With the French Open in full swing at Roland Garros, we take a look at the latest luxury sports watch designed for one of tennis superstars and nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal. The Richard Mille RM 35-02 Rafael Nadal continues a partnership between the Swiss haute horlogerie brand and the Spanish tennis star, which began in 2008 and produces a popular sub-brand of Nadal-branded watches from the groundbreaking RM 027. The new watch is the first in the Nadal collection to feature an automatic movement.
The RM 35-02 is available in two high-tech case materials, NTPT Carbon (used for the newest watch in the collection, last year’s RM 27-02) and bright red with white highlights Quartz TPT (pictured). The latter material consists of layers of silicon, each no thicker than 45 microns, treated with red resin (created exclusively for Richard Mille) and layered in an automated process, with each layer changing its orientation by 45 degrees. The material is then heated at a pressure of 120 degrees Celsius in an autoclave similar to that used for aerospace components, and then processed into a complete shell. The resulting natural white quartz fiber, undyed, contrasts with the red resin, giving the case a very high resistance-to-weight ratio, non-allergenic properties and excellent UV resistance.
The skeletonized movement of the RM 35-02 Rafael Nadal is the new Calibre RMAL1, the baseplate and bridges are made of wet sandblasted grade 5 titanium, PVD/Titalyt and stretched to ensure maximum rigidity and a smooth finish. Equipped with a variable inertia balance wheel – a component found in other Richard Mille movements – it oscillates at 28,800 vph, and its twin-barrel system is designed to provide greater long-term torque stability properties, can be stored for at least 55 hours.
The movement’s self-winding system — which Richard Mille says is a customer request for Nadal’s self-winding Best fake watch — is based on the brand’s patented variable-geometry rotor, an innovation that allows the most efficient adjustment of the main engine The bars are wound according to the user’s activity level: the inertia of the rotor can be modified to speed up with minimal arm movement during leisure time, or slow down during intense physical activity (i.e. a gruelling five-set tennis match). The watch offers another first for the Rafael Nadal collection: the caseback features a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective treatment that allows you to see the movement.