Richard Mille: RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal11 December 2023
Inspired by the tourbillon watches that Rafael Nadal wears on the tennis court, the ‘baby Nadal’ collection is designed as a condensate of technology for anyone in thrall to performance. The RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, fourth timepiece in the collection, is fully worthy of its place in this distinguished lineup, to which it brings a patented innovation, namely the butterfly rotor.
‘In our respective domains, we both seek to achieve excellence. We speak the same language, Richard and I. We’re both passionate about our work. Keeping alive this flame of passion for what we do each day is essential to me. It is heart-warming to feel the confidence that he and the teams show in allowing me to participate in this singular adventure,’ shares Rafael Nadal.
Three years of development were necessary to coax from its chrysalis this new system for movement winding which spreads its wings in the RM 35-03. While the Calibre RMAL1 of the RM 35-02 already possessed a variable geometry rotor—a signature component of Richard Mille automatic movements— the butterfly rotor of the RM 35-03 allows the wearer to directly interact with the rotor’s geometry, controlling the movement’s winding speed based on lifestyle and activity levels, for a complication that is playful and practical in equal measure.
‘Previously, any modification of the rotor’s geometry needed to be done by one of our licensed watchmakers. We have perfected this system and given wearers the possibility of directly acting on the watch’s winding speed,’ explains Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements. ‘It’s like a driver being able to adjust the transmission style from city use to racetrack by activating the sports mode.’
The butterfly rotor consists of two grade 5 titanium arms mounted with heavy metal weight segments, activated by a separate gear train via a dedicated push-piece. In their initial position, the weight segments create a radial displacement of the gravitational centre outward, converting the wearer’s every movement into the torque needed to rewind the barrel. Press the push-piece at 7 o’clock, however, and the rotor’s gears spread the two weights to a 180° angle. The gravitational centre is aligned and the rotor returns to a balanced position, suspending the winding process and thereby preventing excessive winding of the movement.
In shifting between modes – from the normal mode that winds the barrel spring to the ‘sports mode’ that suspends the rotor’s activity – pressure on the push-piece prompts the function to deliver haptic feedback, allowing the wearer to actually feel the weight segments springing apart on their wrist. A winding indicator at 6 o’clock on the dial, shows whether the oscillating weight is active (ON) or not (OFF). Rounding off the movement commands is a function selector. At a press of the push-piece at 2 o’clock, the user may shift between winding (W), neutral (N) and time-setting (H) activities.
Athletic and ergonomic in its lines, the RM 35-03 is available in three versions at the price of 238,000 $ – blue and white Quartz TPT, Carbone TPT and white Quartz TPT, and Carbone TPT – featuring cut-outs inspired by the RM 27-04 Tourbillon.
Entirely skeletonised, the movement can be admired from both sides thanks to sapphire crystals on the front and back. The baseplate and bridges, crafted of grade 5 titanium with a grey electroplasma and PVD treatment, further accentuate the bold visual statement of this watch. The openwork hands sweep along the outer flange, also in microblasted grade 5 titanium, punctuated with the numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12 and slanted inward towards the movement to enhance depth.