Introducing the Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael NadalBy Suan Futt Yeo
Rafael Nadal doesn’t just make news headlines for his wins on the tennis court, but also for wearing million-dollar Richard Mille tourbillon watches in competition. To be sure, he swings on his left and wears the RM 27 on his right. Still, this is no way to treat a tourbillon, as sensible as going jogging with a cup of tea in one’s hand — and precisely why the partnership is such a powerful one. Two editions of the RM 27 manual-wind tourbillons have been released, and for those who are drawn to Nadal’s court exploits but desire something simpler and ‘easier’, the RM 35-02 Automatic Winding Rafael Nadal would be their pick. This latest, the RM 35-03, makes it the fourth Richard Mille watch to bear Nadal’s name.
Exotic materials, car-like features and extreme performance rarely seen in other watches have been standard fare on Richard Mille timepieces from the company’s beginning. The handy mode display that tells the wearer whether the crown is in neutral, winding or time-setting position parallels the gear indicator in a car and is not an unfamiliar sight on Richard Mille watches. In Richard Mille’s earlier models, the stresses of over-winding during prolong physical activity have also been moderated with the use of variable geometry rotors. What’s new in the RM 35-03 is that the variable geometry butterfly rotor can now be configured by the wearer on demand at the push of a button, directly controlling the watch’s winding speed in accordance to lifestyle and activity level.
Explains Salvador Arbona, Technical Director for Movements, “Previously, any modification of the rotor’s geometry needed to be done by one of our licensed watchmakers. We wanted to perfect this system and give wearers the possibility of directly acting on the watch’s winding speed. It’s like a driver being able to adjust the transmission style from city use to racetrack by activating the sports mode.”
Three years in development, the butterfly rotor consists of titanium arms mounted with heavy metal weight segments, activated by a separate gear train via a dedicated push-piece at 7 o’clock. In winding mode, the two segments are positioned together in a semicircle, much like conventional rotors seen on most other self-winding movements. This dynamically unbalanced state allows the rotor to swing at every arm movement and wind the mainspring in the process to power the watch. At the press of the button at ‘7’, the two weight segments split up to a 180-degree angle, attaining a balanced position and the winding process is suspended, thus preventing excessive winding of the movement.
Toggling between normal (winding) and sports (non-winding) modes makes the RM 35-03 more interactive than most. It is also tactile, as the wearer can actually feel the weight segments springing apart on their wrist, and there is also an indicator at ‘6’ to tell the wearer whether the rotor is winding (ON) or not (OFF).
The RM 35-03 is available in two versions: in blue Quartz TPT with a white Quartz TPT caseband, and white Quartz TPT and Carbon TPT caseband. TPT is a strong and light laminate material used in demanding applications such as aerospace and motorsports. Encased within, the skeletonized RMAL2 features baseplate and bridges crafted from titanium with a grey electroplasma and PVD treatment, and open-worked hands in micro-blasted titanium.
If Richard Mille makes a car, would it look like one? Or a watch? In any case, each new RM timepiece that rolls out of the factory is infused with radical vision that engineering goes to extremes to realise.
Richard Mille calls its latest user-configurable variable geometry rotor “butterfly” rotor because that’s what it looks like when deployed. It also looks like a battle axe. To the competition.
Movement: Self-winding RMAL2, titanium baseplate and bridges, patented variable geometry butterfly rotor, function selector, 55 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, crown mode, rotor state indicator
Case: White Quartz TPT with caseband in Carbon TPT or blue Quartz TPT with caseband in white Quartz TPT, 43.15 x 49.95 x 13.15 mm, display caseback, water resistant to 50 meters