Two men, each with a dream. A dream of pushing back the boundaries of time, or those of performance. One of them on clay, keeping his eyes on the ball; the other with his face turned to time itself. Yet both combine technique, harmony and accuracy while resisting the hard knocks, and inevitable shocks of sporting life. For Rafael Nadal, ‘unstoppable’ is the word that best expresses the spirit of Richard Mille and his teams. Achieving the impossible. This has been the brand’s credo for the past decade in designing the unique pieces worn by the Spaniard on the world’s tennis courts. And the latest product of their partnership, the Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, is no exception to this golden rule.
• Manual winding tourbillon movement with hours and minutes
• Calibre can resist accelerations of over 12,000 g’s, a record for Richard Mille
• Case produced in a brand new material exclusive to the watchmaking brand: TitaCarb®
• Limited edition of 50 watches
The RM 27-04 balances a lightweight design–at 30 grams including the strap–with tremendous resistance. Its tourbillon calibre, which is suspended within the case, can resist accelerations of more than 12,000 g’s, a record for Richard Mille. The movement is entirely supported by a micro-blasted mesh just 855 square millimetres in surface, comprised of a single cable in braided steel measuring 0.27mm in diameter, and held in place by two tensioners in PVD-treated 5N gold. This construction is unprecedented in the world of watchmaking.
Inspired by the same principle as the strings of a tennis racquet, the watchmaker anchors the steel cable to a tensioner positioned at 5 o’clock and then begins to create the mesh, tying each of the main strings before adding the cross strings. Weaving above and below the main strings, the cable passes 38 times through the hollow bezel in grade 5 titanium before finishing in a tensioner positioned at 10 o’clock. The movement is positioned diagonally, connected to the mesh by five grade 5 polished titanium hooks with 5N gold PVD coating that extend from the back of the baseplate.
However, the singularities of the RM 27-04 do not end with its mesh. The case, with its sandblasted and polished surfaces, is also innovative in its use of an exclusive material, TitaCarb®. This high-performance polyamide has been strengthened with a 38.5% carbon fibre content. This addition of carbon gives TitaCarb® exceptional tensile strength—370 MPa (3,700 kg/cm2)—making it one of the most resistant polymers in the world.
This new model fits in perfectly with the previous watch collections created for the Spanish champion. It is unique in more ways than one, as it also marks the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Rafael Nadal and Richard Mille. Initially a purely professional rapport, the collaboration between the 12-time French Open winner and the founder of the brand that bears his name has since turned into a solid friendship. A ‘ very special’ relationship, according to the Majorcan, this friendship grows constantly from their mutual trust and admiration for their respective careers.
The RM 27-04 is the new ally on court for ‘ Rafa’, whose shortened version of his name is engraved on the case band. This watch, a limited edition of 50 pieces, will accompany Rafael Nadal in his quest for new trophies.
Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal Technical Specifications
Limited edition of 50 timepieces in TitaCarb®
CALIBER RM27-04: Manual winding tourbillon movement with hours and minutes.
Case dimensions: 38.40 x 47.25 x 11.40 mm.
Circa 38 hours (±10%)
SKELETONISED BASEPLATE AND BRIDGES IN GRADE 5 TITANIUM
The baseplate and bridges are crafted from grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible, highly corrosion-resistant and remarkably rigid alloy, which guarantees the perfect functioning of the gear train.
The alloy is 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. The use of grade 5 titanium combined with a black PVD treatment lends the whole assembly great rigidity, as well as precise surface flatness. This combination enhances the alloy’s mechanical properties, which explains why it is frequently used in the aerospace, aeronautics and automobile industries.
The skeletonised baseplate and the bridges were subjected to demanding and extensive validation tests to ensure they meet the most rigorous strength requirements
This calibre is based on a microblasted string mesh that is brand new to watchmaking. Formed from a single woven steel cable measuring just 0.27 mm in diameter and held in place by two turnbuckles featuring a 5N gold PVD treatment, this 855 mm2 string mesh supports the entire calibre.
Inspired by the process used to string a tennis racket, the watchmaker starts by securing the steel cable to the turnbuckle at 5 o’clock. He then proceeds to weave the mesh structure, stringing each of the main strings one after the other before beginning to interlace the cross strings. Weaving over and under the main strings, the cable enters the hollowed-out titanium flange 38 times before ultimately finishing its journey in the turnbuckle at 10 o’clock. The regular angles formed by these strings limit excessive friction and localised wear on the main strings during the many impacts sustained over the course of a tennis match.
