There are some things in this life that you can set your watch to (pun fully intended), like Rafael Nadal turning up to the French Open and crushing just about every opponent in his path. This tournament, the King of Clay has been winning in style — both on the sporting and fashion front — wearing a $1,050,000 Richard Mille timepiece.
Rafa's partnership with the Swiss watchmaking masters dates back to 2010. The Spaniard, like all Richard Mille brand ambassadors — from F1 drivers to sprinters — is required to wear his watch during performance, which you might think could prove mildly irritating in a sport that requires plenty of wrist action. These things are not normal watches, though. In fact, they are utterly absurd, built so light that they even float in water. 12 Grand Slams in the last decade would suggest the deal has not been much of a hindrance to Rafa's game.
This year's special anniversary watch, the RM 27-04, is like a Bugatti Veyron for the wrist. It weighs an almost laughable 30 grams (and that includes the strap). Rafa is feared on tour for his punishing powerplay, but this thing has been tested to withstand shocks in excess of 12,000 Gs — for context, the highest G-force recorded on a rollercoaster is 6.3! The manual movement is fully skeletonized and is visible from either side, suspended beneath a steel cable weave that has been designed to mimic a tennis racquet. As the great Johnny Mac would say, "come on!"
Only 50 of the watches were made, which will come as no surprise given the price point. Still, don't be shocked if it sells out, just like the RM 027 ($500,000) and RM 27-01 ($690,000) have done in the past.
Even if the Richard Mille aesthetic isn't your cup of tea, it's impossible not to admire what the company does from a pure engineering perspective. Likewise, it's intriguing to see the brand making moves in sport, outfitting their stars during actual play, sometimes to the frustration of ruling bodies. In the NFL, you may recall Odell Beckham Jr. found himself in hot water when he wore his $350,000 Richard Mille in a game last year.
Rafa might be in the twilight stage of his career, but Richard Mille has already planned for what comes next, having signed up recently defeated 2020 US Open finalist Alexander Zverev to a deal in 2018. We can't wait to find out.