Tourbillon Rafael Nadal: the New Ace
After the decade of technological achievements and innovation that characterised the brand’s partnership with Rafael Nadal, Richard Mille continues to push the envelope for performance ever further. For 2020, the watchmaking firm presents a model that constitutes a worthy successor to the collector watches designed for the Spanish champion. The latest timepiece goes even further in terms of shock resistance, premieres a brand new TitaCarb® material and boasts an utterly groundbreaking look. A new ace in the collection dedicated to the King of Clay.
Reconciling lightness and resistance has always been the master challenge Richard Mille tackles in designing watches to be worn by Rafael Nadal. Weighing in at only 30 grammes including the strap, the RM 27-04 is no exception to this rule. And this new timepiece pushes the boundaries even further when it comes to resistance.
An evolution with undeniable links to on the cable-suspended mechanism of the RM 27-01, the RM 27-04’s tourbillon calibre with its in-case suspension system can resist accelerations of over 12,000 g’s. This new record was achieved in countless hours of tests, including the pendulum impact test, designed to simulate the linear accelerations that occur during sudden movements and shocks when worn.
This tourbillon calibre is supported entirely by a microblasted mesh measuring just 855 square millimetres. This miraculous grid consists of a single plaited steel cable just 0.27 mm in diameter and held in place by two 5N gold PVD-coated screw tighteners, an unprecedented construction in watch- making. Much like the strings of a racket, the watchmaker begins by tying the steel cable to the tightener at 5 o’clock.
He then weaves the mesh, attaching the cross strings alter- nately before interweaving the cable. Above and below the cross strings, the cable passes through the grade 5 titanium flange 38 times, finishing its journey in the tightener at 10 o’clock. The regular angles generated by this mesh prevent excessive friction and wear on the cross strings during the repeated impact and shock that occurs in a tennis match.
Positioned on the diagonal, the manual-winding movement is then connected to the mesh by five grade 5 polished titanium hooks with 5N gold PVD coating that extend from the back of the baseplate. The three dampeners in red Quartz TPT® situated on the chatons of the tourbillon, the barrel and the hands, centring the movement when it is installed and reducing any mesh vibrations.
But the unique nature of the RM 27-04 goes beyond its innovative mesh. The polished, microblasted case, water resistant to 50 metres is also excitingly new.
It is made from an exclusive material known as TitaCarb®, which complies with REACH standards for the safe manufacture and use of chemical substances in European industry. Frequently used in car manufacturing as well as in electronics, aeronautics and medicine, this high-performance polyamide has been reinforced by Richard Mille and its longstanding partner Biwi SA using 38.5% carbon fibre. The addition of carbon gives TitaCarb® exceptional tensile strength of 370 MPa (3,700 kg/cm2) making it one of the world’s strongest composite materials, with a breakage point close to that of steel.
Its unique brown colour, obtained by adding a just the right amount of pigment, and its look, immediately evoking the strings of a tennis racket, make this watch anything but a wallflower.
Its appeal is further bolstered by a bezel that has been hollowed out as extensively as possible, both to reduce weight and to lend the watch the greatest visual impact. The openwork hands have been pierced as much as pos- sible to create the same style and design as the racket strings.
The unibody case, cast in a single piece, makes for increased lightness and, above all, more solidity. The back crystal fits on directly and reveals the daring mechanism in all its raw beauty. A sizeable ally on court for the Spaniard, this model bears his nickname, ‘Rafa’, engraved on the case. A collector’s dream issued in an edition of just 50 pieces, this watch will accompany the Spanish champion on his quest for even more victories.
RM 27-04 in numbers
Number of hooks 5
Weight of the watch strap included
Number of vibration dampeners
Cable diameter 0.27 mm
Cable surface 855 mm2
Number of times the cable enters the hollowed-out flange 38
Cable length 569 mm
Movement weight 3.4 grams
Carbon fibre ratio in the TitaCarb® material
« I’m fascinated by the passion and talent of the people who create watches at Richard Mille. It’s so difficult to make a watch, assembling every component... it takes hours and hours of work. » Rafael Nadal
- Limited edition of 50 watches in TitaCarb® • RM27-04 calibre - Manual tourbillon movement - Case size: 38.70 x 47.25 x 11.40 mm - Power reserve: Approx. 38 hours (+ 10%)
- Skeletonised baseplate and bridges in grade 5 titanium - Cable-suspended mechanism - Variable-inertia balance - Rapid-rotation barrel - Barrel pawl with progressive recoil - Barrel and centre wheel pinion teeth with an involute profile - Spline screws in grade 5 titanium for the bridges and case
- Size of movement: 32.45 x 24.62 mm • Thickness: 5.85 mm
- Tourbillon diameter: 12.30 mm - Balance diameter: 10.00 mm - Number of rubies: 19 - Balance: Glucydur®, 2 arms, 4 setting screws - Moment of inertia: 11.50 mg.cm2, 53° angle of lift - Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz) - Balance spring: elinvar by Nivarox®
- Shock-proof system: KIF Elastor KE 160 B28 - Barrel arm in nickel-free Chronifer® (DIN x 46 Cr 13 + S) with the following properties: rustproof – non-magnetic – toughened
- Hand-polished chamfering
- Microblasted milling - Stretched upper sections
- Microblasted and polished surfaces
- Hand-polished chamfering - Stretched features - Blurred features - Stretched features on the sides - Polished mouldings
- Polished and lapped ends - Burnished pivots
- Diamond mouldings - Circular smoothing on surfaces
- Rhodium-plating (before sizing the teeth) - Minimal corrections applied to the wheels to ensure optimal geometry and performance.
The case is made in a material brand new to watchmaking and exclusive to Richard Mille: TitaCarb®.
It is frequently used in car manufacturing and metal applications because of its dimensional stability and consistent mechanical properties. This high-performance polyamide was reinforced by the Richard Mille teams and its long-term partner Biwi SA. It is made of polyamide and 38.5% carbon fibre.
The addition of carbon gives TitaCarb® exceptional tensile strength of 370 Mpa (3,700 kg/cm2).
As well as its exceptional resistance to breakage (close to that of steel), this material used in industries with the highest standards is ideal for machining the case components. Its solidity, rigidity, low coefficient of thermal expansion and high tolerance to temperature and humidity perfectly satisfy the specifications for a watch designed to compete on court on the wrist of Rafael Nadal.
The case and caseback are cast in a single piece, offering even greater solidity.
TitaCarb®, like all new materials developed and introduced to watchmaking by Richard Mille, complies with REACH standards for the safe manufacture and use of chemical substances in European industry. With its nitrile O-ring seal, the case is waterproof to 50 metres and is assembled with 12 grade 5 titanium spline screws with washers in 316L stainless steel.