This year, the spotlight seems to be firmly back on the artistic side of the brand, with the release of its latest masterpiece, and with its partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021.
One of the core elements of Richard Mille’s approach to watchmaking, from the very inception of his eponymous brand in 2001, was to make each timepiece a canvas to explore design, art and architecture. The brand’s association with art and creativity goes beyond its watches. While its association with sports, motorsports and sporting personalities is well documented, the brand has also been a consistent supporter of artistic infinitives worldwide.
This July, the brand debuted three models in the new RM 07-01 Coloured Ceramics collection: RM 07-01 Pastel Blue, RM 07-01 Pastel Pink and RM 07-01 Pastel Lavender; each limited to 50 pieces.
At the artistic centre of the three models is a first for Richard Mille: hand-crafted guillochage. A decorative craft that has its origins in the 16th century, guillochage consists of individual repeating lines, cut by a hand-turned lathe, that intersect and overlap to create a graphic motif. Practitioners of this art, known as guillocheurs, can train for decades before they are considered masters of their craft.
On the new RM 07-01 models, the rhodium-plated red-gold dial elements featuring the guillochage, display patterns that recall botanical, sunburst and Art Deco motifs. The lines of the pattern subtly align with the floating hour markers on the micro-blasted titanium flange.
When Cécile Guenat, the brand’s Director of Creation and Development, considered incorporating the guillochage technique within a Richard Mille watch, she wanted to present it with “a unique fresh pop of energy.” Her inspiration, she reveals, came from Florida’s largest city. “I was inspired by the Art Deco architecture you see in Miami, these pastel colours and bold patterns are so distinctive, and convey such an amazing vibe and attitude.”
Surrounding the guilloché dial segment and reinforcing the collection’s theme of modernity blended with tradition, are geometrically shaped elements of ceramic and rubber, in perfect complement with the ceramic case and bi-colour rubber straps. The result is art that adorns the wrist.
Beyond its watches, the Richard Mille brand’s commitment to artistic expression has been through its support of several prestigious art initiatives around the world. These include the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the contemporary art biennal Desert X, collaborations with choreographer Benjamin Millepied and composer Thomas Roussel, and the acquisition of Éditions Cercle d’Art – a publishing house created with the support of Pablo Picasso in the 1950s.
Closer to home, Richard Mille has partnered with Louvre Abu Dhabi this year to present the Art Here 2021 exhibition, on view from 16 November 2021 to 27 March 2022 in the museum’s Forum. For this inaugural year, UAE-based artists were invited to submit proposals around the theme of ‘Memory, Time and Territory.’ The exhibition hopes to shine a spotlight on local talent as part of the UAE’s wider 50th National Day celebrations.
The artworks received through the open submission process, are to be shortlisted by the four-member jury, drawn from diverse artistic spheres including curatorial, architectural and institutional.
The 2021 jury members are H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chairman of UAE Unlimited, an art collector and patron of the Centre Pompidou, the British Museum, Sharjah Art Foundation, and an honorary patron of Art Dubai; Christine Macel, the Chief Curator at the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou and an art critic; Hala Wardé, founding architect of HW Architecture, long-term partner of Jean Nouvel and the lead of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project; and Dr Souraya Noujaim, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management Director.
Commenting on the event, Dr Noujaim said: “We are happy to launch this new chapter in collaboration with Richard Mille, marking Louvre Abu Dhabi’s continued extension into contemporary art and highlighting our ever-present dedication to local artistic talent.”
Following the exhibition’s inauguration, the jury members will also select the winner of the Richard Mille Art Prize and the cash prize of $50,000.
In the course of the past twenty years, the Richard Mille brand has evolved from a fledgling start-up to one of the most sought after names among watch connoisseurs, particularly among the younger generations. Much of this success has to be credited to the brand’s distinctive and uncompromising approach to watchmaking.
A key component of this approach has been the brand’s commitment to the artistic expression of its timepieces. However, its commitment to art and artists, in general, has played its part in helping creative individuals to realise their potential.