Richard Mille replica watches start at around $80,000 USD and go up to several million dollars in price for some of their more exotic timepieces. Richard Mille releases at least a few different $1,000,00+ watches per a year, and the average price of one of their tourbillon watches ranges from about $500,000–$800,000. These are enormous numbers even by luxury watch standards – so a very common question by consumers as well as others in the watch industry is “why are Richard Mille watches so expensive?”
Is it that Richard Mille products have that much inherent value and need to be priced that high? Or are there are other factors which allow the brand to (quite successfully) charge that much money for a single timepiece? I (and much of the our team members) have studied the Richard Mille brand for a while, spent time with their products, and also had the pleasure of getting to know a range of people at the company, including Mr. Richard Mille himself. It is with admiration that we attempt to unravel some of the branding secrets that have allowed Richard Mille to continue wowing its roster of elite customers with extremely expensive timepieces that they keep buying one after another.
Richard Mille himself is a key part of the brand’s special success. In may ways, without him the brand would not continue to be what it is today. I’ll spend a bit more time talking about how the Richard Mille man bolsters the efforts of the Richard Mille watch brand, but first a little of context. Richard Mille began his professional career in the watch industry during the beginning of the quartz crisis – a time when the traditional Swiss mechanical watch industry was heavily under threat from less expensive electronic quartz watches produced in Asia.
Richard Mille fake watches even worked for a company that was eventually sold to Seiko, one of the Japanese watch companies that not only was seen as a major enemy to the Swiss during this era (the Swiss have only recently begun to forgive the Japanese watchmakers), but was also one of a handful of companies aggressively trying to “buy up” many of the traditional watch brands. This time during the 1980s (especially the first half of the ’80s) was complicated and extremely transformational for the surviving traditional watch brands. For instance, at the time Switzerland had only 3% of the total share of watch sales around the globe. That 3% included almost entirely the top echelon of timepieces in terms of price. The implication was that the only watches the Swiss sold were luxury timepieces akin to jewelry (as opposed to tools) that were purchased by the very wealthy.
It was in this environment that Richard Mille copy watches not only learned the watch industry, but also gained his entrepreneurial spirit. In the early 1990s, he joined the French jewelry company Mauboussin as their head of watchmaking. Less than a decade later, the first Richard Mille-branded timepiece was released in 2001. Richard Mille quickly learned the importance of image, exclusivity, and lifestyle. He understood that while a high quality timepiece always has inherent value, most customers in the luxury sphere simply did not buy products because they were of a high quality. A special formula designed to create both demand and desire needed to be employed in order to ensure not only that customers purchased your luxury timepieces, but also that they kept coming back for more (despite becoming increasingly familiar with your brand).