In a bold and daring move—something to which this independent Swiss watch brand is accustomed—Richard Mille recently revealed a delectable new line of watches geared toward women and men. Colorful, bright, and totally in the spirit of a child, the Bonbon collection consists of 10 models inspired by fanciful confections: gumballs, cupcakes, licorice, and other sweet delights.
The talk of the show at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva earlier this year, Bonbon is all about embracing the things that delight us in life. Each watch is created using a broad spectrum of candy-inspired colors, including lemon yellow, lime green, marshmallow pink, citrus orange, and so many more hues.
The collection was the brainchild of Cécile Guenat, artistic director for the brand. The daughter of Richard Mille copresident Dominique Guenat, she first collaborated with the company in 2018, when she created the RM 71-01 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman. According to Guenat, it was her desire to bring the spirit of childhood to haute horlogerie using art and craftsmanship. “The idea was to revisit the existing collections while playing with color,” she says. “This allowed me to bring out a Pop-inspired sense of fun. In all, we developed a palette of 60 colors for this unisex collection.”
Richard Mille, CEO of the eponymous firm, says that when Guenat brought the idea to him, he loved it immediately. Because the collection utilizes already existing watches and movements (iconic models such as the RM 07-03, RM 16-01, and RM 37-01), it was just a matter of using the brand’s extant artistic skills and expertise with materials and colors to execute the line. Make no mistake, though. This was no easy feat. Creating the spectrum of colors for each of the whimsical watches required a precise recipe that involved layering high-tech materials such as Carbon TPT (Thin Ply Technology) and Quartz TPT with graphic designs and bold colors. The collection even marks the debut of a new hue of turquoise not yet achieved in the technology.
The design and development of the line took more than 18 months, and the resulting 10 different models were each created in a limited edition of only 30 pieces. The Bonbon collection consists of a Fruit series and a Sweets series. The Fruit series visually emulates six marvelous flavors—lemon, strawberry, blueberry, litchi, kiwi, and cherry—naturally created using color-coordinated designs. The Sweets series recalls the cakes, marshmallows, lollipops, and other coveted candies of youth.
To whip up the three-dimensional look of the watches, a total of 3,000 miniature sculptures made of hand-painted titanium were concocted and integrated into the designs. The colors were achieved through a variety of methods depending on the watch, including the art of Grand Feu enamel, acrylic, and lacquer painting. The brand’s master artisans also developed a unique sugarcoating effect using fine sand and powdered enamel for certain watch parts. A black chrome coating creates the licorice and other black textures.
While the cases were crafted using tetragonal polycrystalline zirconia ceramic or Carbon TPT—depending on the model—the colors and accents were inspired by the individual confections: black licorice, gumballs, and more. The crowns on each of the watches echoes the sweet, such as a cupcake or swirled gelato, that is depicted on the movement parts, the case side colors, and dials. Richard Mille has even developed new colors of ceramic (including lavender pink and sky blue) for the bezels of certain watches.
“The watches are playful, colorful, and fun, yet totally respect the brand’s core values and non-compromising approach,” Mille says. “The demands on the painters were extraordinarily high, and everything has to look fabulous, even under the microscope. The team went so far as to even add visual sugarcoating on miniature sweets for realism. These timepieces are disruptive and daring on the outside, yet fully representative of very serious watchmaking skills on the inside. Most important for me is that these watches make people smile immediately with childish, secret pleasure. That’s a wonderful thing for a watch to do.”
As mentioned, each of these timepieces houses a highly complex Richard Mille movement that has been specially decorated for this flavorful collection. The watches retail from $122,500 to $158,000.