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EP 5: Revolutionary Richard Mille Collaboration

Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal's decade-long partnership has graced the world with exceptional timepieces

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Richard Mille is not your average watch brand from the “land of the Alps”, It’s a beast of a machine, a timepiece with racing DNA, infamous for its bold takes and design elements in the world of horology. Richard Mille is a dream for many, but a reality for few, delicate and whimsical on the inside but a beast from the outside, standing all the way to the opposite end of the ordinary spectrum.

As big as the name is in the watchmaking universe, Its impact is just as heavy. Partnering with exclusive sports and top-of-the-game athletes worldwide, Richard Mille has created a different bubble in the timekeeping industry. Today we’ll look at the beauty of how when the right brand collaborates with the partners it creates something groundbreaking

The man, the myth, the legend

“Rafa and I have a long-term commitment. We are there come rain come shine it is more than just watchmaking, it’s life” - Richard Mille

Rafael Nadal, part of the big three in tennis, with 22 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest man in the Open Era to achieve a Grand Slam. We can talk and talk about his impact and achievements in tennis and the list shall never stop.

Known for his aggressive playing profile along with inhuman athleticism and speed on the court, no doubt he was the best athlete to partner with, and for a brand like Richard Mille who shares the same set of traits as Rafa, their partnership was a “match made in heaven.

RM 027 tourbillon, Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille have a long history together, more than a decade old, but it all started back in 2008 when they both met. It was tough to play tennis with a watch on your wrist, it limited maneuver, especially with luxury watches which tend to be a lot heavier and delicate. As Rafael recalls, when Richard contacted him for work, he thought it was unthinkable as he had never worn anything on his wrist while playing. Because the RM 027 was yet to be developed

Cut to 2010, RM and Rafael Nadal's partnership was no longer in the curtains. Rafa was winning matches wearing this beautiful RM 027 tourbillon on his wrist! so what happened? What changed?

Well, it was RM 027 that changed it all! For instance, the average weight of RM is around 40 grams, but the RM 027 was less than 20 grams (including the strap), they used titanium and LITAL alloy to build the tourbillon movement baseplate to make it lighter and give it more strength. The results speak for themselves, RM 027 could take the extreme shock that is typically experienced by playing tennis without adding up the weight, it was as if you’re a second skin! making it the lightest mechanical watch, with the movement weighing only 3.83 grams!

This timed the beginning of a great decade ahead between the two with more great collaboration down the line.

RM 27-01, Rafael Nadal

As the Rafael saga continues RM took up a new challenge to break their own record of the lightest mechanical tourbillon watch, and what they created was less than a horology marvel

Following the success of Rafael Nadal and his 7th consecutive victory at the French Open in 2012, Richard Mille launched 27-01 in 2013 and was only limited to 50 pieces taking the engineering concepts to the next level!

RM 27-01 took the understanding of horology a step further, the watch being a mere 18.83 grams (with the strap, being the heaviest part of the watch) the entire movement was suspended with 4 cables, 0.35 mm in diameter acting as suspension for the mechanism holding it with tensioners to resist the shock and keep it the tourbillon intact from intense tennis plays

RM 27-01

CALIBRE 27-01 is a manual winding tourbillon movement, using grade 5 titanium for the baseplate of the tourbillon and aluminum-lithium for bridges and gear trains. The entire mechanism weighs just 3.5 grams and can withstand shock over 5000gs 

RM 035 Rafael Nadal

Launched one year after the infamous partnership with Rafael Nadal, RM 035 is a certified beast, by certified I mean it’s the first Richard Mille Chronofiable certified timepiece.

What is a Chronofiable Certification?

This is a rigorous test against the time and the longevity of a timepiece, to get this certification, the watch undergoes various tests to ensure the sustainability and reliability of the watch and the movement. The RM 027, despite being an exceptionally durable watch and even with Rafa Nadal wearing it while playing at Wimbledon, did not qualify for the Chronofiable certification. This fact speaks volumes about the extreme nature of the testing required for this certification.

in the course of 21 days, a timepiece goes through an accelerated aging of 6 months where several different tests are taken into consideration from monitoring the power reserve to examining the timepiece in a sweltering environment (180 degrees Celsius) to (-70 degrees), subjecting the watch to 20,000 shocks ranging from 250 to 2500m/s2 and many more before presenting the certification.

The CALIBRE RMUL 1 movement contains 24 jewels, beats at 4Hz, and is a skeletonized manual winding movement. It weighs just 4.3 grams and has a PVD-treated titanium baseplate, which was finalized after numerous tests to ensure strength and shock resistance. The case is made of an aluminum, magnesium, and copper alloy called alumagnesium. Similar to those used in aerospace industries, this alloy is treated to improve its scratch resistance and resistance to corrosion and is also biocompatible.

RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal

This impressive timepiece perfectly embodies Rafael Nadal's strength. Limited to just 50 pieces, the third edition of the Rafael Nadal tourbillon watch is truly striking. The vibrant black-and-white pattern is eye-catching, and the bridges are made of grade 5 titanium, ensuring the movement's stability. The watch's heart can run for up to 70 hours.

following their success working with NTPT (north thin ply technology), RM developed another material called Quarts TPT which ensures resistance to extreme heat and guarantees inhumane strength.

Succeeding its research in Carbon TPT, the brand unveiled its latest skeletonized baseplate, which is fused with a caseband, eliminating the need to attach two components together. They call this unibody.

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