Considering how popular this Swiss watch brand is with celebrities, it is not a stretch to say that we have probably all heard of Richard Mille before. From Canadian rapper Drake and social media influencers like Logan Paul to K-pop idols like G-Dragon, Richard Mille watches have been spotted on the wrists of a great many famous stars.
However, if we are talking about the most influential name that pops up whenever Richard Mille is mentioned, then it would have to be the Spanish professional tennis superstar, Rafael Nadal. As the only male tennis player who has set a record of winning 21 grand slam titles, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that Rafael Nadal is one of the most celebrated figures in the world. As such, it is little surprise that even an exclusive luxury watch brand like Richard Mille has chosen to pay tribute to Rafael Nadal with the release of the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal timepieces dedicated to the tennis superstar. In particular, we will review two of the most outstanding pieces in the lineup, the RM 27-04 and the RM 35-03, while also briefly going through the history of the long partnership between the Swiss watch brand and the legendary tennis icon. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal watches!
Richard Mille Rafael Nadal: Partnership Through Time and Sports
All the most iconic timekeepers in the world have their own unique backstories and the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal is no different. The partnership between Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal began in 2008 when the tennis star met watch brand Richard Mille’s founder and namesake for the first time.
It is said that for a long time, Nadal had refused to wear watches in general and that he was especially uncomfortable wearing watches while playing matches. Mille saw Nadal’s aversion to wristwatches as a challenge to overcome, making it his mission to persuade the world’s top male tennis player about the benefits of watches.
Mille’s efforts eventually paid off. In 2010, two years after their first encounter, Mille presented Nadal with a timepiece created specifically for him: the RM 027 RN Tourbillon. This timepiece was the first watch to be known as the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal. In the same year, Nadal began sporting Richard Mille watches and became the official ambassador of the luxury watchmaker, a title which he continues to hold to this very day.
RM 027 RN Tourbillon
The RM 027 RN Tourbillon was the first-ever watch dedicated to the tennis legend. At first glance, the watch appears to be on the heavy side because of its apparent chunky size. It is housed in a 48mm x 39.7mm x 11.85mm case, giving it quite a substantial presence on the wrist. That said, this watch is actually made out of a black carbon composite material which makes it much lighter than it looks. Weighing only 18 grams, this timepiece is a highly efficient accessory both on and off the tennis court. Its sophisticated skeleton dial only adds to the stylishness of the piece.
This all-black glory was a limited-edition watch, with only 50 pieces released worldwide. As befitting its exclusive status, the RM 027 RN Tourbillon had an exorbitant price tag of around $525,500 USD.
Upon its release, Nadal started to continuously wear the RM 027 RN Tourbillon in his games. Fun fact: he even wore it during the 2011 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Open, where he won and secured the grand title. In the same year, after Nadal had won this tournament and played in several more games, Richard Mille personally donated his version of the RM 027 RN Tourbillon to be auctioned off in Monaco. By the end of the auction night, it had been sold for a price of €510,000 euros, or around $530,000 USD.
In the next section of the article, we will be discussing two more Richard Mille Rafael Nadal timepieces that honor the world-renowned professional athlete: the RM 27-04 and the RM35-03. Make sure to stick around as we delve deep into these awesome watches.
RM 27-04 & RM 35-03: First Impressions
As part of its ongoing collaboration with and tribute to the distinguished athlete, Richard Mille has continued releasing more Richard Mille Rafael Nadal timepieces. Two of these watches include the RM 27-04 Tourbillon and the RM 35-03.
RM 27-04 Tourbillon: The RM 27-04 Tourbillon was released in September 2020. It is a limited-edition Richard Mille watch, with only 50 pieces released worldwide. It was launched in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the partnership between Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal. This timepiece has a rather funky appeal, with a soft, blue tone strap blends in well with the skin when worn. On top of that, the RM 27-04 Tourbillon also shows off vibrant red and orange accents, which add to the visual appeal of the watch while also giving it more of a quirky edge.
RM 35-03: The RM 35-03 is one of the most recent Richard Mille Rafael Nadal timepieces, released in just December 2021. This watch exudes a sturdy, masculine vibe, all thanks to its robust, meticulously textured case ridges. The watch itself is a refreshing sight with its clean white casing and light blue strap. Despite its rugged build, the white and light blue color combination provides an extraordinary charming aesthetic.
