Inspired by the tourbillon watches of the RM 027 collection that Rafael Nadal (with whom Richard Mille has an ongoing partnership) dons on the tennis court, Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Richard Mille has unveiled the RM 35-03 Automatic in two variations - blue Quartz TPT with a white Quartz TPT caseband, and white Quartz TPT and Carbon TPT with a Carbon TPT caseband. TPT refers to Thin Ply Technology, a superlightweight prepreg material (a reinforcing fabric which has been pre-impregnated with a resin system) that was seen in the RM 11-03 McLaren Automatic Flyback Chronograph at the 2018 edition of Geneva International Motor Show (since 2013, the Switzerland-based material innovator, North Thin Ply Technology, has developed new Thin Ply materials for Richard Mille). The new watch's Carbon TPT and Quartz TPT are composed of multiple layers of parallel filaments obtained by dividing carbon fibres or silica threads.
This material innovation though is the only part responsible for what makes this watch special - the new Richard Mille timepiece is designed for those who want to partake in the performance of their watch. The new RM 35-03 automatic timepiece is the fourth in the RM 35 collection and brings the ‘Butterfly Motor’ as an innovation to the fore. While the calibre of the previous version, the RM 35-02 had a geometry rotor – a signature to Richard Mille movements – that could be adjusted albeit by a Richard Mille technician, the new two-piece butterfly rotor timepiece forms a standard semi-circle in regular operation until the pusher at the seven o’clock position is activated, splitting the rotor into two and positioning the two segments on opposite sides of the axis, removing its ability to spin freely giving the wearer full command to interact with and adjust the rotor.
This is done with a simple press of the pusher at 7 o’clock, with which the wearer can activate the ‘Sport Mode’, by which a gear train dedicated to the rotor deploys the two weights at 180°. With this, the movement of the rotor is blocked during high activity (see why it makes particular sense on Raphael Nadal’s wrist?). This happens because the centre of gravity is brought back to the centre, bringing the rotor into balance, canceling its winding power and thus any excessive winding of the calibre. Made of metal and Grade 5 titanium, the watch has an ON/OFF indicator for the rotor located at 6 o’clock allowing the wearer to see the status -- if the rotor is activated or not. The rotor in itself is unidirectional, with an anti-clockwise winding direction.
Similar to a car’s transmission, the watch has a push-button located at 2 o’clock where the wearer can select modes like winding, neutral, and hand-setting functions with a simple push, with a hand displaying the selected function. The skeleton watch has sapphire crystals on both sides, its baseplate and bridges made of Grade 5 titanium with PVD treatment. The skeleton dial design allows the wearer a closer look at the complicated, detailed workings of a typical Richard Mille’s complication.