Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal
• All new, patented complication: the butterfly rotor
• 3 years of development
• Sports mode and function selector

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, The Butterfly Effect

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Inspired by the tourbillon watches that Rafael Nadal wears on the tennis court, the ‘baby Nadal’ collection is designed as a condensate of technology for anyone in thrall to performance. The RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, fourth timepiece in the collection, is fully worthy of its place in this distinguished lineup, to which it brings a patented innovation, namely the butterfly rotor. 

RM 35-03 Automatic Rafa Nadal in Carbon TPT®

In our respective domains, we both seek to achieve excellence. We speak the same language, Richard and I. We’re both passionate about our work. Keeping alive this flame of passion for what we do each day is essential to me. It is heart-warming to feel the confidence that he and the teams show in allowing me to participate in this singular adventure,’ shares Rafael Nadal.

Three years of development were necessary to coax from its chrysalis this new system for movement winding which spreads its wings in the Richard Mille RM 35-03. While the Calibre RMAL1 of the RM 35-02 already possessed a variable geometry rotor—a signature component of Richard Mille automatic movements— the butterfly rotor of the RM 35-03 allows the wearer to directly interact with the rotor’s geometry, controlling the movement’s winding speed based on lifestyle and activity levels, for a complication that is playful and practical in equal measure. 

Previously, any modification of the rotor’s geometry needed to be done by one of our licensed watchmakers. We have perfected this system and given wearers the possibility of directly acting on the watch’s winding speed,’ explains Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements. ‘It’s like a driver being able to  adjust the transmission style from city use to racetrack by activating the sports mode.’

The butterfly rotor consists of two grade 5 titanium arms mounted with heavy metal weight segments, activated by a separate gear train via a dedicated push-piece. In their initial position, the weight segments create a radial displacement of the gravitational centre outward, converting the wearer’s every movement into the torque needed to rewind the barrel. Press the push-piece at 7 o’clock, however, and the rotor’s gears spread the two weights to a 180° angle. The gravitational centre is aligned and the rotor returns to a balanced position, suspending the winding process and thereby preventing excessive winding of the movement. 

In shifting between modes—from the normal mode that winds the barrel spring to the ‘sports mode’ that suspends the rotor’s activity—pressure on the push-piece prompts the function to deliver haptic feedback, allowing the wearer to actually feel the weight segments springing apart on their wrist. 

A winding indicator at 6 o’clock on the dial, shows whether the oscillating weight is active (ON) or not (OFF). Rounding off the movement commands is a function selector. At a press of the push-piece at  2 o’clock, the user may shift between winding (W), neutral (N) and time-setting (H) activities.  

Athletic and ergonomic in its lines, the Richard Mille RM 35-03 is available in three versions—blue and white Quartz TPT® Carbone TPT® and white Quartz TPT®, and Carbone TPT® – featuring cut-outs inspired by the RM 27-04 Tourbillon. Entirely skeletonised, the movement can be admired from both sides thanks to sapphire crystals on the front and back. The baseplate and bridges, crafted of grade 5 titanium with a grey  electroplasma and PVD treatment, further accentuate the bold visual statement of this watch.  The openwork hands sweep along the outer flange, also in microblasted grade 5 titanium, punctuated with the numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12 and slanted inward towards the movement to enhance depth. 

This elegant exterior visually highlights the technical prowess of the Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal. With this model and its amazing ‘butterfly rotor’ the wearer can now truly experience their watch as an extension of the body. 

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal Technical Specifications

Three models:
– In white Quartz TPT® and Carbon TPT® with the caseband in Carbon TPT®
– In blue Quartz TPT® with the caseband in white Quartz TPT®
– In Carbone TPT® with the caseband in Carbone TPT®

CALIBRE RMAL2: Skeletonised automatic-winding movement with hours, minutes, seconds, patented butterfly rotor, sport mode and function selector.
Case dimensions: 43.15 x 49.95 x 13.15 mm


Circa 55 hours (± 10%)

Manufacturing these components in grade 5 titanium with black PVD and electroplasma treatments confers great rigidity on the entire assembly, as well as precise surface flatness, essential for perfect functioning of the gear train. The skeletonised baseplate and the bridges were subjected to intensive and complete validation tests to optimise their stress resistance.

