The lightweight $1m watch that Rafa Nadal wore to win the French Open
It weighs just 30 grams including the strap
Richard Mille is one of those brands people love to hate and I think there are two main reasons: design and price. The brand's flagship tonneau case is not particularly remarkable in its own right in the sense that tonneau-shaped watches have been around for over 100 years, but because of a combination of intricate patterns, size and details, most RMs end up showcasing polarizing designs that some people may find distasteful. I totally understand when people tell me they find Richard Mille watches ugly. I mean, I disagree because I like them, but I totally get it.
The jacked-up price tag, on the other hand, is the result of two factors: business model and marketing. We'll talk about factor one on another occasion but as for factor two - marketing - you can tune in, right now as I'm writing, on Eurosport and get an idea. That's because Rafa Nadal is playing the French Open final against Novak Djokovic while wearing a $1m RM watch.
I've always found this fascinating because while other watch companies make brand ambassadors wear their timepieces on the podium or whenever they're picking up a prize or award, Richard Mille has brand ambassadors that wear their timepieces during the actual race/game/performance.
Rafa Nadal has worn a Richard Mille on each game he's played in the last few years. This particular model was introduced just a few weeks ago and the obvious elephant in the room - I already know some of you are going to have an opinion and tell me about it in the comments - is the tennis racket-style weave on the dial.
The amazing thing about it is this is not just a marketing stunt to make the watch look cool. This is an actual steel cable structure designed to help the watch withstand shocks and G Forces generated by a professional tennis player, the 27-04 caliber movement was tested up to 12,000Gs, and the structure also relies on two PVD-treated 5N gold tensioners, housed in a 38mm case - considerably smaller than most RM models - made from titanium and carbon fibre. The 19-jewel tourbillon movement vibrates at 21,600 vph with a 38-hour power reserve.
The watch weighs 30 grams, including the textile strap, and production is limited to 50 units. The price tag is $1,050,000. Mad.