Despite the heavy rain, golfing stars Jessica and Nelly Korda arrived punctually at the Richard Mille boutique in Marina Bay Sands for a meet and greet session with guests and the media. The elegantly-dressed sisters brought their sunshine to the event. Their visit to Singapore had two purposes: Firstly, Jessica — Richard Mille’s latest partner — aims to shine a light on the RM 07-01 Racing Red timepiece, while the world number two, Nelly, would be sporting the new RM 07-04 Automatic Sport. Secondly, both sisters participated in last month’s 15th HSBC Women’s World Championship.
With the appointment of Jessica as a brand partner, she becomes the third family member to join Richard Mille. Nelly was appointed in 2017, while brother and rising tennis star Sebastian was named in 2022. The siblings understand what it means to come from a family of sportsmen and women, as their parents — Petr and Regina — were professional tennis players. They also know what they want from a brand before they sign on the dotted line.
Sitting in a quiet corner of the tastefully-furnished Richard Mille boutique at Marina Bay Sands, Nelly says: “It’s important that our visions are aligned, and for the brand, the family-oriented values resonated with me. It’s been six years since I’ve been a brand partner. During this time, I visited the factory as well. I have so much respect for this family-oriented culture of the brand.”
Jessica concurs: “For the brand to take a chance on all of us [the Korda siblings] meant a lot, especially since we’re a close family by nature. When it comes to how we view family, I think we also stand for what Richard Mille stands for.” In their capacity as brand partners, the sisters plan to use this platform to be more than a role model but promote the many qualities of the timepieces by winning over one person at a time.
When Richard Mille set out to create his eponymous brand 22 years ago, his vision was to create a brand that pushes technical boundaries with a modern approach to horology. In 2001, he released a timepiece with an ergonomic tonneau case featuring distinctive torque screws and a six-digit price tag to make his dream a reality. Customers recognised this first creation’s exceptional quality and visionary design, ensuring its success. After 20 years, the Richard Mille watch collection has grown to include over 80 models, all crafted with the same dedication and uncompromising principles that guided Mille’s initial endeavour.
Impressive technical achievements aside, the essence of the brand’s DNA is about excellence, perfection, and innovation — qualities that resonate with athletes. Richard Mille has always been closely associated with sports that drive the brand, from tennis to motor racing to golf. Drawing inspiration from female athletes, Richard Mille has created the RM 07-04 Automatic Sport, the first sports watch designed specifically for women. The RM 07-04 Automatic Sport is the smallest and lightest out of all female models created by the brand.
Jessica adds: “As athletes, excellence, perfection, and innovation are something we strive for constantly. Even in golf, we push the boundaries, so our approach to sports and the brand’s DNA is aligned. There’s a lot of synergy between us.” Nelly agrees and cites how much she appreciates the lightness of RM 07-04 Automatic Sport and “it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything on my wrist. I also love the colours of the entire collection and the skeletonised movement.” Also noteworthy is the stunning RM 07-01 Racing Red on Jessica’s wrist. The watch features an in-house Calibre CRMA2, an automatic skeletonised movement. Thanks to its harmonious design, ultra-light materials, and a curved case combining resistance and comfort in all circumstances.
Growing up Korda
Being a role model for younger girls who intend to take up professional golf, Jessica said last year on golf.com: “For me, other than winning and the normal stuff that everybody would say, is meeting all the kids that come out that are inspired to come back or pick up the game of golf. I think just seeing the twinkle in their eye every time they come out, and the interaction between them and us is one of my favourite things. Nelly summarises that the best thing is to be unique and stay true to yourself. Don’t just conform easily; don’t be afraid to stand out. Find your passion and follow it.
Similarly, Nelly says: “Keep practising your craft and remain humble and grateful. Don’t get too caught up with all the glitz and glamour that comes with the sport.” Just as aspiring golfers look up to the Korda sisters, they also have sporting icons they respect. When asked, they both promptly replied tennis legends, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Nelly says: “We love the elegance of Roger Federer and the drive that Rafael Nadal has. I greatly looked up to Nadal after watching him at the U.S. Open.”
