The boundaries of Tom Mason’s doing work existence may well appear compact. His regular days are used hunched about a bench in a 12 sq ft workshop where by he guides the surgically-honed ideas of his professional applications via the minuscule, significant-tech universe observed in the mechanism of each Richard Mille wristwatch.

But, when you are delivering a distinctive assistance to the owners of next-hand timepieces that routinely market for additional than £1m, there has to be a glamorous facet, far too.

“Before Covid, I utilised to go all around the entire world quite a good deal, servicing and restoring watches in clients’ homes,” says Mason. “I after travelled 9,000 miles for one particular individual collector simply because he wanted to have a strap changed.”

The previous cupboard maker and mechanical engineer switched to horology at 26, learning his craft at Birmingham’s Faculty of Jewellery for three a long time — and then coolly landed the task with Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille that has certainly created him the envy of lots of of his friends.

“I was taken on as a really junior watchmaker, but was immediately despatched to the Richard Mille manufacture in Switzerland for a few-and-a-50 percent months of genuinely extensive, expert education,” he suggests. “The position comes with enormous duty and, to be frank, I was definitely terrified at to start with. Even when I begun 11 many years ago, the values of the many styles were already extremely significant.”

Tom Mason’s normal days are spent hunched around a bench but there is a glamorous side, much too © Anna Gordon for the FT

A perfunctory trawl of pre-owned Richard Mille watches for sale confirms that even entry stage parts are seldom mentioned at less than £100,000, with the bulk of sellers asking a lot of multiples of that depending on the rarity of the design.

Inevitably, purchasing this sort of watches second hand from an not known source is a potential minefield, which is why Peter Harrison, Richard Mille’s main govt for Emea, made a decision to open the brand’s initially authorised, pre-owned dealership in Europe and appoint Mason as its sole watchmaker.

Harrison’s daughter, Tilly, runs the discreet operation in the coronary heart of London’s Mayfair, which is regarded basically as Ninety Mount Road. Its intention is to give potential Richard Mille owners with the confidence that they are buying the authentic report and, equally importantly, that it has not in the earlier been butchered by a perfectly-this means repairer lacking the professional understanding and products that these watches need.

“The 1st Richard Mille prototypes had been only built in 2000,” says Harrison. “But, as the years went by, we began to acquire more and extra requests for pre-owned, discontinued or challenging-to-attain types and found that the additional historical pieces had been increasing in importance and attracting curiosity from serious collectors. Actually early products, these kinds of as the RM-02 and 03, have been built in small quantities and are now incredibly sought-soon after.

“We get calls from all around the world from men and women seeking for the really hard-to-come across and uncommon items, these types of as the carbon TPT armour-cased RM 53-01 produced with polo participant Pablo MacDonough, or the RM68-01 tourbillon with a motion painted by graffiti artist Cyril Kongo — it price tag $685,000 new and can now fetch as a great deal as $2m, but we get questioned for it really commonly.”

Watchmaker Tom Mason services clients’ pieces at Richard Mille’s Mayfair operation
Mason has drawers comprehensive of tools of motion holders, most of which are built for use with only a person particular model © Anna Gordon for the FT

Harrison states collectors take pleasure in the peace of brain that will come with shopping for pre-owned items direct from the model, not least simply because they can be self-assured that the look at will glimpse as excellent within just as it does on the outside the house.

“The building of a Richard Mille view and the products made use of in it are in contrast to any other, which signifies that third-social gathering intervention by inexperienced watchmakers can be disastrous,” clarifies Mason.

“One of my good dreads is to open up up a view that has occur in for support or mend and to uncover that somebody has prompted critical destruction by taking it aside.”

Mason has drawers total of tools which incorporate much more than 200 movement holders, most of which are built for use with only one certain design. “The spline screws that hold the watches with each other are special, and even the tweezers I use all have to be built from boxwood,” he says. “It’s prevalent to see PVD-coated titanium foundation plates that have been harmed only as a result of another person finding them up with a resource built from steel.”

The price tag of a assistance and scenario refurbishment of a Richard Mille design this kind of as an RM-011 chronograph arrives in at about £4,000, a sum that homeowners of low-cost quartz watches who balk at investing £5 on a new battery could obtain tough to comprehend.

That, however, can be simply the start off of items.

“I consider the biggest work I have experienced to offer with was placing right the fallout from an Instagram picture that went completely wrong — the proprietor had positioned their pink gold RM-11 on the ledge of balcony in order to capture the scenic backdrop. Another person walked past, knocked it off and watched in horror as it crashed to the street, several tales under.

“The proprietor got it back again hunting as very good as new — but the fix invoice was all over £35,000.”