Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal: the butterfly effect

The Richard Mille Manufacture has recently expanded its “Baby Nadal” watch collection with the RM 35-03. The new instrument bears an innovative butterfly rotor. Frank sans C tells everything you need to know in a short (wing)span of time.

By Nicolas Yvon
Rafael Nadal est un mai de longue date de Richard Mille
Ultimate champion Rafael Nadal with his RM 35-03 on his wrist.

Let’s go back in time, before Rafael Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last January and became the all-time record champion. In December 2021, his old friend Richard Mille launched the RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal. Which is the fourth model of the “baby Nadal” collection. Why this name? Because the watches take their performance and technologies from the RM 027 Tourbillon watches that the Spanish player wears on the tennis courts. 

“In our respective domains, we both seek to achieve excellence. We speak the same language, Richard and I. We’re both passionate about our work. Keeping alive this flame of passion for what we do each day is essential to me. Even though I don’t wear the RM 035 models in competition, it is heart-warming to feel the confidence that he and the teams show in allowing me to participate in this singular adventure”, shares Rafa Nadal.

The butterfly rotor, an incredible innovation for the new RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal
The Richard Mille watch displays its inner workings on both sides.

Beware, no tourbillon on this one. Instead, it’s a remarkable innovation of great technical and practical nature. The new RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal integrates an exclusive winding mechanism. Indeed, the wearer has direct control over it.

Les deux parties mobiles du rotor papillon richard mille
The butterfly rotor by Richard Mille with its two mobile “wings”.

The watchmaker engineers from the Swiss Manufacture needed three years to develop this specific rotor, which they named the “butterfly”. And for good reason! This oscillating weight is made of two identical parts that can unfold at 90° to face each other. 

The owner’s control over the winding movement: a mechanical revolution by Richard Mille

This ability recalls the famous “variable geometry rotor” by Richard Mille. Which allows the wearer to adjust the sensitivity of the winding mechanism according to their activity. Except this is a revolution: no need to go to the watchmaker to change the oscillating weight. 

test du rotor papillon richard mille
A watchmaker verifies that the butterfly rotor is working perfectly.

Indeed, the RM 35-03 displays a push-button at 7 o’clock that allows to operate the ingenious system and place the two mobile wings however you want. You can either place them sticked together, just like an oscillating weight in order to wind the calibre. Or face to face, to bring the rotor into balance, which stops the winding mechanism. That’s the position that you have to select when you’re practicing a sport with this watch. As it allows to avoid any excessive winding of the calibre, which could damage it.

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal
The RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal seen from the back with the butterfly rotor on both positions: sports mode on top, and normal mode at the bottom. 

As a watchmaking marvel, the watch also bears a “ON/OFF” indicator. The small button is very useful since it allows the wearer to see the status of the rotor, if it’s activated or not. It is located at 6 o’clock among the inner workings of the Calibre RMAL2. This fascinating movement in grade 5 titanium with black PVD treatment displays a very graphic skeleton that also bears bug wings. 

Au coeur du mouvement Richard Mille
Bird-eye view at the heart of the Richard Mille movement. 

We’re not going to explain in details the haptic feedback of the butterfly system. Frank sans C already did it. But we have to mention the presence of a flange and numerals that are slant inwards to create a depth effect and invite the gaze inside the movement. 

Another push-button for another indicator

The instrument also holds a second push-button. The small indicator is placed at 2 o’clock on the tonneau-shaped case. It controls the function selector (red hand at 2 o’clock) of the crown. It allows the wearer to select the winding (W), neutral (N) and hand-setting (H) functions. A car’s gearbox of sorts for the calibre (motor of the watch) as a nod to the automotive industry that the Maison likes so much.

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal

The watch bears two push-buttons: one for selecting the functions on the crown, the other one to activate or disactivate the sport status of the rotor.

RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal, not one but two versions with high-tech materials

Richard Mille is releasing the new creation with two different versions. Both reflect the expertise of the Manufacture at implementing ground-breaking materials.

Richard Mille RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal
The RM 35-03 Rafael Nadal is available in two versions with high-tech materials.

 Both have the same price (approx. € 225,000), so it’s up to you to choose. One is blue Quartz TPT® with a white Quartz TPT® case. The other is in white Quartz TPT® and Carbon TPT® with a Carbon TPT® case. Each one comes with a rubber strap, white or blue depending on the model.

To learn every detail on the new Richard Mille read our watch data sheets:

RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal with blue Quartz TPT® bleu and Quartz TPT® case

RM 35-03 Automatic Rafael Nadal with white Quartz TPT® and Carbon TPT® case


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