Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Richard Mille RM 27-03 accompanies Nadal for historic 10th Win

Record setting Richard Mille RM 27-03 joins record setting tennis star Rafael Nadal on historic win, setting a new milestone and provenance for auction values.

Jun 12, 2017 | By Jonathan Ho

Record setting tennis player Rafael Nadal has done it again, winning his historic 10th French Open title with another record setting watch – the Richard Mille RM 27-03. The historic 10th win was historic many because no other player has ever won 10 championships at the French Open nor have they been doing it with watches approaching the million dollar mark. The $750,000 watch accompanied Nadal, during his tourney with Audemars Piguet brand ambassador Stan Wawrinka to a resounding 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 victory.

The Richard Mille RM27-03 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon is a collection of 50 limited edition watches designed to be the most cutting edge timepieces on the planet by virtue of the brand’s insistence that their ambassadors wear their watches during those physically punishing events.

Watch of a Champion: Richard Mille RM 27-03 accompanies Nadal for historic 10th Win

It’s been an almost 10 year relationship beginning in 2008 when Mille and Nadal were both introduced by a mutual friend. On one hand, a technophile convinced that additional weight on his wrist might potentially impact his gameplay, on the other, a committed watch genius convinced that he could make an ultra-light watch with the most fragile of watch components and improve on their design with a robust endurance matching that of the tennis superstar.

The striking red and yellow hues of the Richard Mille RM27-03 Nadal Tourbillon's Quartz TPT® case pays homage to Nadal'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®).

The striking red and yellow hues of the Richard Mille RM27-03 Nadal Tourbillon’s Quartz TPT® case pays homage to Nadal’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®).

 

The limited edition Richard Mille RM27-03 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon is a the sum inventive horological genius of the other high performance Richard Mille watches that have come before it.

Anatomy of a Champion’s watch: How the Richard Mille RM 27-03 Nadal is the sum of all the brand’s innovations

It is conventional wisdom that wearing a tourbillon complication to a relatively leisurely sportive activity like golf is tantamount to signing yourself up for painful service in the event that a mis-timed or mis-aimed swing sends the result shockwaves up your club and into your timepiece – disrupting chronometry at best, totally knocking the tourbillon complication out of position at worst. Thus, the concept of “G-force” wasn’t one commonly associated with field of horology since it was general assumption that mechanical watches with high complications were treated with kid gloves. That was until 2001.

The 2001 Richard Mille in question and a visual guide to various realistic G-forces one might conceivably experience. Chart source: CBCnews Canada. Image rights: Richard Mille

Richard Mille innovation 1: G-force at the fore
“G-force” is a unit of measurement for describing force on the body when it is accelerated and notion of G-force entered watch collecting lexicon in 2001 when Mr. Richard Mille himself made hurled the first RM 001 in dramatic fashion onto the floor before an audience of journalists and future clients (and event which they repeat each watch fair I might add). The takeaway was undeniable – Richard Mille watches could withstand especially violent shocks unlike anything which previously existed.

Richard Mille innovation 2: 10.000-G’s Shock and Impact Resistance
As mentioned, it used to be that an errant golf-swing could really ruin your day and your tourbillon. The main innovation of extraordinary Richard Mille RM27-03 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon lies in the capacity of its tourbillon calibre to withstand shocks up to 10,000 g’s. It was borne of the requirement that even though Nadal didn’t wear the watch on his master arm, the return swing or back-hand stroke coupled with Nadal’s extraordinary power output when it comes to his swing – Nadal tops 5,000 rpm, averaging 3,200 rpm compared with other tennis champions Andre Agassi’s 1,800 rpm and Roger Federer’s 2,500 rpm, meant that any watch worn by Nadal had to put up with punishment unlike anything ever experienced by a watch. ‘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 ultralight 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.

This virtual indestructability is vouchsafed by assembly of the ultralight 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.

 

Richard Mille innovation 3: Outstanding construction
Heretofore unseen unibody baseplate in Carbon TPT®, grade 5 titanium bridges and strategic reinforcements at the heart (the mesmerising tourbillon complication) of the calibre all contribute to the rigidity of the timepiece.

For the first time at Richard Mille, the case middle has been removed. The bezel and caseback are assembled directly on the baseplate, which is described as ‘unibody’—a type of racing-car construction that ensures maximum rigidity and greater resistance to impacts.

For the first time at Richard Mille, the case middle has been removed. The bezel and caseback are assembled directly on the baseplate, which is described as ‘unibody’—a type of racing-car construction that ensures maximum rigidity and greater resistance to impacts.

Unibody Baseplate in Carbon TPT® 

The Unibody Baseplate Caseband construction of the RM 27-02 is machined from Carbon TPT®.

Carbon TPT® consists of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by separating carbon threads. With a maximum thickness of 30 microns, the Carbon TPT® layers are saturated with resin then piled onto a special machine that modifies the orientation of the fibre between each layer by 45°.

Once it has been heated to 120°C and subjected to a pressure of 6 bars, the Carbon TPT® is machined at Richard Mille’s parts factory. Carbon TPT® is renowned for its excellent resistance to micro-cracks and splits.

The skeletonised Carbon TPT® baseplate is a feat of machining. A master component of the RM 27-03, it has been subjected to a full battery of extreme approval tests in order to optimise its mechanical properties.

Nadal’s historic 10th French Open win also marks the 15th Grand Slam title, edging out his tie with tennis legend Pete Sampras, it remains to be seen if Nadal can now equal or beat Roger Federer who won 18 Grand Slam titles. If Nadal’s relationship with Richard Mille continues, it could also set a new milestone for the brand and enhance the provenance of Richard Mille RM27 Nadal tourbillon series in terms of future auction values.

 
Back to top