In the latest in our series of interviews with senior executives and leading decision-makers in the luxury watch industry, we catch up with Alexandre Mille, Global Sales Director, Richard Mille.
This has been extraordinary year, for everyone. For those in the watch industry, it’s meant a fundamental re-adjustment in how they do business. With the resurgence in Covid-19, Watches and Wonders, one of the world’s largest watch fairs, announced they were canceling the live event this April, with a digital replacement. Watches and Wonders replaced Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH. They hope everyone will be able to gather for a live event in 2022.
So the conversation with luxury watch brand executives is how they market going forward, since the live shows have been the places where manufacturers, collectors, retailers, and press gathered to look at new pieces. Typically with live events, movers and shakers gather and exchange ideas and opinion and business is shaped going forward.
So executives like Mille have re-think how they’ll march in what is a multi-billion dollar global luxury watch market:
What excites you about the watch industry, and about your brand, for 2021?
2020 was a year in which we had to overcome various logistical problems as you can well imagine. Nonetheless the situation did not inhibit the brand’s energy in any way. In fact, despite everything and thanks to everyone’s incredible will, we were able to present some of our most extraordinary and complicated timepieces. Those comprise novel horological innovations with new in-house designed and manufactured movements.
For these reasons and more, I can openly admit that I am extremely proud of what we accomplished during 2020. The pandemic tested our limits and showed us how strong the bond between everyone at RM is. It showed how resilient our inner core is. For that reason, I can unreservedly look to 2021 with a very positive outlook.
What are your plans to re-enter the market after the pandemic?
We never really left it. What did happen was that we experienced a paradigm shift that accentuated and developed new ways of communication, with more digital interactions with clients, journalists, partners, friends.
In 2021, of course we hope to meet our customers and friends in a “real life”, in our boutiques of course. But also on our events, such as Le Mans Classic, the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille, etc. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a return to normality at the international level, as soon as possible. We miss the nice meetings and the sharing that these events generate.
What will the luxury watch landscape look like post-Covid? Is the definition of luxury changing, based on what the world is going through?
My personal view is that the post pandemic landscape will see an increase in the need for experiencing luxury. And that in essence it has become more important than ever. There are so many uncertainties to cope with on a daily level. And luxury products, such as inspirational timepieces, can provide a small private world of something beautiful and refined every time it is used.
I also believe that this year created a call for authenticity. Like after every crisis, people are looking for something simpler, basic human relationships, but also authentic know-how that will stand the test of time. A product that will be a testimony of our era, and that will still be here in 20, 30 years from now.
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Despite the market challenges, can we expect a robust schedule of roll-outs from Richard Mille?
Our brand has always worked with a very long-term view towards research, development and production that is therefore projected several years into the future at any given time.
Although our regular 2020 production was lower than expected under the influence of the pandemic, new projects have not been affected in any way. We will observe the same strategy as always, waiting until the watch is ready, and only then launching it. We are not working with any deadline.
So, as we have done every year over the course of two decades, you will definitely continue to see more fantastic new timepieces presented during the course of 2021.
And finally, tell us about your personal style, and how does your watch collection reflect or augment that?
That is a good question.
If I had to describe my style, I would say casual streetwear. The number 1 factor for me is comfort. But I am trying to head to a smarter look. I always loved watches, so I have a good number of Swatch (especially the sistem 51, which was my first automatic watch), Casio and G-Shock. I also have an Ikepod.
And of course, I am regularly experiencing the cutting edge of RM’s developments – as they emerge in their first realizations. One of my favorite Mille watch is the RM 63-01 Dizzy Hands.
IMAGES: RICHARD MILLE