When Rafael Nadal steps on the clay courts of Roland Garros next week in search of his 10th French Open title, he’ll be wearing a $725,000 Richard Mille tourbillon wristwatch capable of withstanding shocks of up to 10,000 g’s. The RM 27-03 is the ninth collaboration between the Spanish ace and Richard Mille, a partnership that began in 2010 when Rafa stepped out to play with the RM 027 Tourbillon that weighed just 20 gm.
The RM 27-03 has a striking red and yellow Quartz TPT case that’s meant to pay homage to Spain’s national colors. In the hours since its release, the color scheme has stirred up some vitriol on social media with some users even calling it the McDonald’s edition. This color is achieved by impregnating fine layers of silica just 45 microns thick with tinted resin according to a proprietary process developed in Switzerland that stacks the filaments in layers before heating them to 120 °C.
Never mind the contentious color scheme, what’s unique about the 40.3 mm wide case is its unibody construction. The bezel and caseback are assembled directly on the baseplate, the caseband has been eliminated. The quartz fibres used in the case have a great strength/weight ratio, is a hypoallergenic material highly resistant to UV rays and water-resistant up to 50 meters.
The watch is powered by the in-house Caliber RM27-03, a manual winding tourbillon movement that can withstand shocks up to 10,000 g’s. According to Richard Mille, this new threshold has been attained “thanks to years of R&D and countless hours of tests, particularly ‘pendulum impact testing’ which simulates the linear acceleration that occurs due to sudden movements or shock to the wearer.”
This is important because Nadal tends to wear his Richard Mille timepieces on court. During a game, the energy from the shock of the ball hitting the racket is directly transmitted to the watch, just like the accelerations and decelerations resulting from the many arm gestures the player makes during a match. According to measurements recorded by a Swiss microtechnology laboratory, a watch absorbs around 60 g’s of linear acceleration during the serve of an amateur tennis player.
Thanks to the assembly of the tourbillon calibre on the skeletonized unibody baseplate, and a reduced number of components in the movement, the movement is really lightweight. A rapid winding barrel provides 70 hours of running time and the movement’s escapement beats at 3 Hz (21,600 vph).
The movement features hand-polished chamfered edges and satin surfaces that set off the sparkle of finely microblasted elements. The RM 27-03 has an interesting architecture that plays off the depth of the movement. The sharp curves of the skeletonized grade 5 titanium bridges evoke the forward-facing head of a bull, a symbol of Spain and Nadal’s chosen emblem. The torque-limiting crown of Quartz TPT is in the shape of a tennis ball.
The watch is paired with a yellow elastic sports strap. This timepiece will be produced in a limited edition of only 50 pieces and is priced at a whopping $725,000. In January this year during Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève (SIHH), Richard Mille unveiled the world's lightest split-seconds chronograph, the RM 50-3 which was priced at $980,000.