Conceived for the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Richard Mille and Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal, the RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal is an ultra-light, ultra-exotic, and ultra-expensive mechanical wristwatch.
Equipped with a hand-wind movement suspended on a dense network of steel cables within the case, the RM 27-04 has the greatest shock resistance of any Richard Mille wristwatch, or about 12,000 g. And its case is carbon composite, which combined with the skeletonised movement, means it weighs as much as a few sheets of paper.
While the recent RM 72-01 chronograph went in a different direction than usual for Richard Mille – it’s equipped with a new, in-house movement with an unusual, double oscillating pinion construction – the RM 27-04 is very much in keeping with the brand’s spirit.
The RM 27-04 is a more extreme version of what Richard Mille has done before, with more cables, more skeletonisation, and more advanced composites. And it is also US$1 million, give or take. Judged by what the brand does, the RM 27-04 is a successful product in concept and execution.
But more broadly speaking, Richard Mille has been all about such watches for several years now, so the RM 27-04 doesn’t feel that exciting or interesting.
Strung like a racquet
Weighing just 30 g including its strap – equivalent to about six sheets of A4 paper – the RM 27-04 takes the cable-suspension movement idea first used in the RM 27-01 – and then goes much, much further.
Like a tennis racquet, the RM 27-04 movement is anchored by a grid of interwoven braided steel wire just 0.27 mm in diameter. The wire is first anchored at via a rose-gold turnbuckle at five o’clock, then crisscrosses the movement, looping in and out of the bezel 38 times, and is finally secured with another gold turnbuckle located at 10 o’clock – all done by a watchmaker.
The movement, in turn, is secured to the wire mesh with five titanium hooks, which are screwed to the underside of the base plate.
According to Richard Mille, the wire-suspension construction gives the movement an exceptional shock resistance of over 12,000 g. In comparison, the navigation circuitry inside the artillery shell for a 155 mm howitzer is built to withstand 15,500 g (according to defence contract L3 via Wikipedia).
And in traditional Richard Mille style, the case is a carbon composite – carbon fibres suspended in a polymer. This time it’s a new composite named TitaCarb, which is distinguished by a relatively high carbon fibre content of 38.5% of its volume. The case is a single piece, with both crystals attaching directly to the case after the movement has been installed.
Key Facts and Price
Richard Mille RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Diameter: 38.40 mm by 47.25 mm
Thickness: 11.40 mm
Material: TitaCarb (carbon fibre composite)
Water resistance: 50 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, and tourbillon regulator
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 38 hours
Strap: Fabric with Velcro closure
Limited edition: 50 pieces
Availability: Now at boutiques
Price: Approximately US$1 million, excluding taxes
For more, visit Richardmille.com.
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