Since the founding of Sigatec and the debut of the Freak in 2001, Ulysse Nardin’s unique place in horology is undeniable. He was a pioneer in the domain of marine chronometers in the 19th century and a pioneer again in the use of silicon in horology. In recent years, the watchmaker has taken it upon itself to write yet another chapter in its illustrious history by leading the march towards ecologically responsible and sustainable luxury watchmaking.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, Ulysse Nardin is turning to those who have gone the extra mile in the investigation and application of waste materials in industrial processes to guide its watchmaking.

The R-Strap, which was introduced in late 2020, was the first innovation born from this mindset. The Diver 44mm, Diver 42mm, Diver Chronograph, Marine Torpilleur, and Freak X watches are compatible with this forward-thinking watch strap woven from an innovative polyamide yarn totally recovered from fishing nets.

The R-Strap is Ulysse Nardin’s first 100% waterproof fabric. It is interwoven on the edges to prevent fraying and withstand abrasion. A dying technique is used before extrusion by the supplier JTTi for its YTT+ yarn reels (100% recycled from fishing nets) that gives a uniform black color and has the non-negligible environmental advantage of not using water during production. The true underlying intention here was to involve the use of recycled plastic at Ulysse Nardin’s watchmaking process to address plastic pollution in the oceans at its very source.

However, at the end of 2020, Ulysse Nardin announced a collaboration with FIL&FAB that expanded on this notion. The primary goal of FIL&FAB is to collect decommissioned fishing nets from harbors and turn them into polyamide pellets, a raw material that can subsequently be utilized to make a variety of things, such as watch case parts.

With this in mind, Ulysse Nardin created the Diver Net concept watch. A 44mm Diver X watch with 100% recycled plastics from fishing nets in the case, center, back, and bezel adornment. The Diver Net concept watch requires a rethinking of how the strap and crystal may help to increase the utilization of recycled plastics. Ulysse Nardin used TIDE, a Swiss business that transforms PET plastic from the oceans into thread spools, for the wrist strap.

TIDE’s bigger goal is to halt virgin plastic manufacture at the source and repurpose the vast resources currently accessible. The watch’s crystal was made of a unique translucent ceramic glass developed in the Swiss Jura by Ulysse Nardin. Transparent ceramic glass is a material designed to have a lesser environmental effect by consuming less energy during production.

“The sea has always been part of our brand’s DNA and exploration has always been our spearhead. There is generally a strong willingness and interest of the staff members to support initiatives to improve the brand’s environmental performance. Our intention is not to be the first to innovate with sustainable materials, but rather to show the watch industry that it is possible to make our customers aware of recycled materials, even for luxury items. We would be very happy if our innovations were somehow ‘open-source’,” says Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.