Giulio Papi is a legend in the watch world. With Dominique Renaud, he founded one of horology’s greatest laboratories for outside-the-box, larger-than-life thinking — the incomparable dreamland for high complications, named Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi.
In the ’90s, he began working with the then head of high-jewelry company Mauboussin, a man named Richard Mille. Together, they created innovative works of high-complication magic, such as tourbillon watches with baseplates crafted from semi-precious stones, like aventurine, for clients such as the Sultan of Brunei.
Shortly after departing from Mauboussin, Mille returned to Papi with a vision for watchmaking that he recalls being “the single most provocative concept for new-world watchmaking I’d ever heard.
Richard wanted to create a rupture from the past and everything that was baroque or backward thinking. He wanted to create watches that were lightning rods for all the cutting-edge, high-performance universes of auto racing and aerospace. In other words, he wanted to connect high-end watchmaking with the future.”
Over the 15-year history, Papi and his company have focused on realizing Mille’s vision, from the world’s first watches with carbon-fiber baseplates and titanium cases capable of withstanding F1 driver Felipe Massa’s near-ballistic crash on the track to the world’s lightest mechanical timepiece worn by Rafael Nadal to countless Grand Slam victories.
On the occasion of Richard Mille’s 15th anniversary, Papi reflects on the decade-and-a-half collaboration between these two extraordinary men, culminating in some of the world’s most groundbreaking timepieces.