Sports partnerships for watches are nothing new, though it’s not every day an athlete claims the highest title in his or her field while wearing the sponsoring watch — let alone one that retails at $1,050,000. Yet Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal did just that, wearing the Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal and claiming victory in this year’s French Open, and with that win, his 20th Grand Slam title. This is the 10th year of Nadal and Richard Mille’s ongoing partnership, and this watch named for the star is the latest iteration of the brand’s “extreme watchmaking” geared toward handling Nadal’s individual style of play.
Taking a closer look at the RM 27-04 Tourbillon, we find a familiar Richard Mille silhouette, with plenty of special elements drawn together specifically for Nadal. Its tonneau-shaped case measures 38.4 mm across and 47.25 mm in length. Despite its formidable presence, the watch sits quite close to the wrist, at only 11.4-mm thick, complete with its eight bezel screws, overall sporty styling, and prominent orange-accented crown.
The polished and sandblasted case itself is constructed of a super-light material the brand dubs TitaCarb, which is a high-performance polyamide built with 38.5% carbon fiber and featuring a tensile strength of 370 MPa (3,700 kg/cm2 ), which Richard Mille claims makes it one of the most resistant polymers in the world. Possibly the most impressive feature of the case is its lightness to durability ratio, weighing in at only 30 grams (including the strap) and so light it’s able to float in water, yet so durable it can withstand the forces generated by the wrist of Nadal, who frequently launches balls at his opponents at over 100 mph.
On the dial we find a skeletonized look that takes its direct inspiration from the strings on a tennis racquet, with the tourbillon movement within the strings taking center stage — a unique construction in the watch world. As for what’s going on technically, the tourbillon caliber (also named the RM 27-04) is supported by the micro-blasted mesh, which takes up a minuscule 855 square millimeters in surface area and is completely comprised of a single 0.27-mm-diameter braided steel cable, which is woven 38 times across the dial and secured via by two tensioners in PVD-treated 5N gold. The secured movement then powers the red tipped skeletonized hands of the watch, which tell the time via an outer red-accented minute and hour ring on the edge of the dial. The movement is manually wound, capable of a 38-hour power reserve, and visible via a sapphire caseback.
The Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, as mentioned, currently retails by the brand at the super-exclusive $1,050,000 and will be limited in production to 50 editions. And while the RM 27-04 might only be accessible to a very, very small collection of interested buyers, for the reader’s curiosity you can have Nadal’s opponent, Novak Djokovic, watch, the Seiko Astron GPS Solar, for the much more budget friendly $2,900.
For more information, visit Richard Mille’s website, here.