Hands-on with the Richard Mille RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal

The lightest watch in the world

At SIHH 2013, Richard Mille unveiled the latest lightest watch ever, the RM027-01 Rafael Nadal. This weighs 19 g, including the Velcro strap. In comparison, the earlier RM027 weighed in at 13 g without strap, and just over 20 g with the rubber strap. Both are light enough that Rafael Nadal wears them on his right, non-playing wrist during matches.

The RM027-01 is the new undisputed champion in the segment of the featherweight luxury watch which Richard Mille pioneered. The watch is light because the case is made of carbon nanotubes in a polymer matrix while the crystal is polycarbonate. The case is a mottled grey colour, which is not as attractive as the all black RM027.

And the movement has a titanium base plate and aluminium-lithium bridges. Most interesting of all – and this is probably the most notable horological feature in this watch – the movement is suspended inside the case by steel cables.

Four tiny steel cables, each secured by a tensioner, run around the inside of the case, securing the movement in place. Once the movement is assembled and in place inside the case, the watchmaker tensions the cables via the central tensioner ring.

Mechanically the movement is typically of Richard Mille tourbillon movements, which are entirely made by AP Renaud & Papi. The finishing is simple and in keeping with the modern style of the watch.

Close-up of the tourbillon in the RM027-01

However, measuring 45.98 mm long and 38.90 mm wide, the RM027-01 is actually smaller than its predecessor, the RM027 which was 48 mm long and just under 40 mm wide. So its weight is not only a matter of materials, but also a decrease in overall volume. 50 pieces of the RM027-01 will be made with a retail price of approximately US$690,000, which is about a US$150,000 increase over its predecessor. Remember to check out my comprehensive photo report on the Richard Mille SIHH 2013 collection. – SJX

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Crowdsourcing a watch – The Nautilus from Czech forum Chronomag

It is not uncommon for watch forum communities to band together and create limited edition watches. Such editions are often ordinary; it is unusual to get something unique at a reasonable price. Two years ago, members of the Czech watch forum Chronomag embarked on a project to create a small run of wristwatches for forum members, with many of the eventual components of the watch being locally sourced as well. The result was the Nautilus, which proves a little bit of imagination can go a long way, even for something designed by committee.

Chronomag Nautilus equipped with the Unitas 6498

Housed in a 42 mm sandblasted steel case – made by a friend of one of the project’s leaders – with a Unitas 6498 inside, the Nautilus is named after the Nautilus submarine of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaThe fixed bezel is attached by rivets, resembling a porthole, and at six o’clock is Captain Nemo’s motto “Mobilis in Mobili”. The single most expensive component of the watch was the dial, which was made in Switzerland by a dial specialist.

Most striking of all is the seconds hand in the forum of a rose gold plated propeller. It has a diameter of 10 mm and is only 0.08 mm high. The hands, which were made by a Czech goldsmith, and applied indices are also plated in rose gold. The manufacturer of the propeller, however, remains a secret. Interestingly the sapphire crystal has a green antireflective coating on both sides.

According to Vojtech P., a member of Chronomag, all the components for the Nautilus were custom made, except for the movement.  The price was a reasonable 25,000 Czech Koruna, which is equivalent to about US$1290. 33 pieces were made and all have been sold to forum members. – SJX Thanks to Vojtech P. for the info about this project.

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