As the 2017 Wimbledon Championships approach, we spotlight the newest timepiece worn by, and developed in cooperation with, one of the world’s top tennis players: the Richard Mille RM 27-03 Rafael Nadal. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this 50-piece limited edition with a six-figure price tag? It’s a quartz watch! (Well… not in the way you’d normally expect. Read on.)
The Richard Mille RM 27-03 Rafael Nadal — the latest timepiece to spring from the Swiss brand’s partnership with the Spanish tennis champ, which began in 2010 — instantly grabs attention with its distinctive yellow-and-red color scheme, a nod to the 10-time French Open winner’s native country. But take a closer look at the colorful, tonneau-shaped case and you’ll see there’s a lot more going on than an eye-catching paint job. The case —like that of one of last year’s special Nadal watches, the RM 35-02 — is constructed from Quartz TPT, a material whose colorful, textured surface is created by impregnating quartz fibers just 45 microns thick with tinted resin in a proprietary process developed for Richard Mille by North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT), a Swiss firm that specializes in lightweight prepreg materials. (The watch manufacturer also worked with NTPT on its groundbreaking RM 50-03 McLaren F1 model, its headliner at SIHH 2017.)
The woven quartz fibers impart not only the case’s unique rippled look, but also an impressive strength-to-weight ratio and a water-resistance of 50 meters, in addition to being anallergenic and resistant to UV rays. Inside the case, the movement offers robust qualities of its own. Thanks to years of R&D and many hours of tests — including a battery of “pendulum impact testing,” which simulated the linear acceleration that occurs when the wearer is subject to sudden motions or shocks — the RM 27-03 caliber, equipped with a tourbillon, withstands shocks up to 10,000 Gs — a new record in the wristwatch industry. Like the case, the movement is extremely light yet durable, with a baseplate made of Carbon TPT (first used by Richard Mille in 2013’s RM 011 Flyback Chronograph), along with a rapidly winding barrel providing a consistent flow of energy throughout the watch’s 70-hour power reserve.
On full display under the sapphire crystal, the movements boasts hand-polished tapered anglage and satin surfaces contrasting with finely microblasted elements. Visually, the placement of the sharply curved, skeletonized bridges surrounding the barrel, the large wheel, and the tourbillon (beating at a 3-Hz frequency) call to mind the head of a bull, a symbol of Spain and Nadal’s chosen emblem. In another personalized — and somewhat playful — aesthetic touch, the torque-limiting winding crown is molded in the shape of a tennis ball.
The Richard Mille RM 27-03 Rafael Nadal was unveiled in Paris on the eve of the French Open, and the first model presented to Nadal himself — who, of course, went on to win the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the 10th time while wearing it. Will the new watch bring the Spaniard similar luck on the grass courts of Wimbledon? In any case, one of the remaining models can be yours for $725,000 — and you can watch jaws drop when you tell friends how you dropped three quarters of a million on a quartz watch.