Richard Mille’s Latest Rafael Nadal Watch Is A Record-Setter In Terms Of Weight And Toughness

The partnership between watch brand Richard Mille and tennis player Rafael Nadal is a slightly curious one. Tennis is not without its glitz and glamour, but Nadal was always relatively down-to-earth—the type who seemed to be more likely found fishing than in a nightclub. He has lived his whole life in his hometown of Manacor, on the Spanish island of Mallorca—as opposed to moving to, say, Monte Carlo, like so many successful sportspersons. On the other hand, Monte Carlo is exactly where Richard Mille watches are meant to be found. The brand has long been seen as a high point of glam and luxury, creating technically ambitious timepieces with bold aesthetics and extraordinary cost.

It has been a long-standing partnership, however, one that began in 2008 when Richard Mille—the brand’s eponymous founder—first approached the tennis legend. Aside from the genuine friendship between the two, the brand’s ambitious technical drive is actually well-suited to Nadal. Unlike some other player-watch collaborations, Nadal has indeed worn his Richard Mille watches throughout his matches, which means they need to be extremely lightweight and extremely durable, especially considering his exceptionally physical playstyle.

Over the past 14 years, the Richard Mille RM 027 collection has been tailored to these needs. It began with the RM 027 Tourbillon, which weighed less than 20 grams and debuted on Nadal’s wrist at the 2010 French Open—a tournament which would be his seventh of 22 Grand Slam titles. Subsequent years would see successive models—the RM 27-01 (2013), the RM 27-02 (2015), the RM 27-03 (2017) and the RM 27-04 (2020)—be tourbillon-equipped watches that pushed the boundaries of weight and durability.

The latest model arrived this year: the RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, which is limited to 80 pieces. It weighs just 11.5 grams and is able to withstand forces of up the 14,000g, both of which are record-setting for a manual winding tourbillon wristwatch. The case is made from a new type of Carbon TPT®, a layered carbon material and one that is denser, stiffer and stronger than its predecessors—all contributing factors to the weight savings and the watch’s slim profile of just 7.2mm in thickness. The ultra-thin calibre, which has a 55-hour power reserve and 3Hz flying tourbillon, is based on the one found in the RM UP-01 Ferrari, which set a record for slimness when it was released in 2022. The crystal is a polymer, as sapphire would have been too heavy, and even the strap was tweaked to save half a gram (though the 11.5 gram stated weight does not include the strap). Some 4,000 hours of work went into the watch’s development.

The RM27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal is the last watch in the RM 027 collection that will be created during his active career, but it may not be the last in the RM 035 collection. The 38-year-old has not won a title at any level since 2022, with his past two seasons beset by injuries and early exits. But it is his relentless fighting spirit that inspired this series of watches and, until the day he hangs up his racquet for good, it would be foolish to count him out.

Richard Mille

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