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June 15, 2024

Richard Mille: RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

In 2010, the RM 027 Tourbillon was born as the answer to a challenge. It proved the prelude to an exciting adventure, the quest for remarkable lightness and superlative performance. With the RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal limited to only 80 pieces, this Richard Mille saga has reached a climactic conclusion. The watch weighs 11,5 grams excluding its strap and can withstand a g-force of 14,000, for a two-fold record for a manual winding tourbillon watch. 

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

The RM 27-05 project may have launched in 2019, but its story is rooted much earlier. This watch is the fruit of a meeting that has since grown into a true friendship.

I still remember the day in 2008 when Richard contacted me to discuss working together. It was unthinkable for me, as I’d never worn anything on my wrist. It all came together in 2010, when he came to visit me in Mallorca. As a joke,he first presented me with a very heavy platinum watch. When I reacted as you might expect, he quickly held up a prototype of the RM 027: a surprisingly light watch with spectacular lines,” recalled Rafa Nadal.

Rafael Nadal

Since then, Rafa has seized one victory after another with Mille watches on his wrist. Iterations of striving to make each successive model light and comfortable forged a close relationship between the champion and Richard Mille. Sharing experiences strengthens friendship and broadens one’s horizons. 

Technical progress and reflections on aesthetics have here pushed Richard Mille’s expertise to the limit. The RM 27-05 project was driven by an unwavering quest to eliminate weight and the result boasts an impressive technical data sheet. The movement, based on the ultra-thin RMUP-01 calibre, has a power reserve of 55 hours and incorporates a flying tourbillon that oscillates at a frequency of 3 Hz. Its PVD-treated titanium baseplate is optimally skeletonised and hand-finished, even the hidden parts. The bridges are also made of grade 5 titanium and Carbon TPT to make them even lighter. The calibre measures 3.75 mm thick and weighs just 3.79 grams. Tremendous thought has gone into the smallest details to achieve this objective. 

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

Thanks to a base fitted with ball bearings, the tourbillon retains its performance while making it possible to do away with a bridge. Making the barrel fly likewise fit with our need for lightness. Its extreme thinness, 0,72 mm thick, helped us to develop an extra-flat calibre with volume. The barrel was thus pressed into service of this singular aesthetic, a masterpiece of traditional craftsmanship,” shared Salvador. Arbona, Technical Director for Movements.

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

4,000 hours of work went into designing the calibre and case. We certainly didn’t stint on time when creating the RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal. While its sobriety does mark a return to the collection’s roots, rethinking the watchmaking process has been a leitmotiv at every stage of its development. Here, there are no screws holding the movement to the case. The entire mechanism rests inside the monobloc back/caseband unit, which is then topped by the flange and bezel. 

The whole assembly presses down on the calibre to hold it firmly in place. What gives this model a major advantage are the qualities of a new composite, Carbon TPT B.4, developed over the course of five years with our Swiss partner North Thin Ply Technology (NTPTTM). Carbon TPT B.4 is an optimised anisotropic material that makes it possible to machine the case to ever thinner cross-sections. Compared with earlier Carbon TPT, the new composite is 4% denser, the fibre 15% stiffer and the resin 30% stronger. These values make it possible to lighten the whole without losing stiffness. 

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

For optimum strength, Carbon TPT B.4 is woven in stacks using a specific 70° orientation between layers. Choosing this material guarantees the watch’s powerful architecture the best ratios, weight, performance and rigidity. It’s what makes it possible to follow the weave of the Carbon TPT B.4, creating an X-shaped ridge on the caseback that the movement rests on. Comprehensive simulations of the whole, including the case, resulted the calibre being positioned 5/100ths of a mm from the caseback on 6 support points, which contribute to the watch’s stiffness. This X pattern is visually reflected throughout the case, while guaranteeing the bezel, flange and monobloc caseback retain their properties regardless of circumstances. 

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

Finite element calculations, multiple simulations and analyses, tomography and numerous impact tests were used to confirm the relevance of each technical option over the course of the prototypes, endowing the RM 27-05 with extraordinary endurance at accelerations in excess of 14,000 g. 

All the research into materials contributed to this record resistance and lightness. Credit for this achievement is also due to our use of a crystal made of PMMA, a polymer with an anti-scratch treatment. Sapphire was too heavy for the challenge.” explained Julien Boillat, Technical Director of Casings.

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal
Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal

Thanks to bold and exclusive innovations, every gram removed to complete the RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal adds value to this unparalleled watch. The weight of time takes on a new dimension. 

What truly binds us is the human side – the strength of our friendship with Rafa. After all the time we’ve spent together, we’re looking forward to continuing our exchanges for many years to come. The RM 27-05 is a testament to both this long friendship and our shared enjoyment. And, looking to the future, the techniques used to develop the RM 27-05 will undoubtedly benefit all our future creations,” said Alexandre Mille, Commercial Director. 

Richard Mille RM 27-05 Flying Tourbillon Rafael Nadal