The name Richard Mille is very well known, but not always terribly well understood. It gets in all the right places, thanks to partnerships with glamorous names in sports like F1, golf, athletics and polo. But for all the people who recognise the name, those who are not that deeply into watches can find it puzzling.
This is not surprising, as nobody foresaw the success of a company like Richard Mille, other than perhaps the man that gave the company its name, the car-loving Frenchman who in the late 1990s came up with the formula for a whole different kind of watch.
Mille used his obsession with F1 engineering as an inspiration to make watches with techniques and materials that had never been used before. They also did not look like watches were supposed to look, and to top it all they carried price tags more readily associated with real estate.
They could also be treated differently to other watches. Normally something intricate like a tourbillon means a watch must be carried with care, worn as an object of admiration, but not bashed around too much.
But a Richard Mille, no matter what clever machinery is inside, is designed to take one hell of a beating.
Since launching at the turn of the century, the company has produced watches that are the object of obsessive affection for a select club of people. They share the vision of a man who looked at the mechanical watch and decided it needed to be driven into another dimension. Not everybody understands.
For those that do, this is not a problem.
RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph is the first watch jointly commissioned by Richard Mille and McLaren Automotive. The case, designed to be light yet extremely strong, is made with the proprietary material Carbon TPT interlaced with orange Quartz TPT. The was created in collaboration between McLaren design boss Rob Melville and Richard Mille engineer Fabrice Namura. It has little touches like titanium chronograph pushers designed to look like the headlights of the McLaren 720S, and the crown is shaped like a McLaren lightweight wheel. Limited to 500 pieces worldwide. £173,000