Recently, at the invitation of Richard Mille, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille. Held annually in the lace and equestrian region of France – not too far outside of Paris – this event is billed as a luxurious pastoral day in the country. And, the French certainly do understand the meaning of luxury and pastoral. With the Domaine de Chantilly chateau – complete with moat, towers, gardens, fountains and gargoyles – as the backdrop, the event is all about vintage cars, art, fashion and history. Attending is almost like stepping back in time.
People dress in wonderful attire, with hats and feathers as accessories. They open the trunks of their vintage cars and put on a lavish lawn picnic with champagne and china. This is no ordinary picnic. Even the picnic boxes are from the likes of Ascot Huntsman, Harrods, or Tiffany & Co. They are packed with crystal flutes and Limoges dishes and the spread is a blend of fruit, cheese, caviar and all of the delicacies one would expect to see at the finest outdoor wedding worthy of a castle setting.
For those fortunate enough, like myself, to be invited to the glamorous dinners – evenings are a culmination of the day. The first night we dined in the Great Stables – where the pampered horses enjoy incredible care. A living museum, the Great Stables is the largest stables in Europe and is a masterpiece of 18th century architecture.
Inside is an expansive wing where tables are set for dining, the Great Stables are awe inspiring with the cathedral ceilings of brick and stone. The Great Stables were built by architect Jean Aubert for Louis-Henri de Bourbon – and was meant to be the horses’ palace. Today there is a dedicated Museum of the Horse—inaugurated in 2013—that occupies 15 rooms of the Cours des Remisis in the stables. Dining in this majestic setting is an incomparable experience.
All of this made for the perfect backdrop for Richard Mille – title sponsor of the event – to showcase his newest RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph timepiece. Replacing the RM011 line that enjoyed nine years of success, the new pieces is an updated more modern twist on a favorite piece.
Keep in mind we have not gotten to wear the watch yet for any length of time to review it, but we did get to spend a few hours with it in Chantilly to inspect it. To begin with, the case has been fully modified. It is still tonneau-shaped, but it is now modernized with sportier more dynamic lines. Its curved crystal and bezel offers distinguished appeal that Richard Mille lovers have come to know and expect out of the brand’s sports watches.
Recalling the automotive spirit that Richard Mille loves to embrace (he is, after all, an avid car collector), the RM11-03 makes bold use of color, high-tech materials and auto-inspired design details. Tiny but time-consuming details comprise this watch. The crown emulates a wheel rim, with spokes and outer rim tabs, while the pushers on either side of the crown feature triple raised bars with indented grooves – precisely reminiscent of an automobile’s pedals.
The RMAC3 movement that powers the watch was several years in the design and development stages. It offers annual calendar, oversized date and flyback chronograph. It is equipped with two barrels, offers 55 hours of power reserve and house an updated variable geometry rotor made of Grade 5 titanium that winds according to the wearer’s activity level. The new watch is offered in gold ($160,000), gold and titanium ($130,000), and in blackened titanium ($115,000).
Surrounded on the lawn of the Chateau by vintage cars – including a few of Richard Mille’s cars – the watch fit right in, as its design is inspired by the automotive world.