On the whole, you can tell that both of these Richard Mille Rafael Nadal timepieces simply ooze elegance and grandeur. With the RM 27-04 Tourbillon and the RM 35-03, the brand has excellently encapsulated the idea of luxury and power into two fashionable timepieces.
Without further ado, let us have an in-depth look at the RM 27-04 Tourbillon before we proceed with an examination of the RM 35-03 afterward.
Anatomy of the RM 27-04:
Case and Caseback
The case of the RM 27-04 comes in the usual Richard Mille tonneau shape, which is an identifying trait of all of the watches from the luxury brand. This dark brown case is made from a well-built construction composed of titanium and an exact 38.5% carbon fiber content. Patented as the “TitaCarb”, these materials give the RM 27-04 an extraordinarily lightweight yet durable build. This case weighs a feather-light 30 grams. To give context, it weighs just as much as a slice of one single loaf of bread!
In addition, the brand’s use of the TitaCarb technology also makes this case incredibly robust. It is extremely resistant to impacts, shocks, sweat, and moisture. This makes the RM 27-04 perfect for sports activities and worthy of the tennis champion that it is named after. This TitaCarb material is also very effective in combating fluctuating temperature changes. The durability of the RM 27-04 is a testament to how meticulously Richard Mille crafts its timepieces.
On the underside of the RM 27-04, you can find a sapphire crystal caseback. This protects the watch’s inner mechanisms while also giving wearers a clear view of the movement inside. The caseback is also carefully engraved with the name of the Richard Mille brand, along with the serial number of the watch.
A highlight of the RM 27-04, the watch’s large, orange-toned crown is a magnificent beauty in itself. This chunky crown has a concave black tip and is surrounded by a layer of thick orange rubber, with textured sides that allow wearers to grip and turn the crown without any hassle. The bright orange of the crown stands out clearly against the darker watch case, making for a lively contrast. This crown is also safely secured by a nitrile o-ring seal, which prevents any moisture from getting into the watch.
Even with the vibrancy of the rest of the watch, the RM 27-04’s dial is still a true highlight. It showcases a prominent string pattern that cleverly mimics the net of a tennis racket. The cable of the string pattern is made from a flexible steel material, which completely achieves its goal of initiating a racquet’s mesh.
This dial also shows off a sophisticated skeleton display, which is one of Richard Mille’s trademark aesthetics. This dial is decorated with small triangular hour indices, along with arrows and turnbuckles that all come in a vivid red hue. The skeletal red and silver hands also help add to the stylish look of this watch. A layer of sapphire crystal guards the watch face, keeping it safe from any scratches or impacts.
The RM 27-04 is coupled with a handsome, pastel blue nylon strap. Thanks to its fabric makeup, the strap is able to resist water quite well, so you do not have to worry about sweating when you are wearing this watch. Even if it ends up becoming damp due to moisture, this nylon strap will dry out quite fast.
This strap is also equipped with velcro closures on both ends, which makes it very easy to both wear and remove. Not only does it provide a very snug fit, but these velcro fasteners also come in handy when the strap needs to be adjusted from time to time.
Despite being a very sporty timepiece, the RM 27-04 is not actually designed as a waterproof watch. As such, while it is very lightweight and easy to wear, the RM 27-04 is bound by some limitations that make it less suitable for use in water. This watch has a depth rating of 50 meters, so it can only survive some light splashes and showers. Wearers are not advised to wear the RM 27-04 when they go for their swimming or diving trips.
The RM 27-04 is driven by an in-house Richard Mille Caliber RM 27-04. Fitted with 19 jewels, this is a tourbillon movement that beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz). It also has an adequate power reserve of 38 hours.
The best part about the Richard Mille Caliber RM 27-04 is that it is capable of withstanding extreme acceleration forces of up to 12,000 g’s. As a result, no matter what kind of extreme pressure you put this watch under, this durable caliber will stay suspended and intact under the exposed steel mesh of the dial.
Given that the RM 27-04 is from an ultra-luxury watch brand and that it is an exclusive model with only 50 pieces available globally, it is no surprise that this watch retails at quite an exorbitant price. Indeed, this Richard Mille Rafael Nadal watch is only really intended for those who can afford Richard Mille’s sky-high price tags. The price for the RM 27-04 is set at a whopping $1,050,000 USD.
