As a reward for Rafael Nadal's rightful elevation of Richard Mille to legendary status, the esteemed watchmaker has released a number of new timepieces to mark their long-lasting and fruitful collaboration. The most recent model in the "Baby Nadal" series, the Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal watch, is available for slightly less than a quarter of a million dollars. It is now styled in the stunning "Carbone TPT" pattern.
Hands-on expertise with the RM 35-03, providing a detailed and complex analysis, as explained here. Fundamentally, the Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, also referred to as the RM35-03 Baby Nadal, is the epitome of what a Richard Mille watch should be. Its avant-garde aesthetics are seamlessly merged with lightweight materials, and it boasts a unique and creative mechanical complication. This detail is painstakingly created, taking cues from the watch's intended field of application, which is the exciting world of sports.
Located on either side of the case are two unique buttons that are classily marked "Selector" and "Sport." These buttons are essential to the Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal watch's self-winding mechanism. Fans of Richard Mille are accustomed to the distinctive variable geometry self-winding rotor of the brand. This special feature makes it possible to adjust the rotor's inertia, which makes it wind more vigorously and quickly replenish the power reserve—perfect for people who lead less active lives.
On the other hand, for those who play sports frequently, it can be adjusted to wind more gently, reducing wear and tear on the mechanism. It is noteworthy how carefully the watch must be opened in order to make this adjustment, and how a skilled watchmaker must carefully configure the rotor for best results.
The RM35-03 takes innovation to new heights with its innovative butterfly rotor, which smoothly splits into two opposing sectors or converges into a single connected circular sector. The rotor shape adapts with a single push of the "Sport" pusher, featuring a split layout especially made for sports that ensures even weight distribution and reduces bearing wear. From Ariel's personal experience, to put it simply, "The butterfly rotor system operates with the promised elegance, adding a delightful touch of interactivity."
The complex mechanism is similar to a rattrapante, or split-seconds chronograph, in that it uses a rather large spring (by watchmaking standards) to accomplish the unusual task of firmly separating these heavy components. The addition of a tiny but fascinating spring that is wound around a pinion to produce an eye-pleasing display is another appealing feature of the design. Located slightly above six o'clock on the dial, a small "OFF" and "ON" display with a red hand indicates whether the self-winding mechanism is in operating order. Activating "Sport mode" completely deactivates the system in preparation for physically demanding and intense activities.
The mysterious "Selector" pusher adds a fascinating element by making users wonder what its intended purpose is. It serves as a humorous reminder of how engineers and watchmakers sometimes forget to label products with ease of use. Terms like "Crown" or "Function" could have been used in a more logical way to explain the button's function. The "Selector" in this scenario, which has options like "W" for winding, "N" for neutral, and "H" for time-setting, is in charge of determining the crown's function. A smaller red hand and display, located around 3 o'clock, give a clear indication of the crown's current function by matching the corresponding W-N-H marking. The RM 35-03 celebrates the joy of interaction with a beautifully milled, decorated, and labelled titanium-carbon button, although a straightforward screw-down crown might be more than adequate.
The 43.15mm by 49.95mm by 13.15mm case dimensions are a careful compromise, providing a significant thickness for durability without sacrificing the lightweight nature that is essential for athletes. Three striking variations of the Richard Mille RM 35-03 "Baby Nadal" watch are available: full Carbon TPT®, white Quartz TPT® and Carbon TPT® with a Carbon TPT® caseband, and Blue Quartz TPT® with a White Quartz TPT® caseband. These versions, which are made of lightweight materials and have a grade 5 titanium movement baseplate and bridges, provide the best possible comfort for strenuous activities like tennis. The Richard Mille RMAL2 movement, which powers the RM 35-03 with a strong 55-hour power reserve and runs at a frequency of 4 Hertz, is the core of this watch. It is an embodiment of accuracy and durability.
Segmented carbon fibres or silica threads are the basis for the complex layers of parallel filaments that make up Carbon TPT® and Quartz TPT®. These layers, which have a maximum thickness of 45 micrometres, are impregnated with resin and woven on a specialised machine with a 45° shift in weft direction between layers. At the case factory of Richard Mille, these materials undergo a rigorous processing process on a CNC machine after being heated to 120°C and compressed to six bars of pressure. Twenty spline screws made of grade 5 titanium are used to assemble the case, and they are paired with 316L stainless steel washers that are resistant to abrasion.