Lucky Number 027: Rafael Nadal’s Lucky Charm is His Richard Mille

The number one ranked tennis player in the world, Rafael Nadal, has had victories that would impress even legends like Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. After securing his 9th Grand Slam title at this year’s US Open finals, the 24-year-old became the youngest player ever to win all four Grand Slam tournaments (the US Open, French Open, and Australian Open, and Wimbledon). Nadal’s success on the court is likely attributed to his killer topspin, his estimated 800-plus G-force serves, and his unconventional two-handed backhand. But maybe the secret instead lies in his wrist; or perhaps, around his wrist.

To date, Nadal has donned the Richard Mille RM 027 Tourbillon Watch in his past three winning tournaments. Coincidence? Not exactly. Nadal didn’t just wake up one day and decide to try on the watch because it looked good. Instead, the Richard Mille team spent years researching and testing to create a multifaceted wristwatch that would be comfortable and resilient enough for Nadal on and off the court.

The result was the RM 027 Tourbillon, measuring 48mm x 39.7mm x 11.85mm, with a weight at a mere 18 grams, making it the lightest mechanical timepiece in the world. The watch is shock resistant, ergonomic on the wrist, and features a polycarbonate strap and high-carbon case. Richard Mille has also added in a groundbreaking material called LITAL (an amalgamation of lithium, aluminum, copper, magnesium, and zirconium), which helps make the watch lighter yet at the same time more durable.

Every precaution was taken, every angle scrutinized for error (with six watches broken by Nadal in the process) in order to deliver Nadal the perfect, tournament-worthy watch. Not surprising, considering Richard Mille is notorious for featuring the best in technology, functionality, and  a philosophy that focuses on the “absence of superfluous.” Meaning, you won’t find any bells and whistles included in a Richard Mille—each minute detail with a specific, operative purpose. Yet by the looks of a Richard Mille watch, you would hardly guess that aesthetics are not a main priority. The sleek and trendy designs are much a part of their watches’ appeal.

The RM 027 is also made up of a special type of Plexiglas, similar to those used in Formula One racing cars, a familiar prototype that even the very first Richard Mille watch, the RM 001-1, followed. Mille often cites racecars when discussing his timepiece designs, saying, “Both are machines with similar rules regarding their functioning, accuracy of construction, and reliability. Each part of a high performance wristwatch…must fulfill its task with a wide margin of security and resistance to shocks and stress exactly as would be demanded of a high performance racing car.” Likewise, the same speeds, rapid movements, and abrupt shocks are found during a tennis match.

Only 50 Richard Mille RM 027 Tourbillons have been produced in the entire world, making the watch as difficult to get as Nadal’s overhead smash.