For a watch store, you’d expect to see more timepieces on display. But then again, the Swiss luxury watch brand Richard Mille has never been one to do things too typically. That’s the case with its newly unveiled Richard Mille St Martin flagship in Singapore, the first of its kind and largest in the world for the brand, located just on the edge of Orchard Road.
The 700 square metre space, formerly a restaurant, is less a boutique and more a concept space. Conceived by the brand’s in-house architecture team from its Paris headquarters and built over three years, Richard Mille St Martin is said to be a physical embodiment of the brand founder’s headspace. “Our intention,” shared brand director Alexandre Mille, “was to play with visitors’ expectations.”
Entry to St Martin starts from a long corridor, which conceals the library hub of the space. It’s decked out like a living room—curved bookshelves stacked with art and design books line the walls, plush couches and armchairs dot the area. At the centre is a work by the French artist William Amor: an olive tree with its green leaves crafted from recycled plastic waste. It’s a nod to the South of France where Richard Mille grew up, and one of several Mediterranean design nods to the brand’s eponymous co-founder.
From the library is access to eleven spaces. At the heart is an open crafting space, where the brand’s watchmakers (there are four in Singapore) can take apart pieces and show the parts and movements off to clients with a magnified view on a screen. It’s said to be a focal point of the St Martin flagship, which puts this element of watchmaking front and centre for clients to better experience its creations.
But the rest of the spaces are more about hospitality and hanging out than just moving products. In fact, the only place you’ll really find any watches in is a modest showroom which features the brand’s signature animated watch glass facade. Instead, you’re probably going to be more enamoured by the dining room and open bar area, which can be serviced by a fully functioning kitchen; a sports room decorated with signed paraphernalia from the brand’s associated athletes (these were reportedly sourced and pulled from Richard Mille locations all over the world); a cosy outdoor riad, and a hidden library that’s accessed through an actual vault door.
This flagship, said brand and partnerships director Amanda Mille, is designed with a philosophy of “fostering human relationships”. Human connection is something of a theme as the brand transitions into second generation leadership: Amanda and Alexandre Mille are in place in key positions, as is Cécile Guenat, daughter of the brand’s co-founder Dominique Guenat, as director of creation and development. Even Guillaume Mille, one of the family’s other scions, is somewhat involved: several of his illustrations are hung throughout the space.
A clear way of understanding the direction with St Martin comes, fittingly, from another second gen-er: Bryan Tan, the executive director of Richard Mille Asia, emphasised that the concept centred around the “art of hospitality”. Consider it achieved. Fancy watch shops can be intimidating to even step into, but with its St Martin flagship, Richard Mille has actually made a space so cosy you’ll be reluctant to walk out of.