Joining the Shark Side: The Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Great White & Diver X Skeleton Black
Known for its shark advocacy, last week, Ulysse Nardin celebrated Shark Awareness Day with new partnerships and fresh watches!
There are few watch brands so strongly associated with sharks as Ulysse Nardin. 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.
An Ecologically Engaged 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 acquired two new, unconventional brand ambassadors: A male and female great white shark christened Ulysses and Andromache!
Three New Partnerships to Protect Sharks
And so, with Shark Awareness Day last week Ulysse Nardin has announced three new partnerships that will take its commitment to safeguarding sharks to a whole new level.
First up, the brand has become a member of 1% for the Planet, an international organization of businesses whose members pledge to contribute at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental causes.
Founded to help certify reputable giving, provide accountability, and prevent greenwashing, 1% for the Planet will distribute the one percent of proceeds from the sales of Ulysse Nardin’s Diver Chronograph Great White 44mm Limited Edition and other “shark” watches.
Secondly, Ulysse Nardin will financially contribute to Shark Trust to aid this European shark conservation charity’s efforts to force changes to the law that will better protect sharks in European waters.
Last but certainly not least, Ulysse Nardin has become a sponsor of photographer and shark advocate Mike Coots, whose story deserves a whole article in and of itself.
In a nutshell, the Hawaii native lost his leg when he was attacked by a bull shark while bodyboarding when he was 18 years old. Undeterred and wearing a prosthetic leg, Coots returned to the water only a month later, eventually taking up surfing and underwater photography.
Today, he dives with leading marine biologists, documenting their work as they study and tag sharks. With his images, he aims to portray sharks in a different light: Not as the “killers” they are reputed to be but as key players in the marine ecosystem. His campaigning has also helped to pass legislation that now makes it illegal to possess shark fins in Hawaii.
With its community of shark friends and partners continually growing, the Ulysse Nardin team now holds an internal two-hour long sustainability meeting every fortnight during which the dominant discussion topic is, understandably, shark conservation!
Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Great White 44mm Limited Edition
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.
Powering the Diver Chronograph Great White’s indications is the solidly performing manufacture UN-150 automatic calibre, with Silicium escapement wheel, anchor, and hairspring. A limited edition of 300 pieces, it is priced at $13,300. And remember, one percent of this will go to worthy shark-preservation projects.
The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black
Now, there is another dive watch that Ulysse Nardin recently launched. And while not strictly tied to Shark Awareness Day – nor is it even one of the brand’s “shark” watches – it is worth a mention, not least because we have some great photos of it: The Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton Black 44mm.
When the Diver X Skeleton in blue launched in 2021, it rapidly sold out. And it’s easy to see why: Collectors were seduced by its blend of dive-grade tool credentials (taken from the Diver X series), openworked stylings (from the Skeleton X line), and mechanical prowess (from the brand’s Blast collection).
Now Ulysse Nardin has followed up that initial success with a new 175-piece limited edition with a 44mm black DLC titanium case – water resistant to 200m – and concave, unidirectional bezel featuring an inlay of black Carbonium.
The visible fibers of this state-of-the-art carbon composite make for a striking background to the yellow and white markings. Also in yellow are protective rubber inserts flanking the crown, while the hands and indices are treated with white and yellow Super-LumiNova.
The dial is made up of the openworked UN-372 calibre featuring an X-shaped bridge architecture that offers views of the gears and black Carbonium barrel cover, as well as the Silicium escape wheel, anchor, and balance spring. The large oscillating weight in the shape of an X can be seen through the transparent display back.
Priced at $25,800, the Diver X Skeleton Black comes with two straps: a vibrant yellow rubber strap and a black fabric R-strap made out of upcycled polyamide sourced from disused fishing nets.