For World Environment Day, I want to discuss the efforts made by a group of people to preserve our beautiful blue planet. I am talking about the Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean Race, the very first DIVER model primarily composed of recycled fishing nets, the efforts done by The Ocean Race organisation and the use of recycled materials.
Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean Race
Ulysse Nardin has a huge nautical chronograph heritage and it is involved in the maritime world since… like forever… But if one asks for facts, the year is 1846. As a brand, they are participating as sponsors, partners and enthusiasts in various activities related to the ocean and its fauna: see Ulysse Nardin announces a new friend of the brand: Andromache, a young female white shark! and Ulysse Nardin has sharks on its radar – partnering with Ocearch, the leading scientific shark conservation non-profit.
So it was matter-of-course for them to realise the issues that the oceans are facing: among many others, the plastic pollution. The brand stated: Fishing nets (mainly made of polyamide) are one of the main sources of this Ocean plastic pollution: up to 640 000 metric tons are lost or abandoned each year ( joining the nine million metric tons of plastic discharged into the sea (Science).
Ulysse Nardin took the decision to do something about it:
– In September 2020, Ulysse Nardin marked the first milestone in its commitment to the circular economy in favour of the sea with the launch of the R-STRAP wrist strap which is made entirely from recycled fishing nets and can be used with MARINE, DIVER and FREAK X watches.
– Then in November 2020, the brand innovated with the DIVER NET, an experimental concept watch, each element of which was designed for durability, to be as environmentally friendly as possible A totally innovative and upcycled watch. Two considerable positive advances for the brand and the watchmaking industry.
Recycle, upcycle and luxury products
Patrick Pruniaux is committed to bringing to the market luxury products, manufactured from recycled materials and using the “greenest” methods possible. One of the problems humanity face today is the ability to repair what has broken, recover the waste material that has been dumped or lost and the technical capabilities of low carbon footprint manufacturing. But there must be a first step…
Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean Race is a very good looking 44 mm full-specs diver with 300m water-resistant capabilities, a unidirectional “diver” bezel, a screwed-in crown and an easily adjustable strap. What is special about it is the list of recycled materials used for it:
• Side case and case back 40% Carbonium® (a lightweight and strong carbon composite, is typically used for the fuselage and wings of aircraft) and 60% recycled fishing nets, Nylo® – suppliers: Lavoisier Composite (France) and FIL&FAB (France),
• Stainless steel case at least 80% recycled from the automotive industry – supplier: Voestalpine Boehler, Austria.
• Bezel decoration 100% Carbonium®. – Lavoisier Composite (France) by using waste material from aircraft manufacturing. It has 40% lower environmental impact in comparison with the other carbon composites
But creating a watch case using recycled materials is not an easy project. First, it was a laborious task to find reliable partners capable to offer good qualitative materials but also that respect the highest norm of circular economy, have a low environmental impact and are stable and trustful businesses. Unfortunately, most of the companies working with recycled materials are startups (too small, still at the beginning of their operations.
The next issue was working with the available materials. How to use them? No one has experience with what are the most solid but also good looking composites or the behaviour of these new materials in time. A brand cannot create (or use) a new material that is supposed to be green just to be friable, defective and unusable in a few years. Will completely destroy the concept of sustainability. So Ulysse Nardin and its partners needed first to find the best compromises. The result is very appealing.
The strap with scratch closing is an already familiar element from last year’s Ulysse Nardin Diver Net. It is 100% recycled from fishing nets, this time with JTTI (France) as the supplier (instead of Tide – Switzerland). It is comfortable and fits perfectly the nautical theme.
Keeping the brand language
The dial present the distinct “X”, gorgeously implemented in the diver’s grey/green theme. The stamped dial presents a neutral and pleasant combination of finishes. The applied indexes with generous Super-Luminova centre make good legibility in combination with the large baton hands. I really love how the textures play with the sunlight. Please see the video at the end of the article.
The dial presents a delicate print in black and white of its register and decorative elements. A touch of green lacquer makes the design more linked and compact between its elements.
The legibility is excellent in any light condition. The round date aperture at 6 o’clock is black on white. Normally, this would stand out as a negative contrast, but due to the smart use of white printing and white luminescent of the indexes, the complication is well integrated.
The UN 118 Manufacture movement
The Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean race is powered by the in-house Calibre UN 118. Based on the brand’s legendary silicium technology (making it immune to magnetic fields and very stable with temperature changes), the calibre is manufactured using 100% recycled brass. Moreover, 95% of the components are sourced within a 30 km radius of the Manufacture.
Calibre UN118 is a 60-hours power reserve automatic beast, using silicon & DiamonSil technology (silicium and man-made diamond) escapement at 4Hz to display hours, minutes, small seconds, date and power reserve.
It is, as expected, nicely decorated with circular Côtes de Genève, pèrlage and diamond angling – as we saw in the previous Marine Chronometer pieces. While not as lustfully as seen in much pricier models, the decorations are more mute and appropriate but adorned by a warm green lacquer for the essential decorative elements of the rotor.
The Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean Race comes in a water-resistant R-PET pouch slipped into a dry bag recycled from the sea by Helly Hansen, the Ocean Race’s official clothing supplier. The retail package is clearly different from what was conceived as “luxury” before. Using all these materials and producing the items is more costly and complicated than one might think. Hence the “responsible luxury” mark.
It is incredibly hard to “repair” something already so damaged by irresponsibility. We are on the verge of catastrophic climate change and it is mandatory to do something about it. Ulysse Nardin chose the difficult duty of being a path opener by establishing new links and ways to work in the direction of sustainable luxury. Finding the right materials, creating the proper manufacturing processes and delivering a truly responsible product is more challenging than imagined.
Despite the arduous journey, the brand was capable to deliver an exceptional product. The watch looks and feels amazing. It serves, besides as a joy for the owner, in a good way for the future. The partnership with The Ocean Race, the chain of business collaborations and the education it implicit makes is a gain for the future.
Note: The launch event, interviews and remarks will be available in the second part of this article
Ulysse Nardin Diver The Ocean Race Technical Specifications
- Hours, minutes, date
- Small second hand
- Power reserve indicator
- UN 118 Manufacture movement
- Balance spring in Silicium
- Escapement wheel & anchor in Diamonsil
- Power reserve: 60 hours
- 260 components / 50 jewels
- Frequency 4 Hz / oscillations 28’800 V/H
- 44 mm
- Bezel: Unidirectional concave rotating
- Case back: Sapphire crystal, The Ocean Race logo (white transfer)
- Water resistance: 300 m
- Recycled from fishing nets
- Gray with green and white stitches
- Scratch closing
- CHF 10,900 / EUR 10,400 / USD 11,500 / GBP 9,540