Richard Mille’s Latest RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal Features a Splittable Rotor

High tech for Nadal’s high-intensity activities.

A watchmaker that invests excessive effort to bring high watchmaking to sports, Richard Mille has made a mark in the sports industry with its RM 27, developed for tennis player Rafael Nadal. Not only does it include a traditional tourbillon, but it is also incidentally the lightest watch ever, weighing just 19 g for the version with a Velcro strap.


But the brand consistently pushes boundaries, having unveiled a new development for Nadal – the RM 35-03 – two years ago. A straightforward time-only watch without a tourbillon, the RM 35-03 seems less complex than its forerunner, the RM 27. However, it remains intriguing with a clever rotor system that lets users halt winding during high-intensity activities to reduce wear and tear. Initially introduced with either a blue or white composite case, the RM 35-03 now returns in its latest iteration with a sleek and cool all-black case.

The RM 35-03 boasts a splittable rotor

The technical and visual highlight of the RM 35-03 is undoubtedly on the back – the two-piece winding mass dubbed the butterfly rotor by the brand. Developed over three years, according to Richard Mille, the butterfly rotor is a patented system necessary to protect the barrel from wear and tear introduced during sports, where the rotor winds up the barrel quickly due to the high-intensity movements.


Comprising two pie-shaped titanium pieces, the butterfly rotor can be configured in two positions via a pusher at the bottom left corner of the case. In the first position, the pie-shaped rotors join to form a half circle, allowing them to rotate like a typical rotor and wind up the barrel.


The second position, however, is more interesting. The two pie-shaped pieces are positioned exactly opposite each other, creating a balanced configuration that is less easily affected by gravity and movement. This second position essentially halts winding during sports events.

The rotors in Sport Mode, divided into equal halves and positioned precisely opposite each other

As expected for a Richard Mille timepiece, the movement in the RM 35-03 is skeletonized, revealing the mechanism responsible for splitting and joining the rotor pieces. This system is facilitated by a cam and lever mechanism, complemented by a spring that holds the cam. The tension in the spring can be released via the pusher, providing the energy needed to split the rotor.

Black Carbone TPT of the RM 35-03

Unlike the inaugural versions, which were available in either light or dark blue, the latest RM 35-03 adopts a more understated all-black palette, thanks to the new case in black Carbone TPT. The new color is arguably the most appealing of all three because the case features cut-outs on the bezel. Choosing a darker color helps tone down the details, preventing the watch from appearing overly complex or fancy. Simultaneously, the all-black theme is a classic choice for a sports watch, evoking the early 2000s era when watches with such a palette, like the Hublot Big Bang, were considered cool.


That said, the new RM 35-03 is far from boring. It is accentuated by subtle splashes of red and yellow on the dial, as well as the oversized crown. The use of bright colors is very restrained, ensuring they don’t stand out and break the all-black palette. Still, they are noticeable enough to improve legibility and add a bit more spice to the watch.

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal specs

Movement: RMAL2; automatic; 55 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and butterfly rotor
Case: 43.15 mm x 49.95 mm x 13.15 mm; Carbone TPT; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Rubber strap
Availability: Only at boutiques


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