The Swiss luxury watchmaking brand's support for sportswomen runs the gamut from Olympic champions to up-and-coming talents

While partnerships are par for the course in the world of luxury watches, Richard Mille stands out for both its breadth and depth. From sponsoring iconic events such as Le Mans Classic race in France to working with the Palais de Tokyo centre for contemporary art in Paris, the brand’s partnerships span sports, entertainment and the arts.

Corporate partners including McLaren Automotive and Airbus Corporate Jets further reinforce this, as do individuals, each at the pinnacle of their respective fields. A quick glance through the latter group reveals a common thread running through them: each individual isn’t just a leader in their chosen field, but also carries a brand of audacity Richard Mille clearly identifies with as a maverick in this business.

1. The Snow Queen

Czech athlete Ester Ledecká is an Olympic gold medallist in two distinctly separate disciplines: alpine skiing and snowboarding. In the world of winter sports, athletes competing at the highest levels are expected to specialise to maximise their medal chances. Ledecká, however, came out left of field to prove that what was previously an unquestioned notion doesn’t quite hold true. She accomplished this feat at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where she won gold medals in the parallel giant slalom in snowboarding and the super-G in alpine skiing. Before Ledecká, only Russian athlete Anfisa Reztsova had won gold medals in different events, and even then, only in separate editions of the Winter Olympics.
Ledecká managed this sporting achievement not just with hard work and tenacity, but also audacity. She said of her approach, “Since I was 14, I’ve had these kinds of discussions with my coaches. I would say, ‘No, I want to practise both, and if it bothers you, I’ll find another coach because that’s how I’ll do it.’” The 24-year-old has been road‑testing the RM 007 Titanium and is expected to start wearing a prototype of the RM 67-02 Automatic Extra Flat soon.

2. Jill of All Trades

Nafissatou “Nafi” Thiam is a Belgian track and field athlete, who specialises in combined events. She has snagged medals steadily since 2013 in both the heptathlon and pentathlon, with one highlight being her gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She’s also ranked third in the list of top all-time heptathletes. This follows her gold medal at the 2018 European Athletics Championships, which makes her only the third woman to win the heptathlon “trinity”: the Olympic Games, IAAF World Championships and European Athletics Championships.
Thiam also made a conscious decision to skip the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships in March that year. She considered it part of her overall progression as an athlete who is more focused on personal records instead of medals or victories. It was this very attitude that endeared her to Richard Mille, who praised her “vision and approach to performance”. It was also this attitude that saw the 24-year-old Belgian being named as Richard Mille’s first female athlete ambassador.

3. Hole in One

Nelly Korda joined the Richard Mille family this past February, in yet another step of a startlingly quick progression for this young golfer, who had only turned professional three years ago. The 20-year-old American comes from a family of athletes—both her parents were professional tennis players, while her sister and brother are professionals in golf and tennis, respectively. Since turning professional in 2016, Korda has racked up four top-five finishes on the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour. This places her in tenth spot in the Women’s World Golf Rankings as of May this year, with much potential to progress even further, of course. Korda doesn’t just wear Richard Mille watches, but is also currently involved in the development of a women’s collection for the brand. While there is no news as to what the collection might be, it will most certainly be a sporty piece that leverages on Richard Mille’s expertise in creating shock‑resistant movements.

4. Rising Star

Yuliya Levchenko’s meteoric rise in high jump is an astonishing feat—the Ukrainian athlete improved her competition results from 1.70m to 2.01m in a span of just four years, with the latter earning her a silver medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Because of this, Levchenko was also named the European Athletics Rising Star of the Year in 2017. Her appointment as an athlete partner of Richard Mille mirrors several other rising stars and demonstrates the brand’s keen eye for talent. This endorsement also points to her vast potential to better her sporting results, and Richard Mille’s determination to support her endeavours. Levchenko competes with an RM 07-01 Automatic Ladies in Carbon TPT on her wrist. 

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