In a manner similar to a car’s gearbox, a push-button located at 2 o’clock allows one to select the winding, neutral and hand-setting functions with a simple push. A hand at 2 o’clock displays the selected function.

Patented by Richard Mille, the butterfly rotor offers the wearer the possibility of varying the rotor geometry by themselves, controlling the winding of the movement according to their lifestyle and sporting activities.

Rotor specifications
– Arm in grade 5 titanium
– Metal weight segment
– Ceramic ball bearings
– Unidirectional; anti-clockwise winding direction

The butterfly rotor is made up of two weights in grade 5 titanium and metal. In their initial position, the weights cause a radial displacement of the center of gravity, generating the necessary torque to wind the barrel. With a simple pressure on the pusher at 7 o’clock, a gear train dedicated to the rotor deploys the two weights at 180°. The center of gravity is then brought back to the center, bringing the rotor into balance, canceling its winding power and thus any excessive winding of the calibre.

This invention allows the movement’s winding mechanism to be optimised on demand. An ON/OFF indicator located at 6 o’clock allows the owner to see the status of the rotor, if it is activated or not.
By pressing the pusher at 7 o’clock, the butterfly rotor in grade 5 titanium spreads its wings. Once deployed, the rotor’s inertia is modified and stops the winding process in the case of sporting activities. By applying pressure once again to the pusher, the rotor will be functional and wind the movement.
Automatic watches self-wind from wrist movements; too much activity or a lack of activity can have detrimental effects on the power held within the winding barrel. A correct power supply in the barrel is essential for a watch’s optimal functioning.

ON mode:
The rotor is joined and winds the barrel.
OFF mode:
Both weights are deployed. The rotor is no longer functional.

This type of balance wheel represents the ultimate in innovation. It guarantees greater reliability when subjected to shocks and during movement assembly and disassembly, hence better chronometric results over time.
The regulator index is eliminated and a more accurate and repeatable adjustment is possible, thanks to 4 small, adjustable weights located directly on the balance.

The double-barrel system contributes to torque stability over a longer period. This is achieved by dispersing the stored energy across two winding barrels, equalising torque as well as reducing friction on the bearings and pivots, resulting in improved long-term performance.

This permits better control of the torque applied to the screws during assembly. These screws are therefore unaffected by physical manipulation during assembly or disassembly and age well.


– Movement dimensions: 31.25 x 29.45 mm
– Thickness: 5.92 mm
– Jewels: 38
– Barrel arbour: in AP 20 steel
– Balance: Glucydur®, 2 arms and 4 setting weights, moment of inertia 4.8 mg•cm2, angle of lift 53°
– Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
– Balance spring: elinvar
– Shock protection: INCABLOC 908.22.211.100 (transparent)

Carbon TPT® and Quartz TPT® are exclusive materials with a unique appearance. Their remarkable surface displays elegant striations, as they are composed of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by dividing carbon fibres or silica threads.
These layers, with a maximum thickness of 45 microns, are impregnated with resin then woven on a special machine that modifies the direction of the weft by 45° between layers. Heated to 120°C at a pressure of 6 bars, these materials are then ready to be processed on a CNC machine at Richard Mille’s case factory.
The case is water resistant to 50 metres, ensured by two Nitrile O-ring seals. The case is assembled with 20 spline screws in grade 5 titanium and abrasion-resistant washers in 316L stainless steel.

In grade 5 titanium and Carbon TPT® with O-ring seal in rubber.

Upper flange: the hours index points filled with approved luminous material
Lower flange : in microblasted grade 5 titanium black treated

Bezel side:
– In sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with anti-glare treatment (both sides)
– Thickness: 1.50 mm
Back side:
– In sapphire (1,800 Vickers) with anti-glare treatment (both sides)
– Thickness: 1.20 mm


Baseplate in wet-sandblasted grade 5 titanium, grey electroplasma treated
Bridges in hand-ground grade 5 titanium, wet-sandblasted and Titalyt® or PVD treated
Locking sections hand polished
Burnished pivots
Pinions with undercuts

Screw slot and screw bevelled and polished with rounded and polished tip
Straight line grain finish of the upper surface
Lower surfaces microblasted

Diamond-cut angles
Circular-grained and rhodium-plated wheels bevelled (before cutting the teeth)
Minimal corrections applied to the wheels in order to preserve geometry and performance

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