Innovation and tradition. A pairing that’s become almost an obsession in watchmaking. Ulysse Nardin, however, has different take on the subject, and the words have led the Le Locle brand to carve out a leading role.
Tradition reflects the brand’s 175 years of history, while innovation involves a vision and approach prioritising research into cutting edge technical and mechanical solutions, like the use of silicon. The brand introduced the material into watchmaking history in 2001 as an element of the movement, the escapement, in the Freak.
But if we take a closer look, innovation is nothing new for a watchmaking house that since 1846 has obtained over 4,300 accolades and 18 gold medals – and it should come as no surprise that Ulysse Nardin presents a project that the word “revolutionary” hardly does justice to. With the Diver Net the brand has set the bar even higher.
For now it’s a concept watch, but it’s a safe bet that many of the innovations featured in this model will appear on future designs. Ulysse Nardin chose an ambitious philosophy that reflects the brand’s enterprising spirit. The sea is the fundamental inspiration – inevitably, given the close link between Ulysse Nardin and the maritime world, not least in its role as official timekeeper of the Vendée Globe.
“The sea is in our blood, and exploring is our cutting edge”, says Patrick Pruniaux, the brand’s CEO. “We have a deep commitment to supporting initiatives that aim to improve the brand’s environmental performance. We don’t want to be the first to innovate with sustainable materials – we want to show the watchmaking industry that it’s possible to raise our clients’ awareness of recycled materials in luxury articles. We’re pleased if our innovation is open source”.
Many elements of the Diver Net, like the 44 mm case and concave unidirectional bezel are made of polyamide, a material made in a process that transforms abandoned fishing nets. For this project Ulysse Nardin turned to FIL & FAB, the Breton company that developed this technology. The strap is in PET plastic from the sea, obtained using a method developed by the Swiss company TIDE and designed for this use.
To lessen the watch’s environmental impact by reducing energy consumption in manufacture, the sapphire crystal has been replaced by a transparent ceramic glass made in the Swiss Jura. Equipped with a Calibre UN-118, the Diver Net is water-resistant down to 300 metres.