The movement is then connected to the string mesh via five polished grade 5 titanium hooks with a 5N gold PVD treatment, which originate at the back of the baseplate. Vibration dampeners have been added to the tourbillon chatons, the barrel and the hands to help centre the movement during insertion and absorb any vibrations along the string mesh that could disrupt timekeeping.
Assembly of the movement on the string mesh is complete as soon as the watchmaker tightens the cable by loosening the turnbuckle screws.
Designed to stay in suspension within its case, the calibre RM27-04 can withstand accelerations of over 12,000 g : a new resistance record at Richard Mille.
FREE-SPRUNG BALANCE WITH VARIABLE INERTIA
The free-sprung balance with variable inertia guarantees greater reliability when the movement is subjected to shocks or strong vibrations and during movement assembly and disassembly, hence ensuring better chronometric results over time. The regulator index is eliminated, and a more accurate and repeatable adjustment is possible thanks to 4 small adjustable screws located directly on the balance.
FAST ROTATING BARREL (6 HOURS PER REVOLUTION INSTEAD OF 7.5 HOURS)
This type of barrel has the following advantages:
– Internal mainspring adhesion is significantly diminished, thereby enhancing performance.
– An excellent delta of the mainspring curve, with a power reserve that strikes the ideal balance between performance and regularity.
BARREL PAWL WITH PROGRESSIVE RECOIL
This device delivers an appreciable winding gain (circa 20%), especially at the start of winding. It also helps to distribute the internal tension of the mainspring effectively.
WINDING BARREL TEETH AND THIRD-WHEEL PINION WITH CENTRAL INVOLUTE PROFILE
The central involute profile of the winding-barrel teeth provides an optimal pressure angle of 20°. This promotes effective rotary motion and compensates for possible variations in the engagement of the going train, thus ensuring excellent torque transmission with a distinct improvement in performance.
SPLINE SCREWS IN GRADE 5 TITANIUM FOR THE BRIDGES AND THE CASE
These screws enable better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly. They are unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly, and age well.
– Dimensions of movement: 32.75 x 28.95 mm
– Thickness: 5.85 mm
– Tourbillon diameter: 12.30 mm
– Balance wheel diameter: 10.00 mm
– Number of jewels: 19
– Balance wheel: Glucydur®, 2 arms and 4 setting screws
– Moment of inertia: 11.50 mg.cm2, angle of lift 53°
– Frequency: 3 Hz (21,600 vph)
– Balance spring: elinvar by Nivarox®
– Shock absorbers: Kif Elastor by KE 160 B28
– Barrel shafts: in nickel-free Chronifer® (DIN x 46 Cr13 + S), with the following characteristics: stainless, non-magnetic, can be tempered
The case is made from a brand new material exclusive to Richard Mille: TitaCarb®.
This material is often used in cars and traditional metal applications for its dimensional stability and constant mechanical properties. It is a high-performance polyamide that has been reinforced with up to 38.5% carbon fibre by the teams at Richard Mille and at its loyal partner, Biwi SA. Thanks to this injection of carbon, TitaCarb® offers an exceptional tensile strength of 370 MPa, (3,700 kg/cm2).
In addition to its elevated fracture resistance – which is close to that of steel – this material, used in the most demanding industries, is ideal for machining the components of this case. Its solidity and rigidity, coupled with its low thermal expansion coefficient and high resistance to humidity and temperature make it the ideal material for meeting the specifications of a watch intended to venture out on court with Rafael Nadal. Like all the new materials that Richard Mille develops and introduces to the watchmaking industry, TitaCarb® adheres to the REACH standard, which ensures the safe production and use of chemical substances in European industry.
The caseband and case back feature monobloc constructions for even better rigidity.
The case, which is water-resistant to 50 metres thanks to a Nitrile O-ring seal, is assembled using 8 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and 316L stainless steel washers.
Upper flanges in grade 5 titanium
Lower flange in Carbon TPT®
– In sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with an anti-glare coating (both sides).
– Thickness: 1.00 mm and 2.37 mm at the edges.
Case back side:
– In sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with an anti-glare coating (both sides).
– Thickness: 1.00 mm and 1.67 mm at the edges.
– Hand-polished bevelling
– Microblasted milled sections
– Stretched upper surfaces
– Microblasted surfaces
– Satin-finished surfaces
– Hand-polished bevelling
– Long strokes
– Matt ‘brouillé’ strokes
– Long strokes on the sides
– Polished sinks
– Lapped and polished ends
– Burnished pivots
– Diamond-polished sinks
– Circular finished faces
– Rhodium-plating (before the teeth are cut)
– Minimal corrections made to the wheels to preserve their geometry and overall performance