For Amanda and Alexandre Mille, the brand their father built is a meeting point for their meandering personal journeys – and now they embark on a new adventure, hand in hand.
There are heirs apparent. Then there are Amanda and Alexandre Mille. The eldest and third of Richard Mille’s children, respectively, the siblings have lived a life far from the world of luxury. They never saw the powerhouse their father built as a place where they would someday belong. “We grew up very separate from this side of our father’s world. In fact, I was oblivious to the significance of the brand before I started working in the company,” recalls Alexandre, who wore G-Shocks and Flik Flak watches in his youth. The watchmaking company was simply Dad’s “secret garden”, in Amanda’s words. “He never spoke about it while we were spending time together.”
“We were lucky,” says Amanda. She has seen how the burden of legacy weighs on others. “The brand was never waiting for us, and we weren’t waiting for the brand. Our involvement just happened naturally.” In the first instance, Amanda was carving out her own career in various areas of the hospitality trade by the time her father founded the company in 2001. Despite being the eldest, joining – let alone leading – the company never crossed her mind. Alexandre, who holds a degree in law and political science, went to film school, inspired by the films of Stanley Kubrick to specialise in directing.
Their separate journeys leading towards the management of their father’s eponymous company – with Amanda as the brand and partnerships director, and Alexandre as the brand director – are not directed by a lust for power or wealth. “We were encouraged to live our own lives, discover more about ourselves, and find out what we want in life – what makes us happy,” shares Alexandre. And it is precisely this pursuit of happiness that brought them, albeit in a roundabout way, to their father’s company.
Come As You Are
With a ready and radiant smile, her most eye-catching accessory, Amanda exudes reassuring warmth and a magic ability to make all problems dissipate over a dish fresh from the oven. Indeed, care and nurture are roles this mother of four plays in her private life, including at family gatherings, where she is often to be found cooking and feeding everybody. But the family she manages professionally extends far beyond those with whom she shares a surname.
Amanda handles the company’s growing network of over 80 partners, spanning trailblazers in sports to Hollywood royalty. The relationships also go beyond merely transactional: she talks to each member of this extended family directly and personally. She knows their spouses and their children. “I love to be around people and look out for them – though it’s by no means easy! But it’s these one-to-one relationships, and this human part of our business that I am the happiest to be involved in.”
A career in hospitality and services has given her a deep insight into the power of human connection. Thus, in 2014, when her father approached her about helping to engage female consumers in the Middle East, the role made sense. “I realised that there was something I could bring to the brand and that I was not joining the company simply because of my family name – something we never wanted.” In fact, Amanda and Alexandre continue to introduce themselves by their first names only, even in work situations.
After growing the women’s share of the Middle East market from 4 per cent to 30 per cent during the three years she was based in Dubai, Amanda returned to Paris in 2018 to manage the brand’s growing network of partners, alongside initiatives such as the creation, in 2020, of the first 100 per cent female motorsport team in the LMP2 category to compete the World Endurance Championship. Currently, she is on a mission to take the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille, an all-women open-road race of collector cars, out of France and into the world, with the first US edition of the event coming in 2024.
Like his eldest sister, Alexandre’s road towards the Richard Mille brand was a winding path guided by passion and chance. The director was working at a production company that created 3D videos broadcast during a Swiss watch fair formerly known as the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). Then, in 2013, his father tapped his expertise to create a video division for the brand, designing and directing tutorials to help sales staff understand the complexity of the watch mechanisms, and filming brand partners such as the McLaren F1 team and polo player Pablo Mac Donough.
Drawn deeper into the world of haute horology by the technical complexities and artistry of the craft, which appealed to both his creative side and analytical nature, Alexandre went on to join the brand’s business partner, John Simonian, in charge of the Americas. There, his experiences ran the gamut from internal and external relationship building to inventory management, distribution and training. In 2018, he began overseeing management and sales at the brand’s head office. Since 2023, he has been based in Switzerland and manages commercial operations from the Richard Mille manufacture in Les Breuleux.
