‘From the start, it was a mutual respect for each other’s artistry. I don’t think you can represent a brand if you don’t believe in their values. Take what he’s doing now for young artists, helping them to push their boundaries. Thats the person I know, and the person that I’ve come to love and admire.’
It was the friendship between Jean Todt and Richard Mille that led to his encounter with Michelle Yeoh, the internationally renowned actress. Richard, who functions on instinct, immediately fell under the spell of the actress’s personality a little over ten years ago.
He was impressed by her artistic talents, her knowledge and understanding of women’s’ taste and her natural sense of luxury. He therefore suggested that they create two jewellery pieces specifically for women together, the RM 051 and RM 51-01 Tourbillon.
She was already a superstar in Asia, with over thirty films to her credit when her role in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997 propelled her onto the international scene as a Hollywood star. Her passion for martial arts, ranging from karate to kung fu leads her to decline a stunt double for most fights and acrobatic scenes in movies.
Today, Michelle may well be the most prolific Asian actress of all time. And perhaps the finest as well. It’s certainly a grandiose statement, but one that’s becoming easier to justify with every movie she makes. 2018’s blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians is the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last 10 years. In her role as the icy matriarch Eleanor Young, she is onscreen for no more than ten minutes, yet it was her performance that gained the plaudits—and in a role far removed from what we’ve come to expect from her.
‘The first present I ever received from my dad was a watch. And then the first significant thing I ever bought myself was a watch, and my love grew from there. used to only wear very big, masculine watches, because for me it is a statement. A watch isn’t just about telling the time. I don’t agree that women should only wear small watches.’
When asked what Yeoh thinks drew Richard to her, her answer comes easily. ‘We share the same artistic values and principles. Richard chooses his ambassadors based on the values they represent—the same ones he wants his brand to be associated with. Be that elegance, determination, integrity or any number of specific things.’ In the case of Yeoh, this could indeed be any number of specific things, not least her passion for humanitarian causes. Since 2016, she has been working with the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), helping to spread the word about the organisation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly striving for gender equality and the fight to end poverty. She also continues to raise awareness for the ICM Brain and Spine Institute.