Following a quarterfinal smackdown at the hands of Novak Djokovic at the French Open on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will at least depart Roland Garros with his new $775,000 Richard Mille RM 27-02 watch as a consolation prize. Despite its 02 designation, this year's RM 27 is the third in a series of high-six-figure tourbillon watches the avant-garde watchmaker has produced for Nadal, who won the French championship wearing a Mille timepiece each year from 2010 through 2014.
Nadal's wrist is both a showcase and a proving ground for Mille's particular brand of high horology, which takes inspiration from Formula 1 race cars. A pioneer in incorporating exotic, high-tech materials into watches, Mille remains on the cutting edge with the RM27-02 and its unique white and black case machined from a composite material made from NTPT carbon fused with layers of TPT quartz, an exclusive material composed of hundreds of layers of quartz filaments that was developed in partnership with North Thin Ply Technology. The addition of quartz with its resistance to temperature extremes also keeps the case cool on the wrist when opponents like Djokovic turn up the heat.
Inside the case, Mille's engineers have also constructed the brand's first skeletonized baseplate from NTPT carbon, which is made from layers of carbon filaments infused with resin and tempered by heat and pressure to endow it with a powerful resistance to micro-cracks. They also integrated the baseplate and case in a rigid and shock-resistant "unibody" construction that takes its cues from race car chassis. The futuristic sculpted and hand-finished grade 5 titanium bridges support the winding spring and tourbillon escapement of the shock-resistant suspended movement, which is poised on screws and brackets that are secured to the baseplate.
The object, as with all the RM027s, was to produce a superlight, yet robust and resilient manual winding tourbillon with a suspended movement that can take a pounding on center court without breaking. In addition to Nadal's watch, Mille will produce 50 pieces of the new model, which is the heaviest in the series weighing in at 21 grams. The additional few grams, however, could hardly be blamed for Nadal's disappointing Paris defeat.
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