With the impressive list of awards the Kordas have amassed, what exactly do all these mean to them? Jessica says: “Awards and accolades make it seem like a job well done, but it doesn’t feel like a job to us! We feel happy getting this chance to do what we do. For sports, though, awards are everything.”
Even with an impressive sporting curriculum vitae, the girls remain grounded. In 2013, Nelly passed the cut of the US Open at only 14 years old. Three years later, she turned professional. Success came quickly: Nelly won seven LPGA Tour events — including the famous LPGA Championship in 2021 — and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, becoming the world’s number-one golfer. At only 25, Nelly already has a prestigious record, happily writing some of the best pages in the book of family accomplishments.
Jessica started playing golf at eight and has since secured six LPGA Tour victories, with her first win at the Women’s Australian Open in 2012. She turned professional at the young age of 17 and quickly made her mark as a professional golfer. In 2021, Jessica and Nelly became the first sisters to win back-to-back LPGA events since 2000.
With a family background steeped in athletics, it is natural to wonder what dinner discussions are like. Jessica says: “At times, dinner conversations at home can be quite silent [at times] since we are usually too tired from training throughout the day. However, as siblings, all three of us are undoubtedly very competitive. When we were younger, we used to play video games, and even that would become fiercely competitive.”
As the guests arrived at the boutique, we inquired about the Korda sisters’ plans for the remainder of the year. Without any hesitation, they responded with a unanimous “busy.”
The RM 07-04 Automatic Sport packs a punch
Richard Mille gets its inspiration from high-level sportsmen and women’s brand partners. One example is the RM 07-04 Automatic Sport, where Richard Mille asked inspiring and influential athletes to share their experiences. With the attributes shared, the design was created to adapt to the constraints of their various sporting disciplines, and these timepieces can withstand the strains and performances of any sport.
It took three years to complete the design to ensure its optimal performance. The journey may be long as watchmakers face many challenges along the way. Some of these include developing a new, very compact, skeletonised in-house automatic movement that guarantees high shock resistance and seamless integration of the exterior with visible inner workings. The result is a dazzling array of colourful collections of timepieces that will catch the eye or be a conversation starter.
What we see in front of us is nothing short of spectacular as our eyes feast on cheerful, bold colour combinations. The colours, from black for the Carbon TPT model to cream white, mauve, salmon pink, green, or dark blue for the five Quartz TPT, are all these coupled by how light the watch is, along with ergonomically, visually, technically, and in terms of its performance — each watch in this collection is as pleasant to wear every day as it is suited to any intense sporting activity.
At 36 grams (the weight of a small apple), including its Velcro strap, the RM 07-04 Automatic Sport collection offers athletes the freedom to be at their best in their disciplines. This collection of six watches reflects the versatility and continuity in the growing world of women’s watches at Richard Mille.
The timepiece gets its energy from the CRMA8 calibre, a new in-house automatic movement with hours, minutes, and a function selector. Here’s the technical background: The assembly, the baseplate, and the bridges are made of grade 5 titanium, supplemented by a black PVD treatment. The movement underwent rigorous tests to confirm its resistance to 5,000 g’s of acceleration, a major feat for the most compact of all the calibres developed by Richard Mille.
Hand finishing includes polished angles, milled sections, micro-blasted sinks and satin-finished surfaces are added to enhance the elegance of its uncompromising mechanics and to improve the watch’s elegant look. The calibre’s compactness further accentuates the production’s quality, as it renders the assembly stage considerably more complex for the watchmaker, for whom there is not the slightest margin for error.
The function selector complication, emblematic of the brand, prevents stress on the winding stem. Combined with a Quartz TPT pusher at 4 o’clock, a simple press allows the user to choose between the neutral (N), winding (W), or time setting (H) positions. Its kinematics also are perfectly visible because its assembly is inverted compared to the brand’s other selectors. The hand at 5 o’clock indicates the chosen function on a flange in grade five titanium. A part as finely worked as those of the movement, this crucial element in the architectural aesthetics of the piece brings balance to the whole and contributes to the symbiosis between movement and decoration. Depending on the version, the case is crafted of Quartz or Carbon TPT.
Audrey Simon is an executive editor at The Edge Singapore.
This article first appeared on Apr 24, 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.