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Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

For 2014, Richard Mille has released yet another model in the new series of Rafael Nadal timepieces called the RM 35-01. Back in 2010, Richard Mille wowed not just the watch industry but the world when he placed a tourbillon-based timepiece on the Spanish tennis champion’s wrist to be worn while playing the sport. Nadal not only famously earned trophies while wearing the $500,000-plus limited edition RM027 watch, but also lost/broke a few along the way.

What made the original RM027 watch so special was its weight. I forget the precise record it set (as so many of these records come and go), but I am pretty sure it was the lightest mechanical or tourbillon-based mechanical watch ever made as, it made use of an exotic lithium-alloy based case material. The idea was that it was light enough not to hamper Nadal’s game, and durable enough to withstand it. From a marketing perspective, it was genius. Several years later, Richard Mille decided to continue the Nadal saga by releasing a follow-up model with the RM 27-01 series of watches that were available in a few colors. A bit larger and more interesting looking than the original, the RM 27-01 was actually one gram lighter, being just 19 grams. It also made use of a unique tension cable system to secure the tourbillon movement in place, making it more shock resistant. Also limited to just 50 pieces, the RM 27-01 made the original RM027 sound like a bargain, with a retail price of $690,000. That trend now changes for 2014.

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

What struck me about Richard Mille’s newest offerings were the prices. Of course Richard Mille watches will always be at the “cutting edge of exclusive,” but some of the newest models were in the $100,000 range versus the $500,000 – $700,000 range. As such, the biggest mechanical difference between the 2014 RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal and previous series models is the lack of a tourbillon. Can the watch really be a “Nadal” without a tourbillon? In fact, Richard Mille has made it a point to imbue most of its athlete watches with tourbillon-based movements. While the brand is really at its most “Mille” with a tourbillon, I think some of the brand’s non-tourbillon movements are its finest.

While visually very satisfying, the Caliber RMUL3 movement inside of the RM 35-01 is relatively simple, offering just the time with hours, minutes, and seconds. It is manually wound and has a power reserve of about 55 hours. Most of the movement is made from titanium bridges and it operates at a frequency of 4 Hz (28,800 bph). Again, this is a more basic Richard Mille movement, but still has a lot of the visual technical style people have come to expect from the brand.

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal NTPT Carbon Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Rather than focus on movement innovation, the RM 35-01 is part of a few new watches for 2014 that showcase a new material Richard Mille is using for cases. They call it NTPT carbon, and we debuted it here late in 2013. “NTPT” stands for the company which produces it; that is North Thin Ply Technology, which is actually based in Switzerland. The material is a specially layered carbon composite that is technically a high-tech laminate. Using many layers, it has been used for a series of industrial and sport purposes such as for America’s Cup boats. It happens to have the unique quality of looking like Damascus steel when produced in the right way.


Damascus steel is a layered metal that (especially) when acid treated shows of the various layers and is said to have a “wood grain” style texture. Damascus steel is used in certain watches such as those produced by Gustafsson & Sjogren (Gos), and is often prized by collectors for its visual style. Now Richard Mille has its own “Damascus” material with the interesting look of NTPT carbon, which in this case is colored black. I have a feeling that the material can be in most any color, though I haven’t been able to verify that.



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  • Isn’t it wonderful to a watch geek and appreciate the NTPT case and almost negative number of grams that it weighs? Those poor regular folks in the world would just see a plastic teenage boy’s watch and would think you were joking if you told them that this was a  6 figure watch. So high tech it looks like a kid’s toy watch. How under the radar is that?

  • DG Cayse

    Is this a pre-release prototype?
    One wonders what it will actually look like when it is finished.

  • Jonah76

    Good sarcasm 🙂

  • Zeitblom

    One day the truth will emerge: Richard Mille is a Marxist conspiracy designed to make rich people look stupid.

  • Kris C

    Why do we never mention the ugly records these watches keep breaking? 

    And, for the record, Bubba Watson wears it better than Nadal.

  • ZL

    I’d like to see it on a leopard patterned strap.

  • Victore

    Zeitblom Love the comment… so true

  • Zeitblom LMFAO

  • antjay

    Looks like a power rangers prop !

  • mcv1973a

    Good call… but I think zebra stripes might work better… IMO.

  • mcv1973a

    I wish I could hit the like tab more than once.

  • spiceballs

    Interesting material and maybe the higher-paid tennis pros can afford stuff like this.  For me  a plastic-cased Casio would work just as well (and probably be more accurate) if I really had to wear a watch while playing tennis.

  • Jonah76

    How about ivory or whale bone so the owner can pretend they fashioned the watch following a successful hunting expedition?

  • spiceballs

    Jonah76 well said Jonah – sorry couldn’t resist 🙂

  • Ulysses31

    As a known hater of RM and wanting to change my evil ways, i’ll try to point out the few things I like about it.  I like the case material.  It does look good.  The watch would be better for following through with the “stealthed” theme that people fawn over so much in other timepieces, by skipping on the RED and the YELLOW, which I maintain against popular opinion makes a watch (or anything really) look like an emergency vehicle or a life-preserver or some other not-intended-to-be-incredibly-beautiful object.  Hands could be longer and less stubby.  Like seeing a guy at the gym with a muscular torso but chicken legs, it looks a bit pathetic.  The bolts/screws that hang off the edges are not to my fancy either.  I don’t like it when Ebel do it and I don’t like it here.  When did you last see a review of anything by Ebel on this blog by the way?  Wait, scratch that – I just looked at their website – their collections are mostly gaudy crap now.  Forget I mentioned them.  Oh yeah, back to RM.  Velcro is crap, sorry.  How about a strap made from thin layers of that flexible magnetic rubber they use to make fridge magnets… flexible, secure and silent in operation if they embedded that in a silicone strap.  

    After that glowing praise of their product, I expect one of these watches to be winging its way to me, literally, attached to the leg of a carrier pigeon.  It’s just THAT light, you know?  Because the biggest downer in my life, the source of my suicidal rage-filled thoughts… is those god-damn mother^&*%ing GRAMS.

  • Ulysses31 Yes, it’s so light you won’t even notice it when you slit your wrists! Now how many watches can market themselves like that? I agree on the accent colors making for an emergency vehicle look. I guess for as much as the watch will cost, I would expect it to look, I dunno, maybe classy?

  • Kris C

    Ulysses31 yellow + red = McDonalds.  No thank you.

  • mcv1973a

    I like the way you think… have I told you that?

  • mcv1973a

    Of course, RM will probably be labeled as an “innovator” for creating Damascus Plastic…

  • Kris C So instead of a “Quarter Pounder” this watch is a  “113th Pounder”.

  • Sporty watch and i think i will buy it for my son, lol.

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