By James Phang
At the official start of the 114th Edition of the French Open at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, Richard Mille introduced its latest timepiece for the brand’s friend and ambassador Rafael Nadal, whom also committed to wearing the new RM 27-02 Tourbillon at the 2015 French Open.
(For those who know Nadal’s style of playing, he is an extremely finicky person who would maximize everything within his reach to win the game, being adamant about minute details such as the placement of his water bottles, tying his shoes, or wiping his sweat. As such, his decision to wear the bulky $775,000 watch during his matches surprised everyone as it could potentially affect his performance, given that the watch would get in the way of his favored two-handed backhand. However, Nadal has reiterated that Richard Mille and Nadal had worked together to adjust everything to his wrist, making it “part of his skin” during his games, suggesting that the Swiss watchmaker has managed to conform to the strictest standards of a professional athlete).
The RM 27-02 Tourbillon brings to the market the first skeletonized uni-body baseplate in which both the case-band and baseplate have been fused into a single piece. This structure, inspired by the chassis of racing cars, dramatically enhances rigidity and resistance to impacts, ensuring that it can meet the high demands of a professional athlete.
The special baseplate also supports customized bridges with unique features such as their three-dimensional construction, their beveled, shot-blasted and satin-brushed finishes and their titanium and carbon composition.
The bridges support a sophisticated hand-wound tourbillon calibre which beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour with 70 hours power reserve, contributed by a fast rotating barrel (6 hours per revolution as opposed to the more common 7 1/2 hours). The barrel pawl with progressive recoil permits a 20% winding gain, especially at the start of winding, and contributes to an even distribution of the mainspring’s internal tension.
The RM 27-02 case (47.77 x 39.70 x 12.25 mm) is also another marvel, whereby Richard Mille’s engineers have developed TPT quartz in partnership with North Thin Ply Technology, presenting a new material composed of hundreds of layers of quartz filaments layered on top of one another. These fibers are resistant to high temperatures and characterized by extreme strength and transparency to electromagnetic waves. No thicker than 45 microns, these silica layers are inserted between layers of NTPT carbon by an automatic positioning system that changes the orientation of the fibers between each layer by 45°. During this phase, the various layers of TPT quartz and NTPT carbon are revealed at random, creating unique machined components to integrate into the baseplate. The bezel and solid case back in NTPT carbon/TPT quartz are attached to the unibody baseplate using 12 spline screws in grade 5 titanium.
Overall, Richard Mille’s dedication to research and development at the highest levels has allowed the brand to successfully bear the abuse by professional athletes such as tennis players and Formula 1 racers, successfully creating one of the most amazing, extreme watches suitable for the most demanding of environments.
The Richard Mille Tourbillon RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal is a limited edition launch of only 50 pieces, of which the remaining 49 pieces are priced at approximately US$850,000 each. The prototype of a Richard Mille RM 27-02 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal actually worn and tested by Rafael is to be sold at the 7 November Only Watch 2015, hosted by Phillips Watches to raise funds for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. For more info, please visit richardmille.com
JAMES PHANG – CONTRIBUTING WRITER
James Phang is a young watch enthusiast from Singapore and is a self-professed fanatic of independent brands for their unique avant-garde designs. Some of his favorite brands include MB&F, Urwerk, Romain Jerome, Sarpaneva, Peter Speake-Marin and Azimuth. His love for art extends out to all things handmade, and he has made it his personal mission to find the best handmade straps and buckles worldwide for his humble collection. Read his articles here.