Richard Mille has joined forces with Louvre Abu Dhabi on a new annual exhibition in the UAE. With an aim to showcase the best of contemporary talent, the Swiss watchmaking brand has also launched the Richard Mille Art Prize. The exhibition, titled Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here, will take place from November 2021 until March 2022, and see four to six artists selected through an open call for proposals, with each exhibiting their artwork in the Forum, a space of interaction within Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Following their submissions, one of these artists will be awarded the Richard Mille Art Prize, which comes with a cash reward of US $50,000. This year’s call for proposals invites submissions from Emirati and UAE-based artists around the theme of Memory, Time, and Territory in time for UAE’s upcoming 50-year celebrations. This allows artists to reflect on the country’s legacy as a territory. Proposals are accepted until August 31, and those shortlisted by international art experts will be announced later.
Ahead of the prize, Vogue Arabia enlisted two artists, Rahat Kunakunova and Fuad Ali from Duette Studio, to put their creative spin on our photo shoots of Richard Mille’s timepieces for women. The range of RM 07-01 watches, alongside the RM 037 Automatic Watch, features two new models: the RM 07-01 Automatic Starry Night, with its gem-set star motifs, and the RM 07-01 Automatic, with a chain-link bracelet arrayed in red gold and Carbon TPT® (thin ply technology). All three models are housed in the brand’s signature tonneau-shaped cases but are made of Carbon TPT®, a light and strong high-performance material ensuring optimal protection and known for its moiré sheen surface.
The RM 07-01 Automatic Starry Night employs Carbon TPT on both its case and strap – the latter weighing just 29 grams. This aptly named timepiece evokes a nighttime sky with a collection of brilliant diamonds in prong settings, scattered over the bezel and dial to represent stars. This was no easy machining feat to achieve. Unlike gold, which an artisan can shape with their own tools to make prongs for holding the gems, the hardness and resistance of Carbon TPT® required specialist CNC machines equipped with diamond bits to provide the drilling for setting gems.
In the expert hands of gem-setters, all three of Richard Mille’s timepieces for women have numerous stones haphazardly arranged in a technique called “snow setting” to evoke random flashes of snowflakes in the sun. Stones of differing sizes are held only by slender prongs drawn out by the craftsman, completely blanketing the surface. The difficulty of this setting resides in the selection and arrangement of stones, playing on their varying diameters from 0.5 to 1.6 millimeters. The gems must snugly fit in a micron’s precision while maintaining the illusion of a random pattern.
The hand-polished prongs are in 5N red gold, which typically consists of 75% gold and 25% copper. The prongs are produced separately and then embedded in the stone settings of varying diameters to hold the RM 07-01 Automatic Starry Night’s 181 diamonds. The RM 07-01 Automatic, meanwhile, combines a bezel and case back in Carbon TPT® with a caseband in 5N red gold.
Style: Celia-Jane Ukwenya
Art: Rahat Kunakunova, Fuad Ali at Duette Studio
Hair and makeup: Manuel Losada
Senior market fashion editor: Amine Jreissati
Production: Danica Zivkovic
Model: Fernanda Chaves at Signature Element
Style assistant: Astrid Mora
Photography assistants: Amila and Randy