Independent Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin released an ultra-limited new dive watch at the latest leg of the 50th anniversary of The Ocean Race (formerly known as The Volvo Ocean Race), the sailing world’s toughest around-the-world competition, during its recent stopover in Newport, Rhode Island. The timepiece celebrates Ulysse Nardin’s role as the official timekeeper of the race as well as its partnership with 11th Hour Racing, the main partner of the event and the founding partner of its sustainability program. The Swiss watchmaker has been known for its efforts in the same arena—last year it launched its Ocean Race Diver, made almost entirely of upcycled and recycled materials and based on a 2020 prototype called the Diver Net. The new Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver Chronograph is the latest iteration in the series. Sporting the same commitment to the environment, the timepiece features sustainable materials. Its unidirectional bezel is made with a Carbonium finish containing upcycled fibers from airplane fuselage offcuts, which cuts the environmental impact of other carbon composites used in watchmaking down by about 40 percent, according to the company. It also creates a handsome marble effect adding another dimension to its all-black design with hints of blue and white. “We have at least 15 different types of materials we are working on, all of them with a sustainability dimension, especially for the Diver,” said Ulysse Nardin CEO, Patrick Pruniaux at the event.
As far as function goes, the piece is water-resistant up to 300 meters (about 984 feet) and comes on a black rubber strap with a pin buckle closure, as well as a decorative ceramic piece featuring the Ocean Race logo, so you can splash around in it during the balmier months. In a tribute to the event’s jubilee year, the sapphire crystal caseback showing off the manufacture chronograph caliber UN-150, bears the number “50” to mark the moment. At 44 mm the sandblast DLC titanium case sounds large, but it wears smaller than its size suggests on the wrist. It’s also the kind of stylish and lightweight timepiece that might just become your go-to daily wear all summer long. But for those involved in The Ocean Race, it’s more than a good-looking dive watch. Timing of the race is naturally of the essence and this year it is particularly crucial. Previously, the rugged adventure had crews of 7 to 10 sailors on board for the 2019 edition and consisted of boats that saw its teams experience harsh conditions both above and below deck, while this year’s crews of just five on smaller boats that are raced predominately below deck means much tighter quarters. Sailors sleep in tiny hammocks with almost zero comforts (even toothbrushes must be cut in half to account for every tiny bit of weight on the boat) and just a communal bucket as a bathroom. To illustrate just how challenging that is, the longest stretch of the race involves 12,750 nautical miles—a one-month marathon from Cape Town, South Africa to Itajaí, Brazil. As the official timekeeper of the event, Ulysse Nardin’s timing is not only critical to the performance but also, presumably, to the sanity of crews counting down the minutes and seconds before arrival in each of the nine ports along the journey where they have the chance to stretch their legs and take a shower on dry land. Beyond the obvious parallels between a dive watch and a sailing race, the piece also serves to highlight both Ulysse Nardin and 11th Hour Racing’s environmental efforts. The Swiss watchmaker is a partner of the Time to Act program, which aims to reduce the impact of pollution, climate change, and industrial overfishing on the oceans, while the sailing team’s Racing with Purpose initiative aims to collect scientific data in remote areas during the race to assess the health of the sea.
Whether you’re simply in the market for a killer-looking diver or you’re both a passionate sailor and watch enthusiast, this timepiece has plenty to offer in both look and purpose. The Ocean Race Chronograph is limited to just 100 pieces and retail for $15,700, although word has it only 17 will be available in the U.S., so if you want one you may already be racing against time.
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