You are launching an RM 50-01 in partnership with the Lotus F1 Team and Romain Grosjean. What does this partnership involve?
We have a contract with the Lotus Formula 1 team and with its drivers. We are introducing a watch bearing its name and that of Romain Grosjean at this SIHH, equipped with a G-Force Meter and featuring the new material we are presenting, NTPT. This carbon-based technology stems from the production of sails for racing yachts.
It is still possible to enjoy clear visibility in the world of F1 alongside the all-pervasive presence of Rolex in this sport?
Yes, because our association is with the drivers, to develop products with them – just as we did for Felipe Massa. At that time, his team was partnering another brand, which didn’t stop us working together. We are interested in the sportsmen themselves and we have indeed just launched a partnership with Alexis Pinturault, one of the most promising young French skiers, who just won the slalom ski race at Wengen last Sunday.
And what about the partnership with Natalie Portman?
The partnership agreement was signed in 2012, but it took two years to create the watch bearing her name, the RM 19-01. It represents one of her favourite symbols, the spider. We like it when our partners share their emotions with us and tell us what they like.
So 2014 is a year dedicated to women at Richard Mille ?
It’s doubtless going to be a big year for women internationally, so we are taking the opportunity to launch several new watches in our ladies’ collections. The latter account for 20% of our production, but we think that figure could in time reach 30 to 35%. With our new materials, such as white or chestnut brown ceramics, and our bracelet on the RM 07-01 model, we certainly have some features that are liable to appeal to women.
What’s so special about this bracelet?
For the time being, it’s intended for ladies, and it meets all Richard Mille criteria – meaning it is complex, extremely well finished and perfectly integrated with our cases and their distinctively curved shapes. Richard Mille has always been very sensitive to wearer comfort.
For the first time, visitors to your booth are forbidden to take pictures. Why is that?
We have always been open to this principle. A lot of people like to take snaps of absolutely everything. Even with a smartphone, you can get impressive results. But some of them are used to feed the fake-watch market and so we want to protect the brand and our clients.
Could you give us a few current business figures?
This year, we will produce about 3,400 watches, compared with less than 3,000 in 2013. Our turnover for 2013 was 123 million Swiss francs and we are aiming for 150 million in 2014. Our average price increases year on year and is now over the 110,000 € mark. We sell what we produce and our order book is full.
What’s the geographical spread of your activity?
China represents less than 3% of our turnover, and we want to develop it – that is indeed our goal this year. The rest is pretty well balanced, just as Mr Richard Mille himself has always wished it to be: 40% in Asia, 30% in Europe and about the same in America. We are going to open another 8 to 10 boutiques, including in London, Jeddah, Beijing and Shanghai, after opening several last year in locations such as Las Vegas and Macao.