Introducing The New Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver (Live Pictures)
Ulysse Nardin’s ties to the ocean and its exploration run as deep as its inky blue depths. Since 1846, the Swiss brand has consistently produced marine chronometers for those who navigate the vast bodies of water that cover 70.8% of our planet. Today, Ulysse Nardin takes steps in a new environmentally conscious direction. The brand introduces The Ocean Race Diver, a watch made largely of recycled fishing nets. Over the course of the 175 years that Ulysse Nardin has been around, our oceans have suffered greatly. According to the UK, 640,000 metric tonnes of used fishing nets are discarded or lost every year. Ulysse Nardin embarked on a mission in 2020 to turn the problem into a solution. The brand has teamed up with The Ocean Race as its official timekeeper. Both entities pledge to make a positive impact on the world’s oceans by 2030.
Naturally, with Ulysse Nardin being first and foremost a luxury watch brand, the first step was to change its products to reflect the ethos of this mission. The first tangible result was the Diver Net, a concept watch unveiled in 2020. Two years of development have taken us from said concept to what the brand is proudly announcing today. One major upgrade can be found in the materials used for the watch. Ulysse Nardin has teamed up with FIL&FAB, a French startup responsible for the creation of NYLO, a proprietary plastic made of recycled fishing nets. This material makes up 60% of the watch’s case back and sides. The brand also uses a number of other recycled materials in creating its latest dive watch. So, get your life vests on, unfurl your sails, and let’s take a closer look at The Ocean Race Diver.
Ulysse Nardin’s mission
But before we do that, let’s wind the clocks back to September 2020. This is when Ulysse Nardin released its R-STRAP, which is made entirely from recycled fishing nets. This strap was just a small part of the brand’s first steps toward committing to the circular economy and, in turn, doing its part for the world’s oceans. After the strap, in November 2020, came the Diver Net. This concept watch used upcycled materials and was designed with durability and eco-friendliness in mind. These concepts remain somewhat fringe in the luxury space. However, in the last couple of years, we have seen a big shift towards sustainability. And it’s Ulysse Nardin’s proactive approach towards helping the environment that inspired what we see finally come to life today.
It is easy to be somewhat cynical when it comes to the luxury industry’s efforts toward sustainability and the environment. There is no denying that it is responsible for a significant carbon footprint. However, seeing different brands stepping out of the shadow of indifference under which luxury brands remained for far too long is something worthy of acknowledgment and praise. In the end, as small a difference as these efforts might make, they will still raise awareness. You are reading this now, and because of the release of this watch, you now know that 640,000 metric tonnes of used fishing nets find their way into our oceans, along with the other nine million metric tonnes of plastic waste. And perhaps this knowledge will motivate you to do the small things we can all do to help make a difference together.
The Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver
As you can see, the new Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver only looks a little bit different than the Diver Net concept watch. The main black, white, green, and gray color scheme remains. And whereas some elements (namely the dial) have been toned down somewhat, others have been taken to the next level. Its dial is now a satin and matte textured anthracite color with green and white highlights. The signature “X” logo on the dial is raised and features green printed details. Green is synonymous with nature and the environment. It’s no coincidence that it was chosen for the brand’s “greenest” watch. The color can also be found on the small seconds register, power reserve indicator, bezel, crown engraving, strap, and crown guards.
The bezel insert is made of Carbonium, which gives each watch a unique swirling texture (I’ll touch upon each of the materials used for the watch in the following section). Overall, the Ocean Race Diver is a distinguished dive watch. Its looks, which come as a direct result of the innovative and eco-friendly materials used in its creation as well as from the brand’s unique design language, certainly set it apart from more traditional divers. Inside, the Ulysse Nardin automatic caliber UN-118 features Silicium & DiamonSil escapement technology and provides 60 hours of power reserve. The movement and its green-signed rotor are visible through a sapphire case back, which features The Ocean Race’s logo in white print.
From the ocean, for the ocean
The Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver has come a long way since the Diver Net concept watch. Whereas the concept watch’s 44mm case was made entirely of NYLO — FIL&FAB’s proprietary plastic made from recycled fishing nets — the Ocean Race Diver’s case has a dual-material construction. In addition to NYLO, Ulysse Nardin has incorporated Carbonium and recycled stainless steel into the construction of the 300m water-resistant diver. Carbonium is a carbon composite material with 40% less environmental impact than other similar materials. It’s made of the same fibers that are used for the fuselage and wings of the latest-generation aircraft and is created by Lavoisier Composites. The stainless steel used is sourced from waste materials from the car industry. It is made up of 80-85% recycled material and is created by Voestalpine BÖHLER.
Finally, Ulysse Nardin uses its signature velcro strap. This element is made entirely of recycled fishing nets and is created by JTTI in France. At this point, it’s plain to see that the creation of this watch really was a team effort. One big part of the puzzle is the UN-118 caliber inside of the Ocean Race Diver. Here, Ulysse Nardin has managed to stay in line with its mission. An impressive 95% of the materials used are sourced locally to Neuchatel (within a 30km radius). And of that 95%, 50% come from recycling channels (the steel and brass, to be precise). Instead of a traditional box, the watch is delivered in a Helly Hansen pouch. This packaging is also made of recycled ocean waste.
This is not the first time Ulysse Nardin has teamed up with a fantastic partner organization to create a watch for a good cause. Last year, our very own Dave Sergeant covered the release of the UN Lemon Shark Diver released in collaboration with OCEARCH. But somehow, this most recent release feels more significant. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the Lemon Shark at all. What I mean by this is that the Ulysse Nardin The Ocean Race Diver is not just a simple partnership with The Ocean Race to create a promotional watch. As you read, the creation of this watch brings together a handful of great companies for an even greater cause. The use of these recycled materials sets a precedent. It invites other brands to join in and help do their part for the world’s oceans and for the environment.
Sure, the watch may not be everyone’s cup of tea, aesthetically speaking. But I think a bold mission makes for an even bolder watch. And 200 lucky (and bold) individuals will get to call one of these divers their own for the retail price of €10,400.
What do you think of this watch? Can you appreciate the use of innovative recycled materials? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so make sure to leave a comment below. For more information, please check out the Ulysse Nardin website.
Follow me on Instagram @ncgwatches