It’s been a milestone year for luxury Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin. In February, the unconventional brand debuted their cosmically complicated and meticulously designed Blast Moonstruck—an astronomical wristwatch that remains our favorite release of the year thus far. This week, Ulysse Nardin reinforced their commitment to planet Earth through a partnership with the 11th Hour Racing Team, a sailing squad of profound talent with sustainability and ocean awareness woven into their mission. The 11th Hour Racing Team will complete in 2022-23’s The Ocean Race, an around-the-world sailing challenge that requires the utmost endurance (which Ulysse Nardin is also the official timekeeper of). To honor the partnership, Ulysse Nardin has also released a limited edition diver featuring a case and strap drawn from recycled materials.
Whether it’s their tenured crew, bold ambition or eco-consciousness, the 11th Hour Racing Team makes for a superb strategic partner for a brand predicated on historic marine chronometers. “This partnership comes down to brand and value alignment. For us, we are a professional sports team but trying to do so in a way that contributes to our desire to leave the world and the ocean a better place,” 11th Hour Racing Team co-founder and CEO, Mark Towill, tells us.
Their otherworldly monohull sailing yacht, a first-ever foiling IMOCA 60 named Mālama, is both a feat of engineering and a sight to behold. “We constructed this boat over 18 months and launched it last fall,” Towill says of the sixty-foot-long craft. “It is very much a rocket ship more than it is a sailboat. It goes so fast that we designed everything below deck. We have cameras and equipment to help us with visibility. There are grinding pedestals and there’s an autopilot. There are also foils that stick out the side that are basically like airplane wings so that the boat literally lifts up and out of the water. We’re doing speeds well in excess of 30 knots.”
This will be the first year that the IMOCA 60 class (which traditionally houses only one or two people) competes in The Ocean Race (which mandates a full crew). It will commence in January 2023 and pass through nine countries over seven months. The Mālama will cover nearly 40,000 miles as its crew rotates between four hour shifts sailing and four hour shifts resting. This includes one harrowing leg of 12,750 nautical miles from Cape Town into the Southern Ocean (beneath Australia and New Zealand) to South America and concluding in Itajaí, Brazil. This stretch takes one month on the water to complete and it’s an undeniable testament to the skill of the sailors.
As for the striking 44mm wristwatch, aptly entitled the Diver X The Ocean Race (or The Ocean Race Diver), the case has been crafted from 40% Carbonium and 60% recycled fishing nets, while the strap is entirely composed of material from recycled fishing nets. This automatic timepiece, featuring the brand’s Caliber UN-118 Manufacture automatic movement, will be limited to 200 pieces. It’s a crown jewel to the collaborative partnership.
Images courtesy of Amory Ross