The world of sporting sponsorships can often be a fickle one, but sometimes the synergy between a brand and rising talent is so strong that it leads to a natural and long-lasting partnership. This is certainly the case with tennis star Rafael Nadal and avant-garde watchmaker Richard Mille, who this year celebrate a decade of collaboration.
It comes as little surprise; from the beginning, both have brought a boundary-pushing approach to their chosen pursuits. Furthermore, Richard Mille’s resilient, high-tech watches are particularly well suited to survive the extreme pressures of Nadal’s lightening-fast serve.
This latest timepiece, the RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal, is no exception, limited to just 50 pieces. Designed to be worn during his toughest matches, it balances lightweight, ergonomic design (weighing in at just 30 grams including strap) with incredible resistance to external forces. So much so that the tourbillon calibre can resist accelerations of more than 12,000 gs, a record for Richard Mille.
Just as remarkable is the criss-cross design of the openworked dial, inspired by the strings on a tennis racket. Here the complex movement is supported by a micro-blasted mesh comprised of a single cable in braided steel, measuring just 0.27mm in diameter. The cable is anchored to a tensioner at 5 o’clock, and then the mesh is created by tying each of the main strings before weaving in the cross strings. The movement is positioned diagonally and connected by five grade-five polished titanium hooks with 5N gold PVD coating.
The innovation continues to the case, constructed from TitaCarb, a new material exclusive to Richard Mille. This high-performance polyamide is reinforced with up to 38.5 per cent carbon fibre, giving it elevated fracture resistance, as well as resistance to humidity and temperature. This makes it ideal for long sessions on the court, and Nadal will be putting it through its paces in the upcoming tennis season.