Richard Mille RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal

Rafa’s Return: A Closer Look At The RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal

An innovative new timepiece to tide tennis fans over until the start of the 2024 season.

By Rhonda Riche

Tennis buffs are counting down the days until Spanish player Rafael Nadal returns to professional tournament tennis at the ATP 250 in Brisbane, Australia at the end of this month. Nadal took most of 2023 off to recuperate from a hip injury and anxious fans can’t wait to see him back on the court.

In a recent interview with ATP News, Nadal said: “I think I have had the right people around me, as I have always had throughout my career. Family, team, friends, I think everyone has helped me decisively to be where I am today, which is with the option of returning to compete. The desire of people who want to watch me play again has also an important impact on my day-to-day.”

The 37-year-old has also made good choices in the brands he works with. His partnership with Richard Mille, for example, has yielded three limited-edition timepieces since the first Richard Mille RM 035 Baby Nadal was introduced in 2011. And the team is showing no signs of resting on their laurels with the release of a fourth the new RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal.

Grand Slam Poetry In Motion

For elite athletes to achieve longevity in their careers, most will fine-tune their training so they can play smarter, not harder.

The RM 35-03 collection of sport chic automatic watches features subtle improvements such as a special mechanism for the winding system that allows the wearer to adjust the winding action based on their current level of activity through a "sport mode" button located at 7 o'clock that disengages the winding rotor on demand to prevent overwinding the movement.

It took the Richard Mille team three years to develop this timepiece and the most exciting thing about this collaboration is that it sports a special "butterfly rotor" system designed with two halves hinged at the center to prevent the rotor from spinning when it’s in sport mode. This allows energy to be evenly distributed even if it’s on the wrist of a player with as powerful of a serve as Nadal.

Can’t remember if the automatic winding system has been activated? Luckily, there’s a function selector on the case side which lets the wearer toggle between three modes – "H" for time setting, "N" for neutral, and "W" for winding.

Need more power? These innovations are backed up by the fully skeletonized RMAL2 automatic movement. This calibre’s bridges and baseplate are made of grade 5 titanium (lightness is important on the court and the wrist). As for endurance, this mechanism has a power reserve of 55 hours thanks to a double-barrel system that can distribute torque between barrels for better timekeeping – kind of like how Nadal can switch between left- and right-handed hits to gain an advantage over his opponents.

The Big Three

In a statement about this ground-breaking new edition, Nadal says: “We speak the same language, Richard and I. In our respective domains, we both seek to achieve excellence.”

Like previous Nadal x Richard Mille editions, the look of the RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal combines big wrist presence (measuring 43.15mm wide, 13.15mm thick, and 49.95mm lug to lug) with ultra-light materials.

But the skeletonized display also adds a layer of lightheartedness, which can be seen as a reflection of Nadal’s maturity as a player. He is still just as passionate about the sport, but he doesn’t take himself quite so seriously!

Available now and priced at $238,000, the RM 35-03 is available in three versions: In Carbone TPT with caseband in Carbone TPT; in white Quartz TPT and Carbon TPT with caseband in Carbon TPT; and in blue Quartz TPT with caseband in white Quartz TPT. Water resistance is 50 meters.

To find out more, please visit the Richard Mille website.

(Images © Richard Mille)

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