O Time, suspend your flight
When people refer to a “hanging tourbillon”, they usually think of an escapement without any upper bridges. Not so for Richard Mille: here, the entire tourbillon movement is literally suspended within the case. This extraordinary timepiece was created for the equally extraordinary champion Rafael Nadal.
It all started in 2010. Richard Mille (man) came to chat with Rafael Nadal about Richard Mille (brand). Convincing the tennis star to become a partner has proven difficult; Rafael Nadal simply doesn’t like wearing any accessories on the court, be it bracelets, chains or rings. He’s a perfectionist and goes all out when he plays, following a ritual he masters from start to finish. However, fake Richard Mille wasn’t put off and promised him a watch he wouldn’t even feel. The rest, as they say, is history.
19 grams, including strap
Many of the RMs that followed have featured this ultra-lightness, a feat by which the watchmaker became a master of the past. The RM 27-01 is no exception. In 2013, the watch was able to withstand accelerations of up to 5,000 grams and was powered by a titanium and aluminum-lithium movement with a combined weight of just 3.5 grams. The entire timepiece, including the strap, weighs less than 19 grams. This double achievement in weight and strength is enough to make the RM 27-01 a legendary timepiece. But it’s also worth knowing how it’s assembled to see how its tourbillon movement at 6 o’clock achieves such a record. In fact, this time, the secret of this RM lies not only in the way the movement is made,
stop vibration waves
The original observation was self-evident: the vibrational wave propagated outward. For Rafael Nadal, the waves emanate from the strings of his racket and travel to his wrist and then to the watch. It is also intuitively obvious that the tighter the replica aaa watch is on the wrist, the larger the contact surface between the two, and the more the wave will propagate. Like all athletes, “Rafa” likes that the watch fits perfectly on his wrist without any unnecessary movement that could be detrimental to his shots. In other words, every time Nadal hits the ball, nearly all the vibrational energy from the racket is transferred to his watch. Since Nadal wouldn’t have imagined any gap between his watch and his wrist, Richard Mille had a wild idea: Instead,
The idea is achieved by pausing the motion on the cable. The RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal has a plate connected to the case by four braided steel cables with an overall diameter of 0.35mm. This rigid yet flexible structure protects movement from various impacts. The cables are kept taut using a tensioner system located at the four corners of the movement (at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions) and pulleys (acting as hangers). Attached to the tensioner, each cable passes through the upper pulley, through the movement and back to the lower pulley, and finally to the inner flange. Once the cable is in place, the watchmaker uses a special tool to tighten the cable by rotating the central tensioner ring. Cable installation and tensioning are extremely delicate operations. Excessive tension can cause cables and connections to break, disrupting movement. On the other hand, insufficient tension can cause the movement to start resonating, disrupting its timing. However, if adjusted properly, this extraordinary movement suspended in the case can withstand accelerations of over 5,000 grams. The flywheel and its suspended movement had a launch price of over 600,000 euros, with few successors. Only Richard Mille himself used this original again in the RM 53-01 Tourbillon Pablo Mac Donough released in 2018. The RM 27-01 tourbillon and its suspended movement have few successors.