When the avant-garde watchmaker Richard Mille partnered with the Formula One legend Alain Prost, watch fans probably expected a cool, motor sport-inspired timepiece. After all, those were the kinds of watches that the Richard Mille brand produced in collaborations with the Formula One drivers Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean and Jean Todt, a former chief executive at Ferrari.
But the new RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost is dedicated to cycling.
“I like to go where people don’t expect,” said Mr. Mille, whose creations have been inspired by sports from golf to sailing. “I want to surprise.”
The watch, which took three years to develop and was introduced last month, features a mechanical odometer that can record distances up to 99,999 kilometers (62,136 miles). Mr. Mille — who, like Mr. Prost, is an avid cyclist — said the idea for the new complication came from his bike racing friends who “every time were totally unable to tell me how many kilometers they’d covered since the season began.”
The case is made of Carbon TPT, or Thin Ply Technology, a shock-resistant industrial material used in the aeronautics industry, and blends three shapes — tonneau (a Richard Mille signature), rectangular and asymmetrical — for comfort and legibility while gripping a bicycle’s handlebars. Features include a manual winding tourbillon, 70-hour power reserve and a titanium baseplate and bridges that recall bicycle frames.
Mr. Prost, the four-time world champion who retired from Formula One in 1993, had been asked over the years to collaborate on motor sport-related timepieces. But, he said, “I never wanted to give my name to a product where I didn’t feel comfortable.” He has known Mr. Mille for more than 15 years; the watchmaker is a partner in the Formula E Renault E.Dams team, where Mr. Prost is a co-director.
The watch is a limited edition of 30 pieces — and those who find the $815,500 price a bit steep may take comfort in knowing it comes with a bespoke carbon road bike by the Italian maker Colnago.
Mr. Mille hopes the partnership will get his clients on the saddle, even if they don’t ride as often as he does. “I absolutely don’t know how many kilometers I’ve cycled this year,” admitted the watchmaker, who now rides mostly on weekends. “So I’m expecting to get my own watch soon.” MING LIU