If Amanda is fire with her unreserved radiance, Alexandre is water with his duality and quiet power. This duality also translates to a versatility that he applies to his work. He has a deep interest in the arts, yet he is also the numbers person in the company. “I always loved the arts – and I love analysis. In fact, I am always over-analysing everything, from paintings to firms to shapes and forms,” he shares. “Then my dad told me that the thing with numbers is that they all tell a story. With that perspective, I am able to analyse them and see the flow behind the data, and the solutions that they can lead to.”
“I always loved the arts – and I love analysing it. In fact, I am always over analysing everything, from paintings to firms to shapes and forms.” – Alexandre Mille
There is an enigmatic element to his brilliance, especially his myriad inspirations and ideas. For him, the uber-minimalist, the ultra-thin 1.75mm RM UP-01 produced in collaboration with Ferrari is the most significant model to date. It wasn’t just because the piece held the world in awe for its technical breakthroughs, but that it “surprised everybody who thought it was going to be a chronograph with a tonneau shape.”
The Talisman Origine created for the Only Watch charity auction also deserves mention here. It’s a neck-worn tourbillon watch with ancient tribal aesthetics, accompanied by a fantastical meta-story of a shaman relic discovered in Switzerland’s Jura Mountains. The teams wove an entire universe out of pure imagination, one that yielded a material object, adding to the sum of existence. “Just as an artist pours himself into his work, the watches my father brought forth were a product of his mind: all his sources of inspiration, how he digests and interprets them, and how he translates them into the timepieces. They are everything that he is,” observes Alexandre. Given how he injects every bit of his multifaceted self into the latest Richard Mille projects, it appears that some things just run in the family.
Certainly, Richard Mille remains a family-owned business. Apart from the duo, Alexandre’s older brother Dimitri managed and developed the company’s brand identity for many years until 2020, while another sibling, Guillaume, has spent almost a decade at the company and now works on its brand videos. Turning to Richard Mille’s longstanding associate, Dominique Guenat, he, too, has his family to succeed him. His daughter Cécile heads up creation and development and his son Maxime serves as a general director. Both are based at the manufacture in Les Breuleux.
Since the initial release of the RM 001 Tourbillon in 2001, the creations from the Swiss factory in Les Breuleux have been hailed as nothing short of revolutionary. From their modernist aesthetics to the radical technologies and innovative use of avant-garde materials, each uncompromising release is a rebellious disruptor with a seismic effect on the horological universe.
The ripples of this deep impact reach even further due to the extraordinary figures who wear these pieces. Engineered for extreme performance and supreme lightness, Richard Mille is the first brand to be worn by elite athletes in action. Think Formula 1 race driver Felipe Massa, a brand partner since 2006, and legendary tennis pro Rafael Nadal, brand partner since 2010. Nadal is a person with countless rituals and cautious of anything that might mar his performance on the court – that is, until he encountered the featherlight RM 027 Tourbillon.
The wristwatches’ association with grit and greatness gives them an epic quality that resonates with an even wider audience, from the multi-discipline artist Pharrell Williams to best actress Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh. Beyond their cultural significance: the 5,300 units produced annually, an increase of 5 per cent per year, generate estimated annual revenues of 1.3 billion Swiss francs (S$1.95 billion) according to Morgan Stanley’s latest annual report on the Swiss watch industry.
This makes the 23-year-old company the sixth-largest luxury watchmaker in the world, just after centuries-old Patek Philippe. Says Amanda about her relationship with her brother, “Our superpower is that not only do we know and trust in each other’s skills, we think about the same things, at the same time. It’s been that way forever.”
Working under the patriarch’s wings for close to a decade is what has fully aligned their vision. Perhaps, as their father’s children, the family values they have inherited are strong enough to steer the duo towards unanimous decisions without, by their own admission, ever getting into an argument. Perhaps they are old souls who have known each other for countless lifetimes. Perhaps their shared commitment to upholding a legacy of innovation and daring has attuned them to the same frequency.
