Ulysse Nardin this week debuts the Ocean Race Diver, a commercial version of its environmentally friendly Diver Net concept watch launched in 2020.
With a strap created entirely from recycled fishing nets and a case and caseback made using recycled steel, a carbon composite called Carbonium and more recycled fishing nets, the new Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver might be the greenest luxury watch available. Ulysse Nardin teamed with French recycling experts Fil&Fab to source and develop the recycled material for the new collection.
Ulysse Nardin wants to raise awareness to protect the oceans by creating “new from old and regenerating materials, especially plastic.” The watchmaker co-branded the watch with its partner, the around-the-globe Ocean Race, for which Ulysse Nardin is official timer.
As a 44mm dive watch, the Ocean Race Diver is water-resistant to 300 meters and features a high-visibility, green-accented unidirectional bezel made using Carbonium, the same fibers that are used for the fuselage and wings of the latest-generation aircrafts. The manufacture of Carbonium has a 40% lower environmental impact than other carbon composites, since it makes use of the offcuts of aircraft parts, according to Ulysse Nardin.
Ulysse Nardin taps an automotive industry steel recycling channel for the 44mm case, which is 80% to 85% recycled.
The watch’s dial echoes the watchmaker’s Diver X series with a double X signature on the dial, a power reserve indicator at the top and a small seconds hand at 6 o’clock. The dial, toned down when compared to the concept version, is composed of neutral textured anthracite (ruthenium) surface treatment.
Like the brand’s X-Skeleton series, you’ll also find the Ulysse Nardin logo etched into the crown and a visible crown protector.
Even the movement, Ulysse Nardin’s own UN-118, is made with materials 95% sourced within a 30 km radius of the Manufacture, half of them coming from recycling channels (recycled steel and brass). All Ulysse Nardin movements utilize recycled brass.
The watch will be sold in a water-resistant pouch slipped into a dry bag recycled from the sea by Helly Hansen, a brand that is also a partner of the round-the-world Ocean Race.
Ulysse Nardin will offer the watch as a limited edition of 200 pieces starting in June. Price: $11,500.
Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver
Reference: (1183-170LE-1A-TOR/0A UN-118)
Movement: Caliber UN 118 manufacture, Silicium & DiamonSil escapement technology. Power reserve is 60 hours.
Case: 44mm steel with unidirectional concave rotating bezel, bezel decoration 100% Carbonium, sapphire crystal, 300 meters of water resistance.
Side-case and case-back 40% Carbonium and 60% recycled fishing nets.
Stainless steel case at least 80% recycled from automotive industry.
Dial: Green Super-LumiNova markers, anthracite (ruthenium) surface treatment Double X , The Ocean Race logo (white transfer), power reserve indicator.
Strap: Recycled from fishing nets, gray with green and white stitches, scratch closing.
Like that now highly collectible Doxa Army watch, the re-edition is also finished in matte black, which recalls the original model’s role as a watch designed to reduce glare during active military duty.
The original model was one of the very first watches to use a coating process (oxidation) that at the time was relatively new to the watchmaking industry.
Doxa also echoes the sand-beige dial of the original model on this re-issue, framing it with a matte black diving bezel that matches the 42.5mm by 44.5mm case. Inside Doxa fits a COSC-certified automatic Sellita movement.
Doxa is also packaging the watch with box sporting the original camouflage pattern used by the Swiss Army at the time the watch debuted. The box includes two straps: one made from black FKM rubber and one NATO strap with a camouflage pattern.
We expect this nicely considered homage to Doxa’s rich military-watch history to sell very quickly, especially in light of the always active Doxa collector community.
Specifications: Doxa Army Watches of Switzerland Edition
Case: 42.5mm x 44.5mm x 11.95mm matte black ceramic, titanium chamber for the movement, sapphire crystal, unidirectional matte ceramic rotating bezel, screw-down titanium crown, threaded titanium case back, water resistance to 300 meters.
Dial: Beige with orange hour and minute hands, coated with SuperLuminova, painted outside minute track, white numerals and dot at 12 o’clock coated with SuperLuminova.
Strap: Black FKM rubber, color-matched with the case, folding clasp, black PVD coating, featuring Doxa fish symbol and adjustable wetsuit extension. Additional NATO camouflage strap included in the box.
All week we’re reviewing 2022 debuts presented during Watches and Wonders 2022 that, perhaps, you didn’t read too much about in the first wave of online reporting.
As Montblanc’s first diving watch, the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date catches your eye with its ‘frozen’ dial. Not actually ice (though that would be impressive) the dials on all three versions of this 41mm steel dive watch artfully mimic a glacier.
More specifically, the dial makers report that they climbed up to the glacial lakes of Mont Blanc to find their muse. Ascending via the Chamonix Valley to the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), Montblanc designers say they “were captivated by the texture of the glacial ice with its interlocking network of crystals that have been frozen in time for millennia.”
The dial work, made possible with an age-old technique called gratté-boisé, is stunning. The dial’s depth and intricate crags and crevices are all better when viewed live than they appear in pictures.
And turning the watch over reveals a case back with a three-dimensional relief engraving of an iceberg and a scuba diver exploring the waters below.
