Is the Richard Mille Alain Prost watch the ultimate luxury cycling accessory?
Given French-born watchmaker Richard Mille’s predilection for all things automotive and his company’s relentless A-list matchmaking, perhaps the biggest surprise of the new £786,000 RM70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost is that it’s taken Mille 18 years to bring France’s only F1 world champion into the family.
The second is that that the watch is not inspired by Prost’s record-breaking career in Grand Prix Motor racing (he won four world championships between 1985 and 1994 with McLaren and then Williams) but by cycling. Prost already had won three world titles when he first got on a bike in 1993, having been fired from Ferrari the year before. Cycling was a way to keep himself in shape during the subsequent sabbatical year. He would go on to win that fourth title 1994 with the Williams team.
The largest watch Richard Mille have yet made, the asymmetric RM70-01 features compound curves and is razor slim. Mille is an advocate of wearing watches on the right and not the left arm to better keep the crown wheel from making contact with the wrist, and the RM70-01 is specifically designed be worn on the right with the crown nearer the elbow; so less likely to dig in when a rider hunkers down behind his or her drop-downs.
It’s notionally more aerodynamic this way also - the shape was pioneered on the RM61-01 developed with Jamaican sprinter Johan Blake, but of course what it really is, like all Mille’s celebrity pieces, is a kind of narrative.
The Prost’s own distinct complication is an "odometer" where keen cyclists can manually enter their daily mileages (originally logged no doubt on their Apple-watch enabled Strava app). The mechanism is borrowed from the Erotic Tourbillon of 2015, the first watch in the world to talk filth to its owners, the so-called RM69.
And indeed "The Prost" comes with its own bicycle, a gift from the company to the 30 buyers of the strictly limited piece - a carbon fibre Colnago C-60, complete with carbon wheels and the company’s own electronically-actuated groupset, and worth around £10,000.
Cycling joins motorsport, tennis, golf, athletics, polo and skiing on the roster of Mille’s personal sporting fascinations brought to life and brought to market via technologically innovative watches; the shock-proof Tourbillon technology in the Prost watch first saw the light of day in 2014 in the RM38 -01 developed with golfer Bubba Watson which featured a g-sensor capable of measuring up to 20g of swing. A later piece, the RM35-02 developed with Rafa Nadal is said to be capable of withstanding 10,000g.
On a bike that’s one hell of a big accident, ensuring the watch mechanism would survive you, a notion that’s slight antithetical to Mille’s forward looking, YOLO approach but yet another talking point on a mesmerising masterpiece from the king of content-rich, micro-mechanical super-bling.
This article was first published in The Telegraph
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