Ulysse Nardin has a strong history of making marine timepieces, including nautically important marine chronometers, and still to this day their focus is on seafaring timepieces.
In an effort to protect the same seas for which their watches are designed to be used, the Swiss watchmaker implemented a research unit dedicated to studying materials from the sea, such as oyster shells, algae, marine PET (plastic bottles), and polyamide fishing nets.
Through that research, last month, they introduced the “R-STRAP” made of fishing nets — one of the main sources of ocean plastic pollution — that are compatible with their Diver, Marine, and Freak X watches. While these straps are similar to the Econyl® yarn Nato that was created by Breitling and Outerknown in 2019, it’s yet another choice of environmentally friendly watch straps — and that’s a good thing.
Ulysse Nardin did not stop there — going a step further — and this month introduced the Ulysse Nardin Diver Net Concept, which naturally, uses an R-Strap, but also features a case, caseback, and bezel, are made from a recycled fishnet.
While the construction shares some elements with Gyre watches, including the Gyre watch made in conjunction with Alpina, Ulysse Nardin goes beyond that with the upcycled materials coming 100% from recycled fishing nets. According to UN, “…each trim element has been designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible.” Even the bezel and crystal are manufactured from recycled ocean plastic.
“For the case, middle, back, and bezel decoration of the DIVER NET, Ulysse Nardin has placed its trust in three young Breton designers who have created the first fishing net recycling sector in France. FIL&FAB recovers nets that are no longer in use from harbors and transforms them into polyamide pellets, a raw material that is highly resistant to friction. These partners have an industrial design and transition background, with a real sensitivity to the product.
The research around the DIVER NET has consisted of redesigning its trim elements, leading the watch to feature a wrist strap made from PET plastic from the sea, transformed into reels of thread by the Swiss company TIDE. This supplier is also working to stop the production of virgin plastic at its source and use the huge resources already available. In its search for low-impact solutions, Ulysse Nardin has also replaced the traditional sapphire glass by a transparent ceramic glass, machined in the Swiss Jura. The transparent ceramic glass is a material used with the goal of having a lower environmental impact by limiting energy when it is manufactured. The innovation department has thus appraised and tested several solutions, which may be extended to other products.”
The Diver Net Concept watch comes in a 44 mm recycled Diver X case and is powered by automatic caliber UN-118, which is nicely decorated and is visible through the clear caseback. Both of the crystals, front and back, are made from ceramic, which is not a recycled material but was engineered to have less environmental impact than traditional sapphire crystals. Green touches on the case, dial, and strap symbolize nature. (Ref. 1183-170/90-PLAST)
While this a concept at this point, it’s likely Ulysse Nardin will sell then at some point. And hopefully with a significant portion of the profits being reinvested into saving the seas.