The one-minute tourbillon runs at 3 Hertz, making 6 semi-oscillations every second, a feat it can perform for 70 hours (+/- 10% according to Richard Mille), before the fast-rotating barrel has to be manually rewound. The balance wheel is, of course, free sprung with variable moment of inertia screws – a regular setting mechanism would most likely get out of adjustment after the first few shocks, while the tiny, weighted screws set into the periphery of the balance wheel will help it maintain its poise.
As I said, all this is set onto a unibody baseplate in carbon TPT, which is composed of multiple parallel layers of filaments, each measuring maximum 30 microns. To save weight – so as to make the watch a more comfortable and less obtrusive item for Rafa to wear while competing – this multi-layer carbon plate has been skeletonized, an absolute pain in the neck to do as this super hard material first eats up drilling heads and then, when one half of it is machined, is extremely difficult to fix securely so that the other, raw segment can be worked on.
Over all this Carbon TPT goodness are the Grade 5 titanium bridges – that means an alloy of 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. The light, one-piece bridge over the movement helps keep everything secure, fastening the mainspring, gear train, and tourbillon onto the carbon foundations. Richard Mille has added an unusual design element to its movement with the top parts that evoke the forward-facing head of a bull, a symbol of Spain and also Nadal’s chosen emblem. The RM027 collection has always been about high-tech engineering above all else, so now, after a wide range of pieces dedicated to Rafa, the brand at least seems to be getting a bit more playful not just with colors (another choice made as a tribute to the Spaniard), but also some other elements. While it looks cool, I guess, I would have preferred this to be excluded, simply because what I have always enjoyed in Richard Mille watches was their tireless and undivided focus on technicality, where crazy styling elements always come from some equally bonkers 22nd-century technology.
Anyhow, wearing comfort should be excellent thanks to the ultra-light case, movement, and strap – though this time around Richard Mille chose not to disclose the weight of the piece. The focus this time appears to have been on the much-improved strength and durability and not on saving weight, which is why the RM 27-03 is likely a few grams heavier than its predecessors.
The strap on the Richard Mille RM 27-03 Rafael Nadal is what the brand calls a “comfort strap,” which is made from an elastic material, likely very similar to what we saw on the record-light RM 50-03 McLaren tourbillon chronograph (hands-on here). If that’s the case – and why wouldn’t it be? – then the RM 27-03 is going to be among the most comfortable watches ever. With a case of just 40.30mm wide and 47.77mm lug-to-lug and of almost imperceptible weight, plus this self-adjusting elastic strap, I don’t think we’ll see Nadal adjust it on his wrist too many times during a match.
Limited to 50 pieces, price for the Richard Mille RM 27-03 Rafael Nadal is CHF 766,800, including 8% tax. richardmille.com