Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive?

Founded on a culture of fine watchmaking, artistry, and technical innovation, Richard Miller has become a significant force in the watch industry. So, you might ask, “Why are Richard Mille watches so expensive?”

Brands, such as Rolex and Patek Philippe, were viewed before as the kings of the mountain. Yet, a new breed has shaken up the established order. It’s Richard Mille, nicknamed the “billionaire’s handshake.”

It’s a Swiss watchmaking brand that makes futuristic timepieces. It also embraces the Haute-horology and modern engineering outfit, making it Formula One’s favorite watch brand. Some even call these watches the status symbols for the super-rich.

So, in today’s post, we look closely at why Richard Mille watches are so expensive and whether their million-dollar price tags are worth every last cent. But before that, let’s briefly glimpse the maverick watchmaker and the brand’s history.

About Richard Mille and the Eponymous Brand

Early beginnings

Richard Mille began his horological career in the 1970s with a boutique French watchmaker Finhor. Matra bought that company in 1981 when Mille started to excel. 

Rising through the ranks, Mille started managing the company’s watchmaking operation. They focused on brands like Yema and Cupillard Rieme, and produced France’s fine watches.

Mille eventually left Matra’s watchmaking operations. At that time, Seiko acquired Matra. Mille was on his new watchmaking endeavor with a jewelry firm Mauboussin, which was planning to enter the luxury watch market.

At the end of the 90s, Mille leaped and began his brand. It was the birth of what we now know as the Richard Mille brand.

“My goal was to create a new, ultra-high-end luxury segment within the high-end watch business,” Mille said, as published on the Richard Mille website.

So, he started his venture by partnering with Audemars Piguet (a shareholder of Richard Mille). Two years later, Richard Mille released their first watch.

A contemporary approach to horology

It was the RM 001 Tourbillon, a part of the series of 17 timepieces. The brand then revolutionized its first Richard Mille watch and called it the tourbillon RM 002.

The second Richard Mille watch has enhanced features. These include a function indicator with winding, hand-setting, and neutral positions and a movement baseplate in titanium.

Friends and partners

Mille joined forces with his good friend Dominique Guenat. Together, they strengthened their friendship through their shared passion for aeronautics, automobiles, watchmaking, and all things mechanical. 

Mille is passionate about Regatta (boat) and Formula 1 (open-wheel formula racing car) races. No wonder his watch brand now supports two complete Formula 1 teams and other high-profile divers.

Similarly, Formula One drivers enjoy wearing watches from the brand. Those who own the million-dollar watch include Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, and Kimi Räikkönen.

The brand now has many ambassadors, including Rafael Nadal, Felipe Massa, Roberto Mancini, Fernando Alonso, and Pharrell Williams. 

How Much is a Richard Mille Watch?

Richard Mille is not an ordinary timepiece. It has been considered the sports car of the wrist. Its cheapest model, RM 016 Automatic Winding Extra Flat, costs around $60,000 to $80,000. If that’s pre-owned, you may get it for 20% less.

The Most Expensive Richard Mille

One of the most notable watches from the brand is the minimal edition RM056, with just ten pieces produced. The 10th Anniversary Felipe Massa watch ranges between US$1,700,000 to $2,000,000.

So, what makes these watches so expensive?

Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive? [Top 7 Reasons]

Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive?

1. Limited Supply and Global Demand

Richard Milly only produces 3,000 watches annually. Even if that’s a relatively high number for a young brand, their demand consistently outstrips production. The high prices at auction even continue to reflect this trend.

An exceedingly rare example is the RM050 model, made to develop a series comprising just five pieces.

2. Avant-Garde Materials

Richard Mille’s timepieces are unlike any others. These watches are highly technical, designed from rare composite materials and for maximum lightness.

Despite their large dimensions, they weigh a few grams and pose less of a safety risk or performance impact than other brands’ watches.

In 2004, Mille developed the RM006 tourbillon timepiece for former Formula One driver Felipe Massa. The watch weighed slightly more than a credit card but could resist shocks of up to 500 g-forces. 

Massa wore that model when his car crashed ahead of the Hungary Grand Prix. He suffered severe head injuries, but his watch remained unscratched.

Speaking of weight, it’s also the first thing you’ll notice with the RM 50-3 McLaren F1 split-seconds tourbillon chronograph. It weighs only 1.41 punches, a feature that seems to defy physics. That’s because it combines a featherweight feel with solid construction.

