What could be cooler than securing a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title in front of a packed crowd? Maybe doing it while wearing the USD$1,050,00 (AUD$1,500,000) Richard Mille timepiece that was designed specifically for you. Unsurprisingly, only one man can lay claim to that honour and this week, it went to 2022 Australian Open Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
In a stunning come from behind victory, Nadal took down Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a five-set epic that lasted five and a half hours in Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. After going down two sets to love, the Spaniard turned up the heat and managed to knock off his opponent in trademark style, rewriting the history books in the process. But for watch nerds looking on, there was a different star that captured the limelight.
Throughout the tournament, the tennis dynamo wore a Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, a 50-piece limited edition with an eye-watering pricetag. A favourite of Nadal’s, the piece also made an appearance at the recent French Open, however, this marked a decidedly more momentous occasion.
At its core, the RM 27-04 is a tennis player’s dream. Featuring a grade 5 titanium tourbillon movement that is held in place by a single 0.27mm steel cable, which is woven into a net to symbolise the structure of a tennis racket.
“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,” Richard Mille wrote. “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.”
Case-wise, the TitaCarb composite, a high-performance polyamide that has been reinforced with up to 38.5% carbon fibre and woven fabric strap, drops the overall weight to just 30g, making it hardly noticed on-wrist. But perhaps the most ingenious part of the RM 27-04 is the ability to withstand pressure.
Where most automatic watches are not designed to be worn during sport, Rafael Nadal’ watch is crafted specifically to stay in suspension within its case. As a result, the calibre RM27-04 can withstand accelerations of over 12,000 g’s, which the iconic watchmaker claims is a new resistance record at Richard Mille.
When it comes to fine watchmaking, Richard Mille has also pushed the boundaries of what is achievable in a high-performance setting. After 10 years working alongside Rafael Nadal, what better way to ring in the milestone than with a record-shattering performance lauded the world over? Anyone got a spare $1.5 million?