Recently tennis legend Rafael Nadal won his 14th title at Roland Garras and his 22nd grand slam. It’s a staggering achievement that was inconceivable a couple of decades ago. These days elite sportsman are effectively brands and are accountable to their sponsors. Every aspect of their conduct is closely scrutinised and there’s no room for mavericks. Fortunately, Rafa’s behaviour on and off court is exemplary. For that reason, luxury brands are clambering, to forge partnerships with him. Probably the most successful is his association with watchmaker Richard Mille. Over the last decade he’s won multiple high-profile tennis matches wearing a variety of incredible timepieces.
It would be fair to say that Richard Mille have exponentially grown their business with the assistance of brand ambassadors. For their latest model they have teamed up with Ferrari to create the RM UP-01 Ferrari. This model is the slimmest mechanical timepiece in the world and has a depth of 1.75mm. To conceive an incredible watch like this has involved many years of research and development. In contrast to other ultra-thin watches Richard Mille have assembled within the case, rather developing a case back that doubles as a baseplate.
The RM UP-01 Ferrari has attracted polarised reviews within the media and on watch forums. In fact, some of the comments have been very acerbic, which I feel is unfounded. Personally I like the aesthetic of the RM UP-01 Ferrari but don’t feel it’s as striking as some of Richard Mille’s other models. Interestingly a lot of journalists favour the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra 1.8mm thick watch, which is the previous record holder. Certainly, the latter from Bulgari has a more traditional appearance, which is in keeping with this genre. The RM UP-01 Ferrari also is three times as expensive and is priced at a staggering $1,800,000.
Visually the RM UP-01 Ferrari has an attractive modernistic appearance. However, apart from the Ferrari logo it doesn’t capture the essence of Italian supercar manufacturer in the same way as the Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari. I also feel there are much better futuristic watch alternatives from Konstantin Chaykin, MB & F and Urwerk at a fraction of the price. Certainly to create a mechanism this slim is a phenomenal achievement. However, this innovation comes at an enormous premium and I also question the durability of these ultra-thin watches. Ultimately that’s purely my opinion and I am pretty certain Richard Mille will sell all 150 limited pieces.