As a certified diving timing instrument, conforming to the ISO 6425 norm, the 1858 Iced Sea has undergone the Montblanc Laboratory 500 Hour Test to ensure that it is shock resistant, anti-magnetic, extreme temperature resistant and water-resistant (to 300 meters). The 12.9mm-thick steel case protects an automatic Sellita movement.
This watch also includes a wet-suit adjustable v-shaped stainless-steel tapered bracelet that the wearer can easily swap for a rubber strap without the need to return to the boutique or use of any tools.
Montblanc offers the 1858 Iced Sea Automatic Date with three different dial colors, blue, green and black, each with a matching unidirectional bezel.
At Watches & Wonders 2022 earlier this month, Grand Seiko introduced five sport models in its Evolution 9 collection. And echoing many of the other high-end watchmakers at the show, Grand Seiko also focused its debuts on titanium-cased designs.
But unlike all other watchmakers, Grand Seiko is able to offer a level of precision rare for any pure mechanical offering thanks to its proprietary Spring Drive movement, a mechanical-electronic hybrid built and finished to high watchmaking standards.
Within its relatively new Evolution 9 collection, Grand Seiko adds two GMT models (SBGE283 and SBGE285), two Chronograph GMT models (SBGC249, a blue-dialed 15th Anniversary Limited Edition, and SBGC251), and a 200-meter dive watch with caliber 9RA5 (SLGA015), a movement with an impressive five-day power reserve. All these titanium-cased watches offer screw-down crowns and a strong anti-magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m.
For the debuts, Grand Seiko has refined its cases as well as various dial details. All the new models benefit from wider lugs and thicker bracelets. Also note the collection’s bolder hands that point to a new font along the bezel, notably on the GMT models. In addition, Grand Seiko now coats all its hands and indexes with more Lumibrite than we’ve seen previously. In addition, crown guards are somewhat smoother than on earlier sports models.
Spring Drive GMT
These two 41mm debuts (above) feature highly textured pattern dials in either black (SBGE283) or light gray (SBGE285). Both offer a box-shaped sapphire crystal, a 72-hour power reserve and are powered by Spring Drive Caliber 9R66, which offers incredible precision of plus or minus one second per day. Price: $8,400, and available in August.
The first of the two new 45.3mm Evolution 9 chronographs features a blue dial and offers a higher rate of accuracy than the already phenomenal one-second per day. This Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph 15th anniversary edition (SBGC249, above) is adjusted to achieve an enhanced accuracy rate of just half-a-second per day, (or plus or minus 10 seconds per month) and is offered as a limited edition of 700. In addition to the 12-hour chronograph, the watch also features a rotating bezel and a GMT hand. Price: $12,400.
The black-dialed version (SBGC251, below) delivers the standard high accuracy of 1-second per day (±15 seconds per month) and otherwise offers the same design and specifications as the limited edition. Price: $11,400.
Dark Dive Watch
Finally, Grand Seiko adds an impressive new 200m diver’s watch (SLGA015) to the Evolution 9 collection. As is often the case at Grand Seiko, the watch’s textured black dial arrives on your wrist already wrapped up with an inspiring origin story.
Inspired by the Kuroshio Current, also known as the Black Stream, the dial echoes the darkness visible in the waters that flow northwards past Japan towards the North Pacific. The Black Stream’s darkness inspired Grand Seiko’s artisans to create the new watch’s particularly evocative dial.
Powered by Spring Drive Caliber 9RA5, the new 43.8mm by 13.8mm titanium Black Stream dive watch offers an accuracy rate of ±10 seconds per month and a five-day power reserve.
The diver’s hands are among the boldest we’ve seen on a Grand Seiko dial, and this bezel among the most robust. In fact, Grand Seiko has forged the bezel’s inside from ceramic to reduce the possibility of scratching. Price: $11,600 and available in August.
iW recently interviewed Delma Managing Director Andreas Leibundgut about the independent Swiss watchmaking company he oversees. With fairly new distribution in the United States, Delma has heightened its profile among enthusiasts and has introduced an impressive collection of new dive watches, notably the Blue Shark III.
In our wide-ranging interview, Leibundgut reviews Delma’s history as a Swiss watchmaker and describes the brand’s current collections and marketing philosophy.
iW: Can you give us a quick overview of Delma’s history through to today?
Andreas Leibundgut: Delma was founded in 1924 in Lengnau, Switzerland, by the Gilomen brothers as A & A Gilomen SA with the four brands: Delma, Gil, Midland, and Thuya. In 1966 the Gilomen’s were seeking a successor as there was none within the family. They found Ulrich Wüthrich, my grandfather, who acquired the company with a partner.
Following the takeover, they renamed the company after the Delma brand and started building on its sports collection. In 1969 Delma’s first divers’ watch, the Periscope, was launched and with it started our commitment to creating great performance watches that stand the test of time.
In 1996 Fred Leibundgut, my father, joined the company and started shifting the focus of Delma back to its core, the sports timepieces, that Delma had deviated from in the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, we have successfully rebuilt our Diver and Racing collections with some outstanding performance timepieces. Delma has weathered the stormy past two years quite well and today we are looking forward to celebrating our upcoming centennial anniversary in 2024 in a way that’s worthy of that milestone.
