What is a Richard Mille? If a fan were to answer this question using only one watch to talk about this brand, in all likelihood he would choose one of the versions of the RM 27, namely the models dedicated to tennis player Rafa Nadal. 

Since 2010, the year of presentation of the RM 027 reference, this collection has been able to constantly surpass itself and move the bar that represents the limit of performance that a watch can have higher and higher, achieving extraordinary results both from a technical and a technical point of view. of design.

Through the usual announcement via Instagram, which has now become the official social network with which the various news are presented to the public, on 24 September 2020 the fifth version of the RM 27 was officially shown: the RM 27-04. We are facing yet another technical masterpiece.     

A constant challenge

To fully understand the technical solutions adopted by the new RM 27-04 we need to take a step back and understand the problem that lies behind the creation of a watch for a tennis player like Nadal. If there is an effective way to shorten the life of your watch, it is to subject it to bumps and shocks.

The strong accelerations and impacts, which occur for example when the racket hits the ball during a tennis match, are directly transmitted to the watch and its caliber, which is not designed to withstand such intense and frequent stress. . The gears and pins that make up the movement can thus be moved, damaged or sent off axis, creating considerable or even irreversible damage. 

As you can imagine, the challenge Richard Mille set out to tackle with developing a watch that could be used in real matches played at the highest competitive level possible is top-notch, but it wasn't quite enough for the brand's ambition. . To complicate the situation, in fact, Richard decided that the caliber should have a tourbillon, that is, an intrinsically more delicate organ of haute horlogerie than a traditional one. And he did it. 

In order to obtain the desired performance, the entire mechanical system that constitutes the watch (case, bezel, caseback, caliber) had to be designed according to a philosophy oriented towardsincrease in stiffness, To reduction of inertia andincrease in vibration damping.

Starting from these inputs, various technical solutions were born, including that of the suspension of the gauge by steel cables, first introduced on the RM 27-01 and of which the brand new RM 27-04 represents its quintessence. 

RM 27-04

Let's now pass to the analysis of the clock.
The most striking feature of the new RM 27-04 is the presence of a mesh that occupies the entire surface of the skeletonized dial. Drawing inspiration from tennis rackets, Richard Mille's engineers thought of weaving a thin steel cable, only 0.27 mm in diameter, to create a structure of 855 mm. mm2 to which the movement of the clock literally clings. Two 5N gold PVD-coated titanium tensioners at 4-5 and 10-11 o'clock connected to the supports of the one-piece case keep the entire mesh suitably stretched and spaced.

To build this structure it is necessary, first of all, to lock the steel rope to the holder at 5 o'clock and then continue with the intertwining that defines the net and finish by fixing it in the tensioner at 10 o'clock. Overall, the cable it passes inside the titanium flange inside the case for 38 times.

The angles formed by the strings are such as to limit the friction and consequent localized wear that occur during the impacts that the movement undergoes during a tennis match.

The caliber, then, is built by resting on a thin titanium plate, which acts as a support for the gear trains, equipped with 5 hooks also covered with 5N gold PVD technique.

These hooks allow the movement to hook onto the previously constructed net. Finally, vibration dampers in red Quartz TPT were added to the bezels of the tourbillon, the barrel and the pivot of the spheres which have the function of absorbing vibrations and isolating as much as possible the organs responsible for chronometry from the impulses suffered by the watch.

The overall result is incredible; if the resistance to accelerations equal to 10'000g of the previous RM 27-03 was already impressive, the new RM 27-04 manages to overcome itself by moving the bar to 12'000 g while sacrificing the power reserve, which is reduced from 70h to 38h. 

Case in TitaCarb®

The other important innovation introduced by this model is the use of a new material for the case: TitaCarb®. It is a high-performance polyamide reinforced up to 38.5% with carbon fiber and was born from the collaboration between Richard Mille and his partner Biwi SA. Thanks to the carbon injection it is possible to obtain remarkable properties of resistance to traction and fracture, very close to those of steel, while maintaining excellent machinability on CNC machines.

The previous properties combined with solidity, stiffness, low density, low thermal expansion and high resistance to humidity have made this composite material ideal for use in the RM 27-04 and, like all the new materials that Richard Mille develops, it adheres to starndard REACH which ensure safety for human health and the environment from the risks of chemical substances. 

Unfortunately, choosing the perfect material for a given application does not imply achieving the mechanical characteristics Richard Mille needed. In fact, to ensure high structural rigidity, the casing and bottom structure must be monobloc (just as happened in the previous versions) and suitably designed to integrate the supports of the previously described tensioners.

As for the shapes involved, they have been slightly modified since there are more mechanical workings on the bezel and back. The overall dimensions and water resistance, on the other hand, do not show noteworthy changes and are respectively equal to 47,25 × 38,4 × 11,4 mm (length, width, thickness) and 50m. 

The last piece to be analyzed concerns the extreme lightness of the watch. This feature is central to the RM 27 collection and the RM 27-04 continues the tradition of its predecessors. The reduction of masses and inertias involved are fundamental to allow the clock to survive during a match since they allow engineers to design solutions compatible with the dimensions of the object in question. Despite having, for the first time, the case back open to admire the numerous technical details present, the watch manages to weigh only 30g including strap, while the caliber weighs 3.4g thanks to its innovative structure and the absence of complications. As it is easy to guess, the results are astounding. 

Considerations

The RM 27-04 is an incredible timepiece that manages to redefine the limits of watchmaking and the price can only reflect its status. More than 1 million euros is needed to buy one of the 50 pieces that will be made, as long as you manage to be among the lucky top clients of the brand.

Once again, Richard Mille has outdone himself. We can argue for hours about the high prices, marketing strategy and aesthetics of RM watches, but the contribution the brand has been able to make to the entire watch industry is undeniable. And you, what do you think?