The brand also uses rare materials, such as gold fused with carbon and quartz, silicon nitride, and other high-tech materials usually used by the aviation and racing industries.

3. Handmade

Another reason why it’s so expensive is that they’re handmade. If most brands have some level of automation when manufacturing their watches, not Richard Mille.

Each of their timepieces is designed by hand – beginning to end. A team of highly-skilled craftsmen and craftswomen make and assemble the watches.

The making of a case alone already takes up to 1,000 hours. Add the time it takes to make and create hundreds of tiny moving parts. 

4. Marketing

Aside from being nicknamed the “billionaire’s handshake,” Richard Mille only adorned people’s wrists within exclusive circles. It reinforces this message by having ambassadors, such as tennis champion Rafael Nadal and racing driver Felipe Massa.

5. Shock-Resistant

There’s a reason why Richard Mille is a favorite among sportspeople. That’s because they are shock-resistant, which can withstand up to 10,000 g’s. In shock measurement, the two components of velocity shock are duration (measured in milliseconds) and intensity (measured in g’s).

A drop of the watch from a table-top height to a hard floor results in a shock exceeding 1,000 g’s for three milliseconds.

Related: Why Are G Shock Watches So Expensive?

6. Complicated Movements

The movement inside the watch is highly complicated. And the accuracy of this movement is next to none. 

Plus, with the expertise and the combination of materials to build a Richard Mille, you’ll realize it’s a complicated work of art that can’t compare to another watchmaker. 

7. Exclusivity

The last reason that makes Richard Mille watches so expensive is exclusivity. It’s making a solid social or fashion statement with rare, high-quality items. Rocking a Richard Mille watch is a flex because not everyone can do it.

The Best Watches from the Richard Mille Brand

1. RM 60-01 Regatta Flyback Chronograph

Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive?
Photo Credit: Richard Mille

Loved by watch enthusiasts, the RM 60-01 Regatta Flyback Chronograph is the first navigation technical watch released by the brand. It has a semi-instantaneous, large date display, a double barrel system, and a sapphire dial. 

The price for this fine watch starts at $132,260.

2. RM UP-01 Ferrari Richard Mille Watch

Photo Credit: Richard Mille

The Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari reflects Ferrari’s values – elegant and instantly recognizable. It’s an ultra-flat watch with only 1.75 millimeters in thickness.

An ultra-flat Caliber RMUP-01 manual winding movement powers it with a function selector and a power received of 45 hours. It is also limited to only 150 pieces. 

This model results from more than 6,000 hours of laboratory testing and development.

3. Richard Mille RM 028 Divers Titanium Skeletonized

Photo Credit: Richard Mille

This practical successor to the RM025 diving tourbillon is spectacular on the wrist. It features a 47mm brushed titanium case, a unique unidirectional locking dive bezel, and a supple natural rubber strap with a backside relief channel to allow the escape of grit and moisture for good measure.

This luxury watch costs $90,000 to $150,000.

Frequently Asked Questions About Richard Mille Watches

Why is Richard Mille’s watch brand overpriced?

Richard Mille prices are high because of its core elements: materials, design, and complicated movement. They are hand-made, making it laborious to produce one. Plus, the brand enjoys celebrity endorsements.

How much is the cheapest Richard Mille?

The cheapest Richard Mille costs around $60,000 to $80,000. That entry-level watch is even more expensive than the luxury timepieces from other brands.

Do Richard Mille watches hold value?

Yes, they hold their value well because of the factors mentioned earlier. As a result, it makes the timepieces a good investment if they’re looking for a watch that’ll appreciate throughout the years.

What’s the big deal about Richard Mille?

Richard Mille uses materials that are super durable yet incredibly lightweight. It also became more popular after a 10-year partnership with one of the most successful teams in grand Prix racing – the McLaren F1.

Final Verdict: Is It Worth Buying a Richard Mille? 

Why Are Richard Mille Watches So Expensive?

Like many watch fanatics, we love Richard Mille. But as to whether they’re worth buying, it’s up to you to decide.

If we have the budget, our answer is a definite yes. There’s “power” in wearing and holding a Richard Mille watch. It’s like you’re holding a large sapphire or ruby. 

Its clever mix of ambassador marketing and innovation gave the brand a face to the “super high-end luxury watch” label. So, yes, the value is there.

If you like this review, please read our other reviews about luxury watches at EvesWatch.com.