It was a few years ago now when Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal first made global news headlines, announcing a partnership that would see the latter sporting an incredible US$525,000 timepiece during all his professional matches.
The news was met with a mixture of awe and disbelief and it seems that the ensuing years have done little to dull this sense of wonderment. Nadal’s continued success on court, and the fact that his famous timepiece has been sensationally stolen or lost twice already has only added to the legend, creating a perfect storm of publicity for the brand. In return for this loyal service, Richard Mille has awarded Nadal with a new timepiece this year, the RM 027-01 ‘Rafael Nadal Watch.’
Presented in a super light-weight carbon case, the RM027-01 is not just an update of the existing RM027, but rather a completely new beast altogether. For this piece Mille has developed a complex cable and pulley system that essentially uses tension to suspend the movement in the middle of the case.
To achieve this unusual design the baseplate of the movement has been attached to the case by four braided steel cables measuring 0.35mm in diameter. The cables are held taut by a series of tensioners, located at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and pulleys positioned at the four corners of the movement.
Each cable is fixed to a tensioner before passing over the upper pulley and into the movement before returning to the lower pulley. The cables are then tensioned by rotating a central tensioner ring, ensuring everything is held firmly in place. It certainly gives new meaning to the term suspended movement!
Sadly though the watch has a solid carbon case-back – the official explanation for which I imagine has something to do with saving weight – which makes it significantly more difficult to appreciate the complex engineering of the movement from all angles. Presumably though you could request a sapphire case-back specifically from the manufacturer if you so wanted, as let’s face it, when we’re talking this sort of price range nothing should be out of the question.
As you would expect the movement is extremely light, weighing in at just 3.5 grams. This is made possible through the use of titanium for the baseplate and tourbillon carriage as well as aluminum-lithium for the barrel bridges and gear trains. Incredibly the entire piece weighs even less than the original, coming in at just 19 grams including the Velcro strap! Unfortunately though it’s not any more legible.
Limited to just 50 pieces worldwide, expect the price to be comparable to the original.
The Final Word
Although suspending things using tension is not a particularly groundbreaking concept from an engineering point of view (think of some of the world’s most famous bridges) this is still undeniably another cool creation from Richard Mille, and I am sure the RM 027-01 and its famous ambassador will undoubtedly continue to garner global publicity for the brand in the years to come.