Richard Mille breaks all the rules. Where other modern-era brands aspire to antiquity, Mille does not pretend to have ancient roots; he did not buy an old name – he uses his own. While others tout their manufacture status, Mille employs leading manufacturers to produce components and to assemble his groundbreaking movements. While other brands embrace classic design or strive for broad aesthetic acceptance, Mille’s designs are unmistakable and bold: you either like them, or you don’t. There are no focus groups here, just a man and a vision.
In less than ten years, Mille has risen from a tiny start-up to a globally-recognized and distributed brand. Sales have increased every year, even during the recent unpleasantness. In 2010, Mille officially made it to the big time, debuting at the SIHH next to revered and powerhouse brands including Audemars Piguet, Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, and Vacheron Constantin. Compared with these industry giants, Mille’s production is ultra-exclusive: about 2000 pieces in 2009, fewer than 2500 in 2010, and perhaps as many as 2800 for 2011. Some large manufacturers produce that many watches in less than a week. Mille’s long-term target is 5,000 pieces per year, and no more.
Against this background, Mille recently opened his first USA boutique, and WatchTime attended the January 6 press preview. The boutique embodies Mille’s penchant for exclusivity: few retail enterprises devote so many high-value square feet to so few display pieces. Mille commented “We like to give each piece the space it deserves.”
The Beverly Hills location, at 222 North Rodeo Drive, is the brainchild of Mille’s U.S.A. distributor, John Simonian and his company Ildico, which is just down the street, as is Simonian’s retail store Westime. The lovely pedestrian-only way brings your favorite European shopping streets to mind.
Simonian also distributes Urwerk and Greubel Forsey, so his focus is clearly on unique timepieces offering the highest quality craftsmanship. According to Simonian, Miami and New York may be in line for Mille boutiques. When they open, they will probably look something like this…
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The Richard Mille Boutique Beverly Hills is located at 222 Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, California, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.