The ultra-high-end watch brand, Richard Mille, is known for using cutting-edge materials and technologies. But when it comes to one of its favourite sporting activities, it is going way back in time.
Making its debut in June, the Richard Mille Cup will see 15 yachts, dating from the late 19th century to the 1930s, competing in a series of inshore and offshore races between Great Britain and France. “Classic yachts bear a living, breathing testimony to the highest values of workmanship, heritage and tradition passed on to us through centuries,” Richard Mille, the founder of the eponymous brand, explains.
The Swiss company is no newcomer to the world of maritime sports. Aside from sponsoring the historical Fife regatta, it has also been a key partner of the Caribbean regatta Les Voiles de St Barth since the latter was launched in 2010.
Setting the right tone for the brand’s prestigious new competition, a trophy was specially commissioned. A striking metre- tall piece of art with sail-like sculptural panels, the perpetual trophy is designed by Garrard & Co, renowned for being jewellers to the British Royal Family for centuries. They designed sports trophies such as the first America’s Cup 170 years ago. Winners of the Richard Mille Cup will receive 40cm replicas of the trophy, also handcrafted by Garrard.
Other horology brands betting big on sailing
TAG HEUER: FlyingNikka
There are boats, and then there is FlyingNikka — a yacht with a hull made of carbon-fibre composites and state-of-the- art hydrofoils. It is also the watercraft with which Tag Heuer is choosing to make a return to the world of sailing. This follows previous partnerships with America’s Cup and sailing outfits such as Team Oracle.
Able to hit speeds of up to 40 knots, FlyingNikka has participated in or will be racing at several major events this year. To reflect this partnership, the yacht prominently bears the Tag Heuer logo, while the crew sports Tag Heuer-branded clothing and Aquaracer Solargraph solar-powered watches.
ULYSSE NARDIN: The Ocean Race
Probably the world’s most challenging team sailing competition, The Ocean Race is a round-the-world yacht race with a strong environmental slant. While sailing 60,000km around the globe, including isolated regions, the teams help to gather marine data that is analysed to assess the health of the water. This year, The Ocean Race marks its 50th anniversary.
In March, the event’s official timekeeper, Ulysse Nardin, launched The Ocean Race Diver Chronograph to mark this milestone. The 44mm sandblasted black DLC titanium watch features a unidirectional bezel topped with Carbonium — a carbon composite containing fibres upcycled from aeroplane fuselage offcuts.
With its history of supplying timepieces to the Italian navy, it’s no surprise then that Panerai takes its nautical history seriously. So much so that its booth at Watches and Wonders Geneva earlier this year featured an installation of sails inspired by Eilean. That’s the name of the classic ship, built in 1936, restored by the brand, and relaunched in 2009. Eilean now serves as one of the brand’s symbols.
Additionally, Panerai has also been a partner of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team since 2017. The pairing has yielded several co-branded limited-edition timepieces over the years.