The Ulysse Nardin Diver Net Azure and the Diver X Skeleton Azure are sustainable chic
I’ve always extolled Ulysse Nardin’s entry-level divers as some of the finest made, tastefully designed, and criminally underrated tool watches in the industry. It’s taken me longer to come around to the wilder, more experimental models, but when I saw the Ulysse Nardin Diver Net Azure and the Diver X Skeleton Azure, I was convinced that they are the latest standard-bearers of a concept that has, finally, come of age.
Founded in 1846, Ulysse Nardin made its name as a producer of marine chronometers, establishing a persisting relationship with the sea. Now, in 2023, for World Oceans Day, Ulysse Nardin has chosen to decorate its novelties with an arresting shade of azure blue that cannot help but evoke memories of the sea.
The Diver Net concept utilizes environmentally conscious materials such as Carbonium (which has a 40% lower environmental impact than other carbon composites), Nylo (which is made from recycled fishing nets), and 95% recycled steel (which is an increase on the 80% recycled steel used in the very first Diver Net watch released in 2022).
Meanwhile, the 44 × 15.7mm Diver X Skeleton Azure has a DLC titanium case and uses Carbonium elements in the movement construction (specifically for the barrel cover), as well as for the bezel (a trait shared by the Diver Net).
Whether or not “green” initiatives like this are commercially effective is hard to say. What is certain, is that brands pursuing genuinely sustainable practices are at least receiving plentiful media coverage.
Consequently, we frequently hear of brands using “recycled steel” in their watches, but in reality, the majority of steel is at least partly recycled scrap steel (frequently as much as 60% of the material used has been used for something else previously). Therefore, it is important that when claiming the use of recycled steel, brands are making a notable effort to significantly increase the use of “secondary” steel to avoid being guilty of “greenwashing” (the practice of making false or exaggerated claims of environmentally responsible practices in an attempt to curry favor with thusly concerned consumers).
And yet, truly understanding the “greenness” of green materials is harder than simply the analysis of the material alone. While the world is half-heartedly shuffling towards the mooted “net zero” goal, shockingly, we are still without an agreed-upon metric able to define the greenness of many mass-market materials (such as steel).
When we talk about protecting the environment through responsible manufacturing processes, we talk about scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 carbon emissions. These three scopes (or “types” of emissions) are barely mentioned in watchmaking but were defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol to break tackling the chain of emissions down into bitesize chunks.
Simply put scope 1 concerns itself with a company’s direct emissions. This mostly comprises the burning of fuel, either in a company’s production facilities or the distribution of its product via its logistical network.
Scope 2 is focused on the greenness of the fuel being burned by the company itself (for example, an environmentally aware steel company might use an electric oven or an electric distribution fleet because of reduced emissions, but the question remains, from where does that electricity come? Is it solar generated or fossil fuel generated, for example?).
Finally, scope 3 focuses on emissions or waste disposal outside of the company’s control but created as a direct consequence of using its products. Here, watchmaking is perhaps one of the more sustainable industries as the products created by it are theoretically eternal if properly maintained.
One could argue that the reduction in servicing needs for a material like silicon — a material that Ulysse Nardin brought to the industry with its iconic Freak series launching in 2001 — is, in fact, the most sustainable advancement of all!
While I’m sure there is a long way to go for companies such as Ulysse Nardin, I personally believe the brand’s intentions are good. These baby steps toward the goal of sustainable watchmaking are worth encouraging. As consumers, it is our responsibility to demand transparent communication of what is and isn’t being done, and it is the duty of the brands to provide it. I believe UN is doing a better-than-average job of that as it stands, and hope that it will build on its already solid foundation to become a leading voice in this sector, for which the Diver Net Azure and the Diver X Skeleton Azure are excellent ambassadors.
Ulysse Nardin Diver Net Azure (1183-170-2b/3a) and Diver X Skeleton Azure (3723-170-2b/3a)
Movement: UN-118 Manufacture caliber (1183-170-2B/3A) and UN-372 Manufacture caliber (3723-170-2B/3A)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, power reserve indicator (1183-170-2B/3A) and Hours, minutes, seconds (3723-170-2B/3A).
Case: 44mm × 14.81mm. Central case, bezel, case back, and movement mount in 95% recycled stainless steel. Concave unidirectional rotating bezel in 100% upcycled Carbonium with domed sapphire crystal and sapphire crystal display back (1183-170-2B/3A), water resistant to 300m
References: 3723-170-2B/3A is 44mm × 15.7mm, Polished and satin-finished black DLC titanium case with a concave unidirectional rotating bezel in Carbonium with domed sapphire crystal and open sapphire crystal case back in black DLC titanium, water resistant to 200m
Dial: Black with azure blue elements and Super-LumiNova elements (1183-170-2B/3A) and X-shaped skeleton dial in polished and satin-finished black PVD Carbonium barrel cover, black hour-markers and hands with Super-LumiNova (3723-170-2B/3A),
Strap: Azure-colored rubber strap with black “Ulysse Nardin” ceramic element at 6 o’clock (both). Black ceramic pin buckle (1183-170-2B/3A) or folding clasp in black ceramic and black PVD titanium (3723-170-2B/3A).
Price: USD 12,600 (1183-170-2B/3A) and USD 26,400 (3723-170-2B/3A)
MORE STORIES ABOUT ULYSSE NARDIN
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|42.5mm; titanium; water resistant to 30m
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|Ballistic gray rubber; titanium folding clasp