Richard Mille On 4 Athletes’ Wrists At The 2016 Rio Olympics
As a sports fan, I have been keeping some track of what’s going on at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
What has really caught my eye thus far is the fact that there have been four athletes wearing a wristwatch while competing in their various events . . . and all four are wearing Richard Mille timepieces.
It is at the very least unusual for a professional athlete to wear a wristwatch during competition, a subject I have written about before (see Richard Mille RM 27-02 For Rafael Nadal: The Quintessential Sports Tourbillon), as top-level athletes avoid anything that might disturb or at the very least distract.
Which is why Richard Mille’s wristwatches are made to be as light as technically possible; the RM 27-02’s movement weighs a mere 3.35 grams. These watches are in fact so light and unobtrusive that it is easy to forget they are even on the wrist at all.
That must be why South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk has chosen to wear the RM 27-02 during his two-week stay at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Not only was van Niekerk the flag-bearer for his country, but it appears that his new good luck charm has also boosted his speed: he set a new world record of 43.03 seconds in the men’s 400 m race to take home the gold.
Rafael Nadal, competing in the tennis category at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, was likewise wearing his Richard Mille RM 27-02.
Unfortunately, Nadal was beaten by Juan Martín del Potro (a Rolex ambassador who does not wear a watch on court) in the semifinals of the Olympic tennis tournament in a true thriller of a match. Del Potro ended up with the silver medal – well deserved as he also defeated number 1 seed and Seiko ambassador Novak Djokovic earlier in the tournament – while Nadal came in fourth, losing to Japanese TAG Heuer ambassador Kei Nishikori in the playoff for the bronze medal. Nadal took home gold for Spain in the doubles competition along with Marc López.
Another track and field icon for Richard Mille
Even if Yohan Blake’s performance at the 2016 Olympic Games was not up to his usual standards – he finished fourth in the 100 m race and failed to reach the final of the 200 m competition (though the 4 x 100 m relay was still coming at press time) – his wrist was among the best-dressed of the entire sporting event.
According to Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, Blake’s latest timepiece was hand-delivered to him in Rio de Janeiro by Richard Mille himself, who remained to watch his fast friend from the stands.
Unfortunately, just as in 2012 when Mille signed the Jamaican sprinter a scant three weeks before the Games began in Great Britain, we won’t know anything about the watch that Blake received from Mille until after the end of the Olympics due to Article 40 of the Olympic Charter, which asks the Olympians and their sponsors to not communicate on non-Olympic sponsorships during the event: “Except as permitted by the IOC Executive Board, no competitor, team official or other team personnel who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture, or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.”
From a distance, it appears not to be Blake’s usual go-to watch, the RM 59-01 (see Heartbeat: Richard Mille RM 59-01 Tourbillon Yohan Blake). It looks a lot more like a quartz TPT-encased watch like the one featured on Nadal’s RM 27-02, but created in Blake’s typical Jamaican flag colors – which would be no cakewalk for the brand.
According to the Jamaican newspaper’s article, it also exhibits gold leaves and “feels like a second skin.”
A little-known Olympic sport: golf
Bubba Watson is one of the most prominent professional golfers in the sport today. The 37-year-old lefty who became a Richard Mille ambassador in 2011 has placed 32 overall in the 2016 Olympic competition.
Watson’s go-to watches include the RM 038 (see Heartbeat: Richard Mille RM 038 Bubba Watson), the RM 38-01 outfitted with a G-sensor to record the force of the golfer’s swing, and the RM 055.
Richard Mille is certainly leaving a few mysteries to be cleared up after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro have ended. Is van Niekerk a new ambassador and will he have his own watch? What is Blake’s new watch? And what was Bubba Watson actually wearing on his wrist?
I for one am very much looking forward to finding out.
Quick Facts Tourbillon RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal
Case: 47.77 x 39.7 x 12.25 mm, NTPT carbon and TPT quartz, a material co-developed by Richard Mille and North Thin Ply Technology; bezel and case back assembled directly onto the NTPT base plate; water-resistant to 50 m; sapphire crystal on front
Movement: manually wound caliber with one-minute tourbillon weighing 3.35 g; 70 hours power reserve; certified to withstand 5,000 Gs
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 50 pieces
Price: €777,000 / 734,500 Swiss francs