Amanda Mille is focused on building the 'Richard Mille family'

Richard Mille brand and partnerships director Amanda Mille talks about the close-knit ‘family’ of brand partners. — Photos: Richard Mille

For the past 20 years, the importance of the human connection has been an integral part of the Richard Mille brand identity, with a keen focus on building the “Richard Mille family”.

This close community is a tight circle of “friends of the brand” which includes the likes of footballer Didier Drogba, race car driver Fernando Alonso, actress Michelle Yeoh, tennis star Rafael Nadal and artiste Pharrell Williams, and many more.

Through the creation of this group of brand partners, several milestones have been achieved, most notably the practice of having their watches worn by athletes during sporting tournaments, which was not a norm in the past.

Richard Mille timepieces are worn by athletes in many disciplines, including Formula One racing, tennis, golf, equestrian sports, track and field, and extending even to the performing arts. Recently, many international athletes donned Richard Mille watches during their respective events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

In her capacity as brand and partnerships director, Amanda Mille, the eldest daughter of founder Richard Mille, manages relations with customers, VIPs and partners at both international and private events in which the brand takes part.

Forging friendships and building these partnerships with notable personalities involves cultivating personal connections.

Show jumping rising star Flore GiraudShow jumping rising star Flore Giraud

“I love people and I am passionate about excellent food, so for many years I had originally planned to open a restaurant before I began to work for the brand,” relates Amanda in an email interview with Life Inspired.

“This is a personal ‘life lesson’ because I clearly saw that when people share an excellent meal and spend time together, they automatically connect in a much deeper and more meaningful way than they would within the context of a business gathering.

“Maybe this is hard wired into my French character, but this is probably the reason why the first serious contact with a new partner seems to always take place around a good meal!”

Another lesson Amanda learned from watching her father at work was that a good sense of humour and the ability to share a laugh or two together are key components to building lasting relationships.

“I have many fond memories of afternoons and evenings spent together with our different partners that were truly memorable experiences. It brought us closer together and deepened our collaborative passion,” she recalls.

More than partners

The brand considers personalities first and foremost as friends.

Amanda believes that personal contact and belief in each other are an integral aspect of the partnerships.

“In other words, we are looking for real contact, interaction and feedback from the partners we work with and that I love to call ‘partners of life’.”

To Amanda, partnerships aren’t just about strapping a watch onto a personality’s wrist and posing for a photo shoot – the relationship runs much deeper than this.

Freediving champion Arnaud Jerald Freediving champion Arnaud JeraldWhether it’s on the tennis court, racetrack or fields of different competitive sports, brand partners are wearing these watches under real life conditions, which means they are designed to be functional and wearable, as well as good-looking.

“This method of working led us to develop watches for extreme conditions during competitions, for example, movements with high shock resistant, watches with G sensors, not to mention a series of ultra-light watches and more such specialist models,” she explains. “Without such close cooperation with our partners, these watches would never have come into existence.”

Brand partners and Richard Mille share a passion for constantly pushing the limits and boundaries of their respective fields of expertise, with a relentless spirit of out-performing oneself, which complements the brand’s ceaseless drive for innovation.

“We look for passionate people dedicated to breaking the mould of their respective disciplines with the aim of achieving success. Since we want to work together in a highly personalised and collaborative manner, we of course have to click in a natural way so that we can trust and inspire each other to new levels,” says Amanda.

Recent partnerships that were formed were with free-diver Arnaud Jerald, equestrian show-jumpers Carlos Hank Gurreiro and Flore Giraud, and music composer Thomas Roussel.

“Without these kinds of very essential characteristics, a collaborative relationship cannot really be built up in a fruitful or enjoyable way for either of us, because people are at the core of why we create the kinds of watches that we do.”

Track and field athlete Mutaz Essa BarshimTrack and field athlete Mutaz Essa BarshimDue to the pandemic and restrictions on travel, and in-person interactions, gatherings and soirees took a back seat for over a year, but Amanda hopes they will soon be able to return to holding events at the Le Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille, Le Mans Classic and the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille. The unprecedented situation led the brand to adapt by expanding their means of communication to maintain the relationships with their clients, press and partners by way of exclusive digital exchanges, interviews, as well as meetings and exchanges held virtually.

“When the situation allowed it again, we started slowly to hold local and small-scale events, saving the possibility of larger events for 2022 when we hope the situation will have become more normalised,” says Amanda.

Forging her own path

Growing up, watches were always a part of the family’s home life, however a career path in the industry was not a given nor an expectation.

“My father really felt very strongly that we each had to make our own choices in an organic manner without any pressure to conform,” says Amanda, who ran her own restaurant before spending four years in Dubai as head of the Richard Mille Privilege Department, catering to female customers.

In her current role, her genuine interest in working with different kinds of people and her knack her organisation fuel her everyday dealings and tasks.

“Every day I am in touch with our partners, supporting them in the background with logistics, helping to plan and organise, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly,” explains Amanda. “I see everyone as a member of the family, so this also means that when the going gets tough I am also the person offering a shoulder to lean on or a positive word of encouragement to raise spirits, so you can say my mission is very multifaceted.”

Music composer Thomas RousselMusic composer Thomas Roussel

In her opinion, ideal leadership is shown in the most subtle manner, through leading by example, as something instinctively understood rather than stated openly.

As a leader, Amanda finds it truly rewarding when clients and partners leave the brand’s events with smiles on their faces, having enjoyed themselves immensely.

“And of course, the victories of our partners during competitions. You have seen with the recent victory for McLaren Racing at the Monza Grand Prix or the incredible streak of gold medals for Nafi Thiam (Belgian heptathlete), Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (German Olympic dressage rider), Nelly Korda (American golfer) and Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatari track and field athlete) at the Tokyo Olympics this summer or the world record last summer of Arnaud Jerald,” Amanda expresses.“In that aspect 2021 has been an excellent year for our partners and the brand.”

Championing women in racing

The watch brand has been heavily involved in automotive culture through its major partnerships such as Le Mans Classic and Nurburgring Classic, the establishment of prestigious events like Le Rallye des Legendes Richard Mille and the Chantilly Arts et Elegance Richard Mille, and its association with Formula One teams throughout the years.

Richard Mille’s passion for the sport led to the creation of the Richard Mille Racing Team in 2020, made up of all-female drivers.

This year’s drivers are among today’s most promising hopefuls: Dutch GT winner and runner up in the all-female W series Beitske Visser; German driver German Sophia Flörsch who has raced in Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship, European F3, and Formula 4; and Colombian Alfa Romeo F1 test driver Tatiana Calderon, who participated in the ultra-competitive Japanese Super Formula championship.

As the racing team’s manager, Amanda has high hopes for the future of women in the sport.

The Richard Mille Racing team: Tatiana Calderon, Sophia Florsch and Beitske Visser with the Oreca 07-Gibson.The Richard Mille Racing team: Tatiana Calderon, Sophia Florsch and Beitske Visser with the Oreca 07-Gibson.

“You know, women have always been underrepresented in the automotive world, which is sad,” expresses Amanda. “Let’s face it, racing in general is really viewed by many people as a masculine sport, and it sometimes takes great effort to be taken seriously when promoting women in this field, which I find at times rather frustrating.”

“At the same time, I do see that these efforts are bearing fruit in changing the perception of women’s racing, so I am convinced that the support we provide is the right way to continue in order to change perceptions.”

Despite the emergence of new female talents in the last decade, their access to the highest echelons remains challenged, with women rarely making it to the top teams.

“It is really my goal to see that women get all the support they need from us or others, as well as cutting-edge cars and materials, and top professional technical track support, now and in the coming years,” Amanda says.

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