It is more than a decade since multiple grand slam winner Rafa Nadal and watchmaker Richard Mille created their first watch together.
“From the beginning, I fell in love with this brand and the people who represent
it,” recalls Mr Nadal. “We both strive for excellence in our respective fields. Richard has been very successful, but he has remained a humble, relaxed and approachable person.”
For Mr Mille, the feeling is mutual. “Rafa and I are linked for life. We are together, rain or shine. It’s more than just watchmaking: it’s life,” he expresses.
The latest watch from the Richard Mille and his Spanish tennis god friend is the RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, which has a new new winding mechanism named the butterfly rotor, which can be activated and stopped by the person wearing the watch.
Effectively, the semi-circular titanium and heavy metal rotor is split down the middle. When the two halves are joined, the rotor swings in the usual way, powering up the main spring of the RMAL1 calibre as it moves.
Press a pusher and the rotor splits into the butterfly shape, which neutralizes the weights of the two halves so that they cancel each other out and don’t have the kinetic force to wind the spring.
This prevents the main spring being over-wound, particularly during the sort of pummeling watches endure when worn on court by Mr Nadal, which is why the neutral setting is known as the sports mode.
“The two weights that snap open to halt the winding of the ‘motor’ really bring out the
sporty aspect of this watch,” says Salvador Arbona, movement technical director at Richard Mille.
There are two versions of the 43.15mm x 49.95mm RM 35-03, one in white quartz TPT and carbon TPT with a case band in carbon TPT, the other in blue quartz with the case band in white.
Both models sell for $220,000.