What are some of the unique selling points that make Delma stand out?
As one of the few independent and family-owned Swiss watch manufacturers, established nearly a century ago, we offer exceptional products at very competitive prices for modern day adventurers.
In a competitive market, how do you position Delma with regard to other existing watch brands?
Delma develops timepieces for aspirational ladies and gentlemen with a connection to the water, whether that’s below the surface with our Diver collection, above the surface with our Racing collection or on the coast with our Dress and Elegance collections.
What price range does Delma cultivate and do you see this evolving in either direction in the future?
Delma’s core segment is between $1,000 and $4,000 with our most popular divers’ watches starting at around $1,100 – $1,200. Over the past few years, we have seen a strong increase in demand for our mechanical models and as such we will continue to focus on mechanical performance timepieces that push boundaries of strength and functionality.
What is the demographic/psychographic profile of a “Delma” customer?
We target modern day adventurers with a connection to the water who seek a timepiece that reflects their spirit and/or lifestyle and can be relied upon when it’s time to perform. Our commitment to craftsmanship and functional design attracts a more mature consumer profile, primarily people between 35 and 65 who value quality and have the willingness and means to spend on a Swiss Made timepiece.
What strategies will you employ to enhance Delma’s visibility in the North American market?
We plan to continue to engage in partnerships with digital and traditional media outlets with a focus on specialist outreach. In areas where we have a partner, we will also run co-op advertising and create out of home campaigns. Increasing our retail presence and awareness in North America is a key part of our 2022 strategy.
What are the biggest challenges for a brand like Delma to capture market share and expand?
The biggest challenge is gaining access to high quality point of sale locations. We see an ongoing trend of consolidation with larger players acquiring great independents to expand their network. These players tend to focus on brands from larger houses and have less interest in smaller independent brands like us. In turn the number of quality independent jewelers and watch retailers which we feel are the best physical platform for our products have been significantly reduced.
What is your plan to balance the direct-to-consumer sales with the traditional brick and mortar sales channels?
For Delma, direct-to-consumer and brick and mortar channels are complementary. Both are needed and both channels rely upon each other to do well. We have a well running DTC sales channel and continue to expand our presence in targeted brick and mortar locations in Europe, North America and beyond.
What is the Delma Design process? Would you consider your designs to be proactive or reactive with regard to current trends?
The development of a new model starts with an idea or a new concept, which is then sketched out before we move on to technical drawings, 3D modeling and prototyping. While we have a clear strategy and direction for the brand and the products we are developing, we do consider consumer demands and trends in the design process, particularly with finishes and color choices. Most important however is that we remain true to our identity, more so now than ever before.
I personally recall Delma’s attempt to enter the American market in the early 1990s and even have one of your two-tone quartz watches (my very first Swiss watch) still in my collection. How has Delma changed as a company since then with regard to style, ethos and leadership?
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Delma deviated a bit from its core and produced a number of dress watches in gold, platinum, and other elaborate finishes. While they were well received at the time, we have regained focus on our foundation with invigorated commitment to sports and divers’ watches reflected in our new releases and promotional materials.
It’s hard for me to accurately judge the leadership and ethos of the early 1990s given my age, but I would argue that today, given the available tools at hand, we are much more directly involved in each market, and we are more brand focused.
In the past, distributors were met potentially twice a year, once in Basel and once during a personal visit. Now, there is a constant exchange between the people in the market and our team in Switzerland. This allows us to be much closer to all extensions of the brand including retail partners, media outlets and clients.
Will Delma embrace the growing move towards environmental stewardship, conservation, or any other philanthropic causes?
With a strong focus on divers and sports watches, we have sincere interest in preserving the oceans and the wildlife that depends on them. Hence, Delma supports a variety of organizations and programs centered around ocean conservation. Most recently, Delma, together with ocean conservationist and Delma ambassador Magnus Lundborg supported the Megalodon Project. A research endeavor to understand and protect Blue Sharks among other endangered animals that live in the waters surrounding the Azores archipelago.
In 2020, we also released a limited-edition timepiece in celebration of the 200 years since the discovery of Antarctica, which supported the Antarctic and Southern Ocean coalition in its mission to protect this great wilderness and the fascinating wildlife that relies on it. We intend to continue our philanthropic efforts and serve as stewards of global preservation.
Currently Delma has no fewer than fifteen different lines in the collection. That’s a lot for any brand and I wonder if there are any thoughts to consolidate and distill the collections to develop a tighter image of what a “Delma” watch represents?
Several years ago, the company took the decision to focus more strongly on its core, the diver, and sports watches. This has proven to be a successful path, but we are not yet where we want to be. As such you can expect that there will be new products coming in that segment with a certain clean up in other areas.
Are all collections available in North America?
Yes! We provide all our new retail partners with a recommendation for their collection selected from our complete collection based on bespoke factors and will do the same in North America as we continue to grow there.
We understand the retailer knows his clients best and are proud to be able to offer this flexibility and customizability to suit their unique demands, something that sets us as an independent, family-owned company apart from other brands and companies.