There are few watch brands so strongly associated with sharks as Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph “Great White”. Over the past decade, the Le Locle-based maison has launched a host of shark-inspired timepieces (including last July’s Diver Lemon Shark) and used the sharp-toothed fish to impressive effect in its advertising campaigns.
On top of that, it has partnerships with shark experts, divers, universities, and non-profits to help track and protect this misunderstood oceanic predator.
To mark global Shark Awareness Day, which was on Thursday, July 14th, Ulysse Nardin has doubled down on its commitment to shark conservation by announcing three new partnerships in the field of shark advocacy, teaming up with 1% for the Planet, Shark Trust, and Mike Coots.
Want more? The brand has also unveiled a new shark watch fit for the deep: The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph “Great White” 44mm Limited Edition. And as part of the brand’s new partnership with 1% for the Planet, one percent of sales proceeds for this eye-catching diver – and all other Ulysse Nardin “shark” watches – will be donated to global projects focused on safeguarding the future of sharks.
As many of you know, Ulysse Nardin boasts a rich heritage of making marine chronometers. So, tapping into this historical link with the ocean, the brand began to make its first shark-inspired timepieces over a decade ago. Thus, between 2010 and 2016, the Ulysse Nardin Diver Hammerhead Shark time-and-date and chronograph watches hit the spot with collectors, with each edition selling out at a rate of knots.
Then, on becoming Ulysse Nardin CEO in 2017, Patrick Pruniaux conducted an audit of the brand’s assets and saw the success that the Diver Hammerheads enjoyed. Recognizing that the mystery, assertiveness, and quirky attributes of sharks (sharks don’t sleep) struck a chord with the brand’s predominantly male collectors, the former Apple executive sensed an opportunity.
Together with Chief Product Officer Jean-Christophe Sabatier, Pruniaux began developing new shark-related collections, including the chronometer certified Diver Great White and time-and-date divers dedicated to the Blue Shark and Lemon Shark.
The success of these watches inspired the Ulysse Nardin marketing team to explore the appeal of sharks further.
As a result, in 2018, the company introduced a new, visually arresting #FreakMeOut ad campaign that saw a Great White shark juxtaposed with famous urban environments such as Manhattan and Shanghai. And its think-out-side-the-box message chimed with collectors, proving to be yet another winner for the brand.
With sharks having been kind to Ulysse Nardin, Pruniaux wanted to engage the brand in a sustainable and eco-conscious way, the heart of which was a serious and concrete commitment to learning more about sharks and protecting them. After all, rather than the fear-inducing maneaters depicted in movies like Jaws, sharks are essential apex predators and crucial for maintaining the natural order and balance of marine ecosystems.
Yet, the global population of sharks and rays has crashed 70 percent during the last five decades due mainly to overfishing. In that time, Pacific reef shark populations have crashed by 90 percent, while Mediterranean Sea shark populations have dwindled to the point where more than 90 percent of shark species have become extinct.
So, recognizing the crisis, in 2020, Ulysse Nardin began the first of its “shark” partnerships, providing financial support to a non-invasive tagging campaign in the middle of the Atlantic. Carried out by Dr. Jorge Fontes and in association with the University of the Azores and Belgian free diver Fred Buyle, the project traces migratory and behavioral patterns of the highly threatened blue shark.
In the same year, the brand began financing another tagging campaign, this time focusing on great white sharks off the coast of Massachusetts, in association with Ocearch. A global non-profit, Ocearch has developed a sophisticated shark-tracking app for collecting and sharing data about the links between sharks, humans, and environmental health.
In the process, Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph “Great White” acquired two new, unconventional brand ambassadors: A male and female great white shark christened Ulysses and Andromache!
And so, to the watch that Ulysse Nardin launched to coincide with Shark Awareness Day and the brand’s announcement of its new shark partnerships: The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Great White 44mm. How does this 300-piece limited edition pay tribute to the Carcharodon Carcharias, that most famous of sharks?
For one, its sandblasted gray dial is meant to evoke the skin of this animal. Against that gray background, the Super-LumiNova-filled paddle hands and indices stand out nicely, as do the small seconds, date wheel, and chronograph sub-dials, which feature alternating dashes of royal blue and white.
Then, there is the solid caseback of the brushed Grade 5 titanium case stamped with a shark motif (there is an additional shark insignia, in Super-LumiNova, on the white rubber strap). At 44mm, it is not a small case, but its heft is minimal thanks to the use of lightweight and resistant titanium.
Screw-down chronograph pushers help to give a dive-grade water resistance of 300m, while the notched, unidirectional rotating bezel looks the part with its white grooved and rubberized insert and lumed “0.”
The overall aesthetic is bright and fresh. Plus, it’s totally in line with the brand’s previous reference dedicated to this shark: the Diver Great White.