Introducing Ulysse Nardin’s Diver: The Ocean RaceBy Israel Ortega
In partnership with The Ocean Race, Ulysse Nardin introduces the Diver: The Ocean Race, a new watch primarily composed of recycled fishing nets. The timepiece follows the brand’s efforts regarding sustainable creation. Yet, it goes a step further because of its extensive and innovative material utilization. The focus is no longer confined to reused fishing nets, like their 2020 concept, but extends to various sustainable materials, such as Nylo, Carbonium and 85% recycled steel.
The new Diver: The Ocean Race found its origins in 2020 when Ulysse Nardin presented the Diver Net. This concept watch represented the brand’s first attempt to be the most sustainable watch in production. Ulysse Nardin created that timepiece to experiment with different types of innovative, sustainable materials. Its case was made out of Nylo (a substance made out of upcycled fishing nets; we will discuss it below), while the strap was made of PET, which is used to make most of the plastic bottles on the planet. Also, notably, the watch’s glass was made of Swiss-made transparent ceramic. However, the Diver Net remained as a concept and was not commercially available. Today, the launch of the 200-piece limited-edition Diver: The Ocean Race rewrites that story.
The striking new watch showcases a modern and cool aesthetic with black and green shades while visibly employing the new eco-friendly materials. Unlike the 2020 Diver Net concept, whose case was all Nylo, the new Diver’s 44mm case uses Nylo (60%) and Carbonium (40%). Other steel components, like the caseback, are made of waste materials from the automotive industry. Overall, this Austrian-sourced steel (by Voestalpine Böhler) is at least 80% recycled.
The Diver’s unidirectional bezel, with its specific decoration with white organic veins, is made of Carbonium (supplied by Lavoisier Composites). It is generated from the waste materials of aircraft parts, but with a much smaller environmental impact compared to other carbon composites. In 2019, Ulysse Nardin was the first brand to use this solid yet light organic-looking material.
Ulysse Nardin made a discernible effort to add the most meticulous finishings to the 300-meter water-resistant watch. As a nod to nature, the green touches stand out on the case, dial and strap. The cool-looking face of the watch features a gray-and-green, half-matte, half-satin “double X” signature, a power reserve gauge at 12 o’clock, and the small running seconds at six, with the bold hour and minute hands dressed up in bright white. On the case, the colors are featured on the crown, crown protectors, and the individual plate on the left side.
The Diver: The Ocean Race has an all-new strap, though. Instead of the PET band used on the 2020 concept, it is made of fishing net fibers supplied by JTTI-France.
As it has been for the last two decades, the advanced materials are also present in the movement, the well-known UN-118 with a silicon and DiamonSil (silicon coated with diamond) escapement. But that’s not all: for this watch, Ulysse Nardin made sure that 95%of its components — especially metals like steel and brass — were sourced within a 30-kilometer radius in the Neuchâtel area, half of which come from established recycling channels (did you know that all of UN’s movements use 100% recycled brass?).
Wrapping up the offer, the standard watch box was replaced by a pouch made of R-PET and a Helly Hansen dry bag recycled from the sea. (Helly Hansen is a well-known brand in the sailing world and a partner of The Ocean Race.) The 200-piece, limited-edition Diver: The Ocean Race retails at CHF10,900 or USD11,600.
Facing the problem
On the severity of the ocean plastic pollution problem, Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin, says, “For us, [the protection of the sharks and their environments] is a top priority along with plastic protection. The other topic for us is really upcycling. Several years ago, we started to do some R&D. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we transform some of this plastic into a luxury object, like a watch?’ For the first time, we managed, with the help of some startups, to put together some watches that have a case that is 100% made out of fishing nets, for instance […] Our way of making people aware of the issue is upcycling. In this process, finding suppliers was a key factor.”
When we talk about plastic pollution in the ocean, we usually think about discarded plastic bags, single-use containers, packaging and things like that. Approximately nine million tons of plastic are discharged into the sea every year, suffocating ecosystems and their inhabitants. Combating this pollution is a priority of the United Nations, which has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030.
Discarded fishing nets are a huge part of the problem, if not the most important. Their limited lifespan (eight months at most, and they cannot be repaired) and ubiquitous presence mean that many of them end up abandoned in harbors or thrown out to sea. And let’s not forget the nets that accidentally get lost during nominal finishing activities. In all, that’s about 640,000 tons of fishing nets drifting in the ocean, hurting and killing its wildlife. That’s why collecting and then upcycling those fishing nets can make a huge difference because, sadly, there’s so much of it out there.
One company that has made significant strides in the gathering and upcycling of fishing nets is Fil & Fab. This French recycling company found a way to transform the old polyamide nets into new raw material instead of letting them drift away, burning or burying them. Fil & Fab collects old fishing nets deposited in specific harbor dumpsters in France and then sorts them by color, quality and origin. Afterward, they disassemble them, leaving only the primary threads to be crushed and granulated into tiny polyamide pellets that can later be manipulated to create fibers. As mentioned earlier, this resulting material is Nylo. It is used in both the case and the straps of the limited-edition Ulysse Nardin Diver: the Ocean Race. Thus, the brand is spotlighting a “less noble” material, now enhanced by a high-end watchmaking approach to make it as desirable as it were made mainly of a precious metal.
Ulysse Nardin and The Ocean Race
The Diver: The Ocean Race is the newest realization between the maison from Le Locle and The Ocean Race. Both entities will keep their shared pledge to protect the oceans and achieve positive results in 2030.
Ulysse Nardin will be the official timekeeper for The Ocean Race, the open-sea sailing competition scheduled to start in Alicante, Spain, in January 2023. The Ocean Race has run since 1973 and is recognized as one of the most demanding sail races. Its visibility and ‘Racing with Purpose’ program have helped it build a respected legacy in sustainability and become a catalyst to find more solutions to protect the oceans.
Ulysse Nardin Diver: The Ocean Race Ref. 1183-170LE-1A-TOR/0A
Movement: Mechanical self-winding caliber UN-118; 60-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve, date
Case: 44mm; Nylo and Carbonium; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Recycled from the yarn of abandoned fishing nets
Price: CHF 10,900 / USD 11,600
Availability: 200 pieces