Ulysse Nardin takes a step towards sustainability - from the sea to the wrist – with a new strap

The Swiss watch brand is innovating with its first recycled fishing net watch strap - The R Strap

Ulysse Nardin r Strap watch

October 28, 2020: Ulysse Nardin, creator of marine chronometers and luxury watches from 1846, is using recycled fishing nets to make straps for its watches. Inspired by swimmer and adventurer Ben Lecomte’s work towards creating awareness towards ocean pollution, Ulysse Nardin has appointed him as the latest ambassador to the family of ‘Ulysses’.

In order to raise money for cancer research, Mr. Lecomte was the first person to swim across the Atlantic without a board in 1998. In 2018, when he travelled for 1500 nautical miles at sea, he was overwhelmed by the enormous amount of plastic. He said, “I was fascinated by this spectacle that was both magnificent and repulsive. It became clear that the sporting challenge would no longer be a goal for me. The mission of raising awareness about pollution had become much more important.”

Ben Lecomte excavating ocean junk

In 2019, he embarked on an extraordinary journey into the Pacific plastic Vortex, which was discovered by Charles Moore, a yachtsman, in 1997. Pacific plastic vortex is an area of swirling ocean currents where human trash accumulates. He was appalled by the view and expressed his disappointment: “Small crabs adrift on the waste sought refuge by climbing onto me, leaving behind pieces of floating plastic which had carried them far, far away from the coasts.The nets are mostly tangled in a ball, held together with ropes that have clearly been tossed overboard.”

Almost 10,000 whales, dolphins, sea lions, seals and turtles are killed by discarded plastic nets. The non-degradable plastic, with time, converts into micro plastic, which is even more dangerous for marine life.

After covering 300 nautical miles and seeing more than 300 million tonnes of plastic produced every year, Mr. Lecomte has become a strong proponent of reducing waste from the source.

Recycled fishing net thread to make watch strap

In response to Ben Lecomte’s quest to save marine life, Ulysse Nardin has selected an innovative polyamide yarn, fully recycled from fishing nets, to weave its new wrist strap, compatible with Diver 44 mm, Diver 42 mm, Diver Chronograph, Marine Torpilleur and Freak X watches. 

This strap is the watchmaker's first 100% waterproof fabric. It is interwoven on the edges to prevent fraying and withstand abrasion. The dying technique used before extrusion by the supplier JTTi for its YTT+ yarn reels (100% recycled from fishing nets) gives a uniform black color and has the non-negligible environmental advantage of not using water during production.

Mr. Lecomte responded enthusiastically, “Reusing sea nets for jewelled watches is unique and a fantastic combination. Ulysse Nardin is very close to the marine environment and I'm interested in seeing how the watches people have used for years can evolve. The entire business is changing and adapting to the new conditions and demands with a more circular model. This circular economy approach is fairly unique for a luxury product. The plastic is not being created for the watch as it has already been used. In the sea, it’s a pollutant. Around my wrist, it becomes powerful.”

Ulysse nardin R strap

Ulysse Nardin adheres with United Nations guidelines and committed to achieve their 17 sustainable development goals by 2030. The brand concentrates its attention toward sustainable management of the ocean. It prioritises reducing marine pollution and acquiring greater oceanographic knowledge.

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