The Richard Mille RM 27-05 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal Is The New Horological Equivalent of The Tennis Star

The watchmaker’s latest ode to the superstar athletes bears all the hallmarks of innovation and excellence.
by Yanni Tan
RM 27-05

Photo: Richard Mille

Richard Mille’s past collaborations with Rafael Nadal had yielded a series of 10 groundbreaking tourbillon watches renowned for their innovation and durability. Each watch, from the RM 027 to the RM 35-03, had been as astounding examples of watchmaking, as Nadal had been an absolute force in the tennis world. These watches, which the Spaniard then wore to every match, not only withstood the rigour and intensity of his style of play (think a forehand racquet head speed average of 122.2km/h, with an average 3,300 ball rotations per minute), but also symbolise the synergy between cutting-edge technology and athletic prowess.

On the early days of his friendship with Mr Mille himself, Nadal recalled, “I still remember the day in 2008 when Richard contacted me to discuss working together. It was unthinkable for me, as I’d never worn anything on my wrist. It all came together in 2010, when he came to visit me in Mallorca. As a joke, he first presented me with a very heavy platinum watch. When I reacted as you might expect, he quickly held up a prototype of the RM 027: a surprisingly light watch with spectacular lines.”

The kinship between both men would prove to be strong and long-lasting. Once again, Richard Mille pays tribute to the sportsman with the launch of its latest masterpiece, the RM 27-05 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal. Limited to just 80 pieces worldwide, the watch boasts a plethora of technical innovations that set it apart from the ordinary.

RM 27-05

The RM 27-05 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal is finessed to be as strong, robust and precise as the man it is named after (Photo: Richard Mille)

Like Rafa, an exemplary machine

Measuring 37.25mm by 47.25mm by 7.20mm, the RM 27-05 weighs a mere 11.5g excluding the strap. At its heart lies the manual-winding flying tourbillon movement based on the ultra-thin RMUP-01 calibre. Offering a power reserve of 55 hours, it features hours and minutes functions, with its ultra-flat and ultra-light construction weighing just 3.79g.

The skeletonised and hand-finished baseplate is crafted from microblasted and PVD-treated grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible and highly corrosion-resistant alloy, while the bridges are made from a combination of titanium and the new composite Carbon TPT B.4. An optimised anisotropic material that makes it possible to machine the case to ever thinner cross-sections, this material is 4 percent denser, with the fibre 15 per cent stiffer and the resin 30 per cent stronger compared with previous versions of Carbon TPT. These unique features not only enhance the watch’s rigidity and wearability, but also ensures optimal strength and resistance to shocks up to 14,000 g’s, making it a worthy companion for Nadal’s relentlessly physical matches.

Designing the calibre and case required 4,000 hours of work. While its design sobriety marks a return to the collection’s roots, this model is the result of a rethinking the entire development process. There are no screws holding the movement to the case. The entire mechanism rests inside the monobloc back/caseband unit, which is then topped by the flange and bezel. The whole assembly presses down on the calibre to hold it firmly in place.

This horological masterpiece weighs a mere 11.5g excluding the strap (Photo: Richard Mille)

The flying tourbillon, with its variable-inertia balance, offers improved reliability and chronometric performance over time. Its single-sided mounting provides an unobstructed view of the intricate mechanism while reducing overall weight. Furthermore, the fast-rotating flying barrel, rotating at 5.2 hours per revolution, diminishes internal mainspring adhesion, enhancing the watch’s performance and power reserve.

Other innovations, such as the barrel pawl with progressive recoil and winding-barrel teeth with a central involute profile, ensure efficient winding and torque transmission, contributing to the watch’s unparalleled precision and longevity. Additionally, spline screws in grade 5 titanium for the bridges and case provide better control and durability during assembly.

The crystal of the RM 27-05 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal is also made of lightweight PMMA polymer with a scratch-resistant coating, offering exceptional transparency for combating strong light exposure without the need for an anti-glare coating.

RM 27-05

Rafael Nadal is one of the tennis world’s greatest ever (Photo: Richard Mille)

Ode to greatness

This collaboration between Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal not only showcases the pinnacle of watchmaking craftsmanship but is a veritable homage to the latter’s steadfast pursuit of excellence on and off the tennis court.

His journey to becoming one of the most revered athletes globally is as remarkable as his achievements. Born in 1986, the Mallorcan showed prodigious talent from a young age. He began playing tennis at the age of four, and turned professional at just 15. Ascending swiftly in this highly competitive arena, he made a name for himself with his incredible intensity, powerful groundstrokes, and jaw-dropping athleticism. Known as the “King of Clay” for his dominance on clay courts, he has won a record-breaking 14 French Open titles, cementing his status as one of the greatest clay-court players in history.

Not just a tennis champ but a philanthropist and torch-bearer for the next generation of tennis players (Photo: Richard Mille)

He has also triumphed on grass and hard courts, amassing multiple Grand Slam titles across all surfaces, including four US Open, two Wimbledon, and two Australian Open wins. His total of 22 Grand Slam singles titles surpass even that of tennis GOAT Roger Federer — a feat that underscores his versatility and longevity in the sport.

Beyond his extraordinary achievements on the tennis court, Nadal is admired and respected for his humility, sportsmanship, and philanthropy. He is known for his gracious demeanour both in victory and defeat, earning him the admiration of fans and fellow athletes alike. Off the court, Nadal is actively involved in charitable endeavours, supporting numerous causes through his foundation, which focuses on providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth and promoting social inclusion through sports and education.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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