Whoever’s side you may have taken, and however many nails you may have bitten after an incredibly intense final match, there was really only one star at Wimbledon, and it was located on the wrist of someone who wasn’t even on the court.

Wimbledon: the event where the greats of tennis battle it out for the prestigious title year after year, amongst champagne, strawberries, and cream. It is an exciting two weeks for those with an affinity for the sport, yet it is also an exciting time for one other thing: luxury watch spotting.

Granted, it is no secret that Rolex has long sponsored the event, and one of its greatest figure heads is none other than Roger Federer himself. Watch companies pay millions to have their timepieces on the wrist of a winner, and players in the past have even been spotted swiftly reaching for said sponsored timepiece minutes before their photograph is taken with the trophy. For lack of a better expression, it’s the ideal money shot.

Yet between Federer’s Oyster Perpetual DateJust and Williams’ (albeit also glimmeringly awe-inspiring) Royal Oak, there was one timepiece that stood out a little against Wimbledon’s strict white-only dress code this year. Watch lovers of Wimbledon, meet Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille RM 27-03 ‘Rafa’.

All images courtesy Richard Mille

Rafael Nadal Richard Mille

A watch for Rafa

Considered one of the greatest players of all time, it comes as no surprise that the Spanish athlete wears an equally great watch. Yet whilst the design and technical bits are impressive — and we’ll get to those in a minute — there’s no denying that Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille was clearly designed especially and most honourably for him.

The timepiece pays tribute to Nadal’s homeland, featuring titanium skeletonised bridges, made to resemble the horns of a Spanish bull (the star’s chosen emblem), with the tourbillon representing the forward-facing head. Most obviously, the RM 27-03 also bears the colours of the Spanish flag in red and yellow, crafted from Quartz TPT® and tinted with resin to create that groovy, wave-like effect. The crown of the timepiece too features a charming accent, made from Quartz TPT® and shaped to resemble a tennis ball.

Rafael Nadal

A watch for Wimbledon

In the league of the best, every little detail counts. Consider the fact that many players have very specific rituals before and during matches. Consider the fact that their diets and daily regimes are meticulously thought out. And consider the fact that any tiny shift to the left or right in everything from movement to style can severely impact the game. All of these feats in mind, it could be questioned whether a tennis player should even wear a watch at all.

But not Nadal.

The player on court

Boasting openly about the lightness of the timepiece, Nadal’s Richard Mille comes in at a weight of near only 20 grams, meaning that it does not weigh the wrist down at all. It was designed to withstand 10,000 Gs of force, and so can hold its own even through a vigorous backhand, forehand, or even fall. These accents are obviously extremely important to Nadal, and are testament to the friendship between the player and the Swiss brand. In an article published by The Financial Times, the tennis star was quoted from an interview ahead of the French Open a few years ago: “Richard [Mille] contacted me, came to my house in Mallorca, and out on this super heavy watch on my wrist, saying he wanted me to wear it when I played…But it was a joke, his way of breaking the ice. The real idea was to create a watch that was strong enough to wear while playing, but so light that I would hardly feel it.”

And indeed, it is a friendship that has lasted through thick and thin. At the US Open in 2010, Nadal actually dropped a previous Richard Mille timepiece to the ground on accident as he celebrated his win, and cracked the crystal. He stated, “It was only slightly damaged…Richard took it back and still wears it that way as a symbol of our friendship.”

Nevertheless, it’s not all sweet moments for Richard Mille and Nadal. Whilst the RM 27-03 normally comes with a red and yellow strap to further represent the athlete’s Spanish roots, this had to be adjusted for Wimbledon this year. It was replaced with a white strap, to go in line with Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code.

Richard Mille RM27-03

Between tennis and tech

At first glance, it becomes apparent that Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille RM 27-03 is not here to mess around. Through a sparking glass, its internal workings are beautifully revealed, highlighting the manual mechanism that still needs to be hand-wound. (Fret not: one winding can last up to about 70 hours).

The baseplate is perhaps the most interesting and integral. There is no case middle at all on this timepiece, and so the bezel and case back are positioned directly on the skeletonised Carbon TPT® baseplate, dubbed a ‘unibody’.

The bridges are made of Grade 5 titanium, known to be a highly corrosion-resistant and rigid alloy. The alloy is made of 90% titanium, 6% aluminium, and 4% vanadium, and also explains its frequent use in automobile and even aeronautics industries. In terms of speed, the timepiece boasts a fast-rotating barrel at 6 hours (as opposed to 7.5), meaning that performance is effectively increased, through an ideal power reserve to regularity ratio.

Indeed, it could be justified, that from design through to mechanics, the timepiece truly makes a racket.

The Richard Mille RM 27-03 comes in a limited edition of 50 pieces, and is priced at approximately THB 26,768,604.

Lisa Gries
Managing Editor, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.