Initially a purely professional rapport, the collaboration between the 12-time French Open winner and the founder of the brand that bears his name has since turned into a solid friendship. A ‘ very special’ relationship, according to the Majorcan, this friendship grows constantly from their mutual trust and admiration for their respective careers.
Two men, each with a dream. A dream of pushing back the boundaries of time, or those of performance. One of them on clay, keeping his eyes on the ball; the other with his face turned to time itself, his heart pounding. Yet both combine technique, harmony and accuracy while resisting the hard knocks, and inevitable shocks of sporting life.
For Rafael Nadal, ‘unstoppable’ is the word that best expresses the spirit of Richard Mille and his teams. Achieving the impossible. This has been the brand’s credo for the past decade in designing the unique pieces worn by the Spaniard on the world’s tennis courts. And the latest product of their partnership, the RM 27-04, is no exception to this golden rule.
Skeletonised Baseplate and Bridges in Grade 5 Titanium
The baseplate and bridges are crafted from grade 5 titanium, a biocompatible, highly corrosion-resistant and remarkably rigid alloy, which guarantees the perfect functioning of the gear train.
The alloy is 90% titanium, 6% aluminium and 4% vanadium. The use of grade 5 titanium combined with a black PVD treatment lends the whole assembly great rigidity, as well as precise surface flatness. This combination enhances the alloy’s mechanical properties, which explains why it is frequently used in the aerospace, aeronautics and automobile industries.
The skeletonised baseplate and the bridges were subjected to demanding and extensive validation tests to ensure they meet the most rigorous strength requirements
This calibre is based on a microblasted string mesh that is brand new to watchmaking. Formed from a single woven steel cable measuring just 0.27 mm in diameter and held in place by two turnbuckles featuring a 5N gold PVD treatment, this 855 mm2 string mesh supports the entire calibre.
Inspired by the process used to string a tennis racket, the watchmaker starts by securing the steel cable to the turnbuckle at 5 o’clock. He then proceeds to weave the mesh structure, stringing each of the main strings one after the other before beginning to interlace the cross strings.
Weaving over and under the main strings, the cable enters the hollowed-out titanium flange 38 times before ultimately finishing its journey in the turnbuckle at 10 o’clock. The regular angles formed by these strings limit excessive friction and localised wear on the main strings during the many impacts sustained over the course of a tennis match.
The movement is then connected to the string mesh via five polished grade 5 titanium hooks with a 5N gold PVD treatment, which originate at the back of the baseplate. Designed to stay in suspension within its case, the calibre RM27-04 can withstand accelerations of over 12,000 g’s : a new resistance record at Richard Mille.
The case is made from a brand new material exclusive to Richard Mille: TitaCarb®. It is a high-performance polyamide that has been reinforced with up to 38.5% carbon fibre by the teams at Richard Mille and at its loyal partner, Biwi SA. Thanks to this injection of carbon, TitaCarb® offers an exceptional tensile strength of 370 MPa, (3,700 kg/cm2).
In addition to its elevated fracture resistance – which is close to that of steel – this material, used in the most demanding industries, is ideal for machining the components of this case. Its solidity and rigidity, coupled with its low thermal expansion coefficient and high resistance to humidity and temperature make it the ideal material for meeting the specifications of a watch intended to venture out on court with Rafael Nadal.