This year’s edition of the watch that Richard Mille made for its ambassador, the famed tennis player Rafael Nadal, is just like its predecessors innovative, light and extremely tough. However, Richard Mille RM 35-02 Rafael Nadal is at the same time quite unique when compared to the other models in the series. It is the first piece made in the collaboration with the Spaniard that possesses a self-winding movement. The new automatic caliber of the timepiece is skeletonized and it has all the common high-tech features that can be expected in models made by the Les Breuleux watchmaker. The colorful watch comes in a pair of variants, with its housing in either NTPT carbon or Quartz-TPT Red, where the latter option arguably seems more appealing since it is made in the process that was developed by the brand. Richard Mille RM 35-02 Rafa has the price tag of $135,000.
The DNA of the Rafa Nadal Collection
Richard Mille signed Rafa Nadal as its ambassador in 2008. Ever since then, the brand has been making specifically styled watches that celebrate the brand’s technical expertise. At the same time, these models were designed to be used during a tennis match. This required a specific set of characteristics, which was clear from the very beginning. The first piece that was the result of the collaboration was RM 027 that came in 2010. It was particularly light (at the time it was the lightest watch on the market) due to the use of clever technical solutions and modern materials. From that moment on, the same philosophy was visible in all of the following models of the Rafael Nadal series.
The latest model made for the tennis player is of the same sort, with its lightness just slightly compromised. This is due to the fact that it is actually the first one in the collection to be made with a self-winding movement. Even though this naturally raises its weight because of the added components (the manufacturer unfortunately does not precisely state the weight of the newcomer), it certainly makes the piece much more practical. This trait partially came as a result of the pressure of the collection’s fans. The aficionados of the series have been united in the demands for an automatic Rafael Nadal watch and Richard Mille naturally abided.
Another important trait of the models made for the tennis player was enhanced shock-resistance. Richard Mille RM 35-02 represents a great advantage in this direction since it has the ability to withstand ridiculously extreme forces, even up to 5,000 Gs. When one compares this to the first model in the edition which was safe up to 88 Gs, it is quite clear that the brand managed to make a humongous progress in this area, even though the initial resistance was more than enough. This, however, is not simply a question of functionality. It was an opportunity for the watchmaker to boast its technical expertise and ability to make a super resilient piece.
Not as Innovative as its Predecessors
Richard Mille RM 35-02 Rafael Nadal is not as groundbreaking as some of its predecessors were (for example the premier piece was the first model of the manufacturer to employ a carbon nanotubes case, while the RM 027-01 that followed featured a cable suspended movement. In the terms of general functions, RM 35-02 is heavily based on one of the previous pieces in the series, RM 35-01, and it sports a very similar beating heart (with the addition of the automatic winding mechanism). When it comes to the choice of materials for the case, it is pretty similar to the last watch in the series, RM 27-02, which was also available in NTPT carbon and Quartz TPT (and made with a specific “unibody” structure). However, the latter of the materials was available in its more basic white color, while the one used for the newcomer was additionally treated to create a red body with white accents.
Quartz TPT Red – Both Striking and as Tough as It Gets
In the essence of the new material is the meld of a red resin and white quartz. Extremely thin sheets of silicon (not thicker than 45 microns) are treated with a red resin which was made by Richard Mille (this resin was previously used in the creation of Richard Mille RM Red Demon). The sheets are layered in the process that switches the direction of each of the following one by 45 degrees. Subsequently, the structure is heated to 120 degrees centigrade and exposed to pressure of six bars. The end result is the material which is light, resilient and hypoallergenic. In addition, the newly developed red resin that is mixed with the whiteness of the undyed quartz looks very striking. When one looks at the case-band of Richard Mille, it is possible to see the sheets that were used in the construction of the structure which is another cool trait. Richard Mille made this material together with the specified brand called ProArt.
The modern housing of Richard Mille RM 35-02 Rafael Nadal is barrel shaped. It is 49.94 mm long, 44.5 mm wide and 13.15 mm thick. The construction of the timepiece with the fixed bezel is secured with 20 titanium screws and steel washers, while the crown is made in NTPT carbon with a ring in another modern material, Alcryn. This sort of crown is present in both variants. The housing of the watch is waterproof to 50 meters and it is additionally made with sapphire crystals on both sides. The crystal on the front shows a carbon flange with indices, a pair of skeleton hands with luminous tips, as well as a central seconds hand. However, the dial (with the inscription that states “RM 35-02 RAFA” at the nine o’clock position) has the exposed movement in the spotlight.
New Automatic Caliber
It is new RMAL1 self-winding mechanical and skeletonized movement with three hands as its sole functions. As it has been mentioned, the movement with 32 jewels has many of the modern features that are commonly seen in Richard Mille products. It includes main-plate and bridges made in grade 5 titanium that were wet sand-blasted and subsequently PVD/Titalyt treated to create surfaces which are at the same time extraordinarily rigid and smooth. Moreover, Caliber RMAL1 possesses a free sprung balance with variable inertia that facilitates the servicing and improves its accuracy. The supported frequency of the caliber is 4 Hz.
Another impressive trait is a rotor with variable inertia that allows the adjustment of the winding rate to the wearer’s level of activity. The proprietary system developed by the brand is made of titanium (grade 5 and grade 2 on various sections), white gold that is used for the weight segment, as well as with ceramic ball bearings. Not only that the movement has the mechanism that adjusts the level of winding if it is necessary, it also has a double barrel system that stabilizes the torque throughout its 55 hour long power reserve. The movement is 30.25 mm long, 28.45 mm wide and just 3.15 mm thick. As expectedly, its appearance is further improved with a host of decorations and finishes.
The latest Richard Mille timekeeper made in the collaboration which is the first one in the series with an automatic caliber and a transparent case-back is paired with a yellow strap. The combination of a red case and a yellow attachment is quite logical since it matches the colors of the Spanish flag.