Datuk Michelle Yeoh not only found a perfect match in Richard Mille but she also co-designed a watch that epitomises both their qualities, writes Faridul Anwar Farinordin
MALAYSIAN-BORN international star Datuk Michelle Yeoh, who plays the role of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady, describes her relationship with luxury watch brand Richard Mille as “a perfect match”.
As ambassador for Richard Mille, she said she had always admired his masterpieces. “We share the same philosophy and that’s where we find a common ground to build this partnership, to which I am very thankful for,” she said at a recent Press conference in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the release of The Lady.
It was Mille, the French watchmaker and owner himself (a close friend of Yeoh’s fiancé Jean Todt), who suggested that Yeoh design a women’s watch.
The project materialised last year together with Mille’s artistic director Melanie Treton-Monceyron and the RM 051 Phoenix-Michelle Yeoh was born — “designed for women looking for highly technical performance timepieces around a very sophisticated package”.
According to Chinese legend, the phoenix (or Feng-Huang) was the empress’s emblem and known for being the kindest of birds. Its beauty was unsurpassed and its song, one of the most beautiful. After several centuries, the phoenix would eventually burn into extinction, only to rise again from the ashes.
A symbol of grace, feminine beauty and strength, the body of the phoenix represents five human qualities: Its head, virtue, its wings, duty, its back, justice, its chest, goodwill and its belly, reliability.
The press release reads: “Projected into the world of haute horlogerie, the phoenix enters a timeless dimension. Positioned in the RM 051, the phoenix is adorned with diamonds and encapsulates the movement in harmony with the barrel, power reserve and tourbillon. Poetry and fascination are transcended from this highly complex and elegant work of art.”
Another attribute of the RM 051 is its base plate made of black Onyx, a gemstone known for its properties in absorbing negative energy and producing emotional stability as well as inspiration. The RM 051 is a limited edition of 18 pieces, Yeoh’s favourite number.
Yeoh sat down with Life & Times for a chat.
Richard Mille and The Lady
The brand has been working closely with The Lady, going beyond and out of its way in support of the movie, not only in Malaysia but also in Singapore and Indonesia, all the way to France and Washington, D.C in the United States when we had a private screening hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
What it represents
I share its views in support of everything that strives for perfection. It has a high appreciation for people who are outstanding in their causes and holds human relationships in great respect. It has created a lasting bond with its ambassadors in the past and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the relationship is equally fulfilling for both parties.
On the brand’s other ambassador, Spanish professional tennis player Rafael Nadal.
Other than Suu Kyi, Nadal is another great hero of mine. And I think he is cute too.
Did it take a lot of convincing for her to say yes?
I hope not (laughs). I think we appreciate each other and the feeling is mutual. Richard saw me as a person who represents values that he believes in, as much as I see the brand as an extension of my personality.
Timepieces by Richard Mille
They are art pieces. They are also fine jewellery pieces.
The Limited Edition Richard Mille RM 051 Phoenix-Michelle Yeoh.
I am thankful for the opportunity to design the Phoenix. I have always asked why it is difficult to find watches for women with 9 winding tourbillon movement? Richard Mille makes this possible and the Phoenix is testimony to our strife for such perfection. It just fits around your wrist like a piece of jewellery. Most importantly, you wear it like a piece of art.
A timepiece that she holds close to her heart?
The watch that my dad gave me, passed down from his father. I still have it in my safe, but I don’t wear it anymore. A good timepiece is something that you pass on from one generation to the other.
The Lady, directed by French film-director Luc Besson (known for action flicks The Professional, The Fifth Element and The Transporter), opens in cinemas nationwide tomorrow. It also stars David Thewlis who plays Suu Kyi’s husband Michael Aris. Details on Richard Mille at www.richardmille.com