more towards the brand, Amanda says: “Before joining the family business, I was lucky to be able to follow my own path, where I had the opportunity to test myself first. My brothers and I are lucky that no one forced us to be part of anything, and yet we all found our ideal place. We truly are highly complementary. It’s magical and things could not be more perfect,” she says about her younger siblings, Dimitri and Alexandre, who both work for Richard Mille as well.
Amanda reiterates that she and her siblings have no intention to make major changes to their father’s eponymous brand and simply want to continue his work with humility and passion: “In comparison with some other second-generation members of family businesses, the difference with us is that we’re so much in love with what our dad has created.”
(All images: Richard Mille)
This story first appeared in the Nov 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.