“Our superpower is that not only do we know and trust in each other’s skills, we think about the same things, at the same time. It’s been that way forever.” – Amanda Mille
“It is easy to make decisions when you have a good overview of every aspect of the business, from marketing to finance to events and social media” explains Alexandre.
The privilege of steering the company alongside family who share similar experiences, values and vision further allows Alexandre and Amanda to keep the brand nimble and in a class of its own. “Keeping it in the families allows us to make decisions fast and be adaptable. That is the superpower of the brand,” says Alexandre.
To clarify, family is each and every person involved in making Richard Mille what it is today. “My father has always trusted his intuition with people, and we surround ourselves with genuine people and trust in them,” shares Alexandre. Their partners do not have contracts that dictate when, where, and how often they need to show up with their watch. “We’re not satisfied just checking boxes with assistants, managers and lawyers – the actual person has to be a good fit,” Amanda confesses. More than exposure, Richard Mille seeks a connection that lasts beyond contractual clauses.
“It is not easy to find somebody who is genuine, who has no ego, and is as passionate as we are. It is not about who is trendy. In fact, we are there for our partners throughout the ups and downs of their careers, and that makes us stronger as a family with a real, honest and beautiful relationship.”
For this extended family, they have even built a new home in Singapore: St. Martin. Opened in October 2023 in a location that sits between the prime lifestyle belt of Orchard Road and the exclusive Nassim Road residential enclave, it is the first such Richard Mille concept in the world. Just as a home tells the story of one’s life and identity, the 700sqm venue, with interconnected spaces as diverse as a hidden library and a sports bar, is an invitation to deep-dive into the world of Richard Mille.
Behind the high-end design – some 30 specialists and artisans worked on the spaces, while French visual artist William Amor provided the sculptural work of an olive tree – the inspiration for St. Martin came from the humble kitchen. “Our Paris office has an amazing kitchen, and that’s where we spend most of our time, with a cup of tea or over a good meal,” shares Amanda. “The same is true of our own house, coming from a big family. And it occurred to us that a communal place like this is where people can create new worlds among themselves.”
Thus, the true heart of St. Martin is perhaps not the impressive open crafting space, where the art of watchmaking is on display thanks to the brand’s four Singapore-based watchmakers. Rather, it is the sports bar. “This was Dad’s idea,” shares Alexandre. “To have a cosy place like a traditional sports bar, where you can watch a race or a competition on TV while eating a burger and fries in comfortable clothes. A place where you have a good time around shared passions.”
“To have a cosy place like a traditional sports bar, where you can watch a race or a competition on TV while eating a burger and fries in comfortable clothes. A place where you have a good time around shared passions.” – Alexandre Mille on Richard Mille St. Martin
This grounded people-focus has been at the heart of business right from the beginning, with Richard “taking it to the extreme”. He remains absolutely faithful to those who helped him at the very beginning, and all those who are somehow characters in this unfolding story, Alexandre reveals. “In everything he did, my father behaved as a dad would for his family. He never took his business decisions from reading marketing books. He did it with his heart, trusting in the people who believed in us 23 years ago when we were this crazy project – and who still trust and follow us today.”
So, it is with their hearts that the siblings are guiding the company into the future. “The pressure of legacy is largely on those who isolate themselves, worrying about who is going to back-stab them,” says Alexandre sagely. Far from hoarding responsibility, he and Amanda are proud to share the burden of carrying the brand forward with the 650 shoulders working in the company – people who would go through fire and water for them, people they trust to keep them humble, just like family.
Fashion Direction: JOHNNY KHOO
Art Direction: AUDREY CHAN
Photography: WEE KHIM
Fashion Styling: JACQUIE ANG
Hair: RICK YANG/ARTISTRY STUDIOS, using KMS HAIR
Make-Up: KEITH BRYANT LEE, using CLÉ DE PEAU BEAUTE
Photography Assistance: IVAN TEO
Fashion Assistance: SIT SHI JIE
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