Since 2010, Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal, in a collaboration unique in the history of watchmaking, have developed remarkable watches, and the latest of these is no disappointment. In terms of shock resistance, the tourbillon movement expands the horizons of technical performance
Aesthetically, the timepiece alludes to the Spanish tennis champion’s masterful character.
Roland-Garros was an obvious choice of venue to present this new timepiece. Clay courts are the preferred playing surface for Rafael Nadal, nine-time winner of the French Open, who knows how to play to his strengths. Slow and sensitive, clay calls for an aggressive playing style that nonetheless respects the fundamental principles of the discipline.
Likewise, this new watch reconciles innovations at the level of materials with a testament to
horological architecture. Clay courts are known for amplified effect. You might say the same of the RM 27-03, given the striking red and yellow hues of its Quartz TPT case that pay homage to Rafa’s native Spain. The intense burst of colour is achieved by impregnating fine layers of silica just 45 microns thick with tinted resin according to a proprietary process developed in Switzerland that stacks the filaments in layers before heating them to 120 °C.
When it comes to releasing a new shade of Quartz TPT, achieving colour stability compliant with REACH standards while resolving issues of biocompatibility and durability represents a tremendous display of prowess on the part of the engineers at Richard Mille and North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT). And once the composite is produced, there remained many hours of milling and finishing operations to produce the case and components.
The quartz fibres used in this case, which is water resistant to 50 metres, offer a very advantageous strength/weight ratio, as well as being anallergic and highly resistant to UV rays. But the main innovation of this extraordinary watch lies in the capacity of its tourbillon calibre to withstand shocks up to 10,000 gs. This new threshold has been attained thanks to years of R&D and countless hours of tests, particularly the ‘pendulum impact testing’, which simulates the linear acceleration that occurs due to sudden movements or shock to the wearer.
This virtual indestructability is vouchsafed by assembly of the ultra-light tourbillon calibre on the skeletonised unibody baseplate of Carbon TPT with a precision to the nearest micron, while the reduced number of components in this configuration permits additional weight savings, lightening the whole watch. The rapid winding barrel provides an unvarying flow of energy for the full 70 hours of running time.
The magnificent finishing of the RM 27-03 calibre presents hand-polished tapered anglage and
graceful satin surfaces that set off the sparkle of finely micro-blasted elements. The RM 27-03 offers an impressive play of volumes. Highly stylised, the sharp, streamlined curves of the skeletonised bridges encircling the barrel, the great wheel and the mechanical winding tourbillon beating at 3Hz together evoke the forward-facing head of a bull. A symbol of Spain, this animal is also Nadal’s chosen emblem. As a playful nod, winding and hand setting are conducted using a torque-limiting crown of Quartz TPT in the shape of a tennis ball.
Especially vivid and sporty, this watch, produced in a limited edition of only 50 pieces, will be Rafa’s new ally in the matches ahead on his wrist.
WATCHES: Didier Gourdon
EVENT: Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images