Sometimes the world is a wonderful place. Especially when you find yourself in Ay, the center of the Champagne production, at the estate of Deutz, in the company of Richard Mille and Jean-Marc Lallier-Deutz himself.
Cyril fully understands the art world, yet he wishes to do things his own way, and he does not like to follow the mainstream. So we both are tuned to the same wavelength. If you search for an artist, you need to realise that not each artistic potential can be implemented within a wristwatch, and not every artist is prepared to take up particular challenges. Moreover, an artist should feel comfortable working with all of the constraints, therefore it requires a lot of energy and time to research, initiate and execute tasks similar to this one. Kongo took up the challenge and appreciated it fully with a fantastic result. For the first time, an artist has transferred his world of the tremendously large to the heart of a watch movement in a symbiotic manner, which makes it bigger than life, a universe unto itself.Last year the RM 19-02 Tourbillion Fleur was the showstopper in SIHH 2015, and it was our favourite. Tell us about this year’s novelties.To receive the fullest information our website is really the best source, and we work very hard indeed to keep it absolutely updated and informative because of this. I would need a complete page to go into every facet of all the new pieces here, but a fast list in any case would cover the new fountain pen, the S05, made from NTPT carbon using its retractable nib construction. The fountain pen took almost four years to investigate and develop before appearing as a superb, highly technological, one-of-a-kind object.
Even very small items like screws that one might not detect are designed to our exacting specifications. The use of more expensive to cut, mill and complete titanium is used for many movement parts instead of traditional German silver. ‘Naked’ movements show every detail into its owner, so no defects can be hidden, and we provide the maximum ergonomic fit into the wrist with difficult to produce curved cases and fitting straps.It is stated that together with the RM 001 Tourbillion a new age of watchmaking started. What’s it Richard Mille added into the industry?It has been a shot across the bow of the ship so to speak. This was a high end tourbillon, made at a titanium case, with lots of titanium movement components, together with the movement coming out of the front and the rear, in a brand new style of tonneau situation that hugged the wrist unlike any other. It had top rated chronometric results along with a design and layout that used the mechanism and meeting of the watchcase included components of a new and innovative yet subtle language of layout in horology. There was nothing like it, before or after.Why is your Richard Mille watch regarded one of the most expensive watches?Normally in the watch industry, you produce a model with a projected price point and target audience planned ahead of time. The ‘ceiling’ on the projected price point dictates exactly how the implementation of the final watch will emerge. In our situation, it’s the specific opposite condition. We produce an uncompromised vision of how it should be, and that’s it. At the end of the afternoon, all of the manufacturing, preparation, R&D and material costs involved are added up and the price point is calculated according to the actual and immediate costs incurred.
While the might seem a world apart, the high-tech watches of Richard Mille require in fact a significant amount of manual craftsmanship to come to life. At the same time, while a lot is still done by hand, the production of superb champagne is aided by modern technology whenever the product benefits from it. The picking of the grapes is done completely by hand because only a trained eye can select the best fruit. This is quite a contrast with the winery, a space dominated by the large stainless steel vats. Each contains the still wine of a carefully documented plot in the vineyards and here the wine ferments at low temperatures of 16-17 degrees. Monitoring its progress requires, however, still the experience of Deutz “Chef de Cave”.
Founded in 1838, the Deutz Estate not only comes with impressive cellars (containing about 8 million bottles) but also with a fine manor. Decorated in traditional French style, it is surprising how easily the various Richard Mille models adapt to these classical surroundings. Perhaps this is because when you forget for a while about the high-tech materials and the innovative movements, in essence, most Richard Mille’s are still a tonneau shaped watch. This is perhaps the most French of all case shapes and like most things French a timeless classic in no matter how advanced you make its inner workings or outer case.
It might have been the excellent champagne, but visiting Deutz and contemplating the beautiful Richard Mille watches in such a historical and luxurious surrounding do give you a deeper understanding of the brands’ core DNA.