Anatomy of the RM 35-03:
Case and Caseback
The soft white case of the RM 35-03 is made up of a combination of quartz TPT and carbon TPT.
These two materials produce an ultra-lightweight and thin byproduct, which serves as the main makeup of the watch case. This byproduct can also be easily molded, which is why the case of this watch has very robust, cleanly structured edges. Furthermore, due to the expensiveness of quartz TPT and carbon TPT materials, Richard Mille is known for being the only brand in the world to use them in its watches. This adds to the exclusive status of the RM 35-03.
This watch case also comes with two pushers. Unlike most timepieces which place all the pushers on the right side of the case, the RM 35-03 has a Selector button at 2 o’clock and another push button at 7 o’clock which you can use to control the timepiece’s Sport Mode function.
Flipping the RM 35-03 over, you will see a transparent sapphire crystal caseback. Aside from giving you a clear view of the spectacle that is the RM 35-03’s movement, this caseback is also engraved with Richard Mille’s brand stamp.
A sizable crown sits on the right side of the RM 35-03’s watch case, placed neatly next to the Selector button. It is rubbed in a layer of light blue rubber, which provides wearers with a good grip when setting the watch. The textured molding of the rubber coating also prevents your fingers from slipping as you wind this crown.
Like the RM 27-04, the dial of this watch shows off a complex skeleton display. This display takes the shape of a subtle yet enchanting butterfly silhouette, adding to the sophistication of the RM 35-03. It is also furnished with white Arabic numeral markers and tiny triangular indices in bright yellow.
Along with silver skeleton hands for the hours and minutes, this dial also contains two small red hands. The hand between 2 and 3 o’clock indicates which of the three modes the watch is currently in winding (W), neutral (N), or hand-setting (H). These modes can be operated using the Selector button at 2 o’clock. A second red hand, placed at 6 o’clock, is used to indicate whether the rotor is turned or not. This can be controlled using the Sport Mode pusher on the left side of the case.
The RM 35-03 is equipped with a light blue strap that is made from high-quality rubber. Designed to wrap tightly around the wrist, the ends of the watch are firmly secured using a stainless steel metal buckle. As a nice touch, this strap also matches the color of the watch’s crown, creating a nice visual symmetry.
Just like any other Richard Mille watch, the RM 35-03 can easily be used as a versatile sports watch or a dress watch. That said, with a depth rating of only 50 meters, the RM 35-03 is not a great choice for wearers who frequently engage in water-based activities.
The RM 35-03 is powered by an in-house Richard Mille Caliber RMAL2. Held together by 38 jewels, this movement has a beat frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz). In addition, it boasts an impressive power supply of 55 hours.
The most striking thing about the Richard Mille Caliber RMAL2 is its eye-catching butterfly build, with the rotor designed to resemble a butterfly’s wings. Using the watch’s Sport Mode function triggers the movement of the rotors, causing them to create the shape of a butterfly in flight.
Wearers can also use the Selector pusher at 2 o’clock to change the mode of the movement. You are given three options, winding (W): the watch can be wound; neutral (N): the watch is in an idle working state; and hand-setting (H): manual setting of time.
If there is such a thing as an entry-level watch in the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal collection, then this timepiece is surely it. The RM 35-03 sells at around $220,000 USD. While it is certainly not cheap, the RM 35-03 is still much more affordable than some of the other entries in the Richard Mille Rafael Nadal lineup.
Even in the world of horology, which is dominated by known luxury watch brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe, Richard Mille definitely triumphs when it comes to establishing itself as the ultimate luxury watch brand. Known for its complex, luxurious designs and out-of-this-world prices, Richard Mille has loudly defined itself as more than just another luxury watch manufacturer.
The Richard Mille Rafael Nadal collection is a testament to the brand’s status and prestige. This collaborative effort between Richard Mille and one of the world’s greatest tennis players has produced a series of extremely well-crafted watches, including the RM 27-04 and the RM 35-03. If you are a superfan of Rafael Nadal, or if you want a high-caliber watch that aptly represents your lavish lifestyle, then these Richard Mille Rafael Nadal watches should definitely be on your radar.
All images courtesy of Richard Mille and WatchProSite.