Cultivating its feminine side, the brand is the title partner for the second year running of the only international road rally exclusively for women. In this edition, despite the stormy weather, 90 crews representing 9 different nationalities faced-off in the spirit of friendly competition between Paris and Saint-Tropez.
Just moments before the starting gun went off on the elegant place Vendôme in Paris, where all checks were completed the evening before, there were doubts as to whether the crews assembled for this 2016 edition of the Rallye des Princesses would depart at all. But that would be underestimating the resourcefulness and enthusiasm of the woman who created and organises this event, Viviane Zaniroli:“The Princesses have once again acquitted themselves of challenges which, while very handsome, were particularly demanding. Despite exceptionally difficult racing conditions for this time of year, they showed extraordinary spirit in persevering with the adventure.” After starting off under torrential rain on May 29th, the contestants were to see sunshine only on Thursday, June 2nd, for the final leg, which took them from Pont-Royal to the place des Lices in Saint- Tropez. Special recognition is due to those who took part in convertibles, and slogged on for several days, drenched, in a state of utter discomfort.
It is something of an understatement to say that this regularity-based rally conducted on public roadways, in which both “Historic” automobiles—pre-war collectors’ cars (Austin Healey) and more recent “Classic” category vehicles (Ferrari, Porsche, Jaguar...) participate constitutes a genuine sporting challenge. In order to cover over 1,600 kilometres and complete several highly technical tests, the participants must bring together concentration and precision. The level of difficulty is highly demanding, and the 20 first cars exhibit particularly deft handling, both on the part of the driving team and their mechanics.
How could Richard Mille be indifferent to the combination of elegant antique automobiles, technical performance, sportsmanship and fair play? The brand presented its first ladies’ watch over ten years ago. Since then, the RM 007, RM 037, RM 07-01 as well as the Michelle Yeoh tourbillon and RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur, among others, have come to enrich what is today a broad collection. “Creativity is at the heart of every one of our calibres,” explains Richard Mille,“extending even to their technical qualities. Creating watches for the ladies’ collections opens an entire vista of new ideas that we see as so many exciting challenges to be met.” Today, it is the brand’s clientele that wears Richard Mille watches at the wheel as they are invited to take the drivers seat of a Porsche 956.
Although elegance and atmosphere are integral to the Rally des Princesses: charming stages that traverse magical countryside, chic eveningwear and striking disguises, a gentle arrival between the Lubéron river and the Baie des Canoubiers, the race owes its prestige just as much to the sportsmanship and fighting spirit that reign among its crews.
The ladies competing in the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille certainly showed no lack of competitive spirit and determination. This year’s edition will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most difficult since the event’s creation, not only due to the excruciating weather conditions, but also because of the technical course chosen by its organisers. The winning team for 2016 was Marie-Christine Perin and Véronique Morel- Lab (Austin Innocenti n° 70). In the ‘Classic’ category, first place went to the Caterham manned by Servane Gabillon and Chantal Duc Dodon. Hats off, ladies!
Women’s watches at Richard Mille
Richard Mille presented its first women’s model more than a decade ago, and since that time, the ladies’ collection collection has been regularly enlarged and extended on every level. The collection covers a myriad of choices including precious metals, ceramics, titanium and pink sapphire; tour- billons and automatics; movements with sculpted art figures and stone settings; function and date indicators, special rotor architecture and winding mechanisms, straps in all colors of the rainbow in rubber, satin or leather and two different precious gold versions; with literally hundreds of stone set cases available, the list is long and endless, rich and bountiful in every way.
Richard Mille:“All of our timepieces are rooted in creative impulses, with technical ‘hearts’ so to speak, however when we are creating watches for the women’s collections, a whole other palette of ideas are possible that can be used in a totally different manner com- pared to the men’s collections. It brings a new set of challenges to the table for me.”
RM 07-01 Skeletonised Ladies’ Automatic
A touch of colour via the use of ceramic
The RM 07-01 marked the first use of ceramics for the women’s collections, uniting toughness with beauty. The heart of this new timepiece centers on the novel, in house designed calibre CRMA2, a highly skeletonised automatic movement developed specifically for the RM 07-01. RM 07-01 Skeletonised Ladies’ Automatic (2014): ATZ white ceramic case, jasper and diamond set dial.
RM 007 Ladies’ Automatic
An iconic watch: combining beauty, ergonomics and technicality
The RM 007 was the first ladies’ watch of the collection. The unique winding mechanism using a transparent capsule filled with gold micro- balls was a premiere uniting beauty and winding efficiency. RM 007 Ladies’ Automatic (2005): White gold, red lacquer and diamonds set dial.
An exercise in style: no element is reduced to a purely decorative role
A special tourbillon timepiece draws its inspiration from the stylised outlines of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The Phoenix is adorned with diamonds and encapsulates the movement raising it to a highly complex and elegant work of art. RM 051 Manual Winding Tourbillon Phœnix - Michelle Yeoh (2011): White gold, case and phoenix set with diamonds.
RM 037 Ladies’ Automatic
Available in black, white ceramic and red gold as well as various stone-set versions, the tonneau-shaped case houses the skeletonised automatic CRMA1 calibre movement with an oversized date aperture and a push button to select the winding, neutral position or hand-setting functions and a rotor with variable geometry. RM 037 Ladies’ Automatic (2014): Case in gold NTPT Carbon , dial in black onyx set with diamonds.
RM 19-02 Manual Winding Tourbillon Fleur
A fairy-tale flower
The RM 19-02 Tourbillon Fleur epitomises the traditions of automata in a vibrant expression of watchmaking characteristic of Richard Mille’s distinctive vision of timekeeping. At the lower left of the dial, we see the magnolia surrounding a flying tourbillon with five delicate, hand-crafted and coloured petals. Working either in passing, or on demand, the magnolia opens and closes with rhythmic regularity in a delicate kinetic ballet. RM 19-02 Manual Winding Tourbillon Fleur (2015): White gold case set with diamonds, hand-painted floral pattern.