“When I arrived in the U.S. to work with Ulysse Nardin, I wanted to tell the story of the brand’s history as a supplier to the U.S. Navy and also wanted to do something with the veterans and the special forces,” says Ulysse Nardin brand president François-Xavier Hotier. “The third objective I had was to do something with preservation and sustainability, especially connected with sharks.” Mission accomplished. The Swiss watch company just announced its partnership with Ocearch, a data and scientific research organisation dedicated to better understanding the movement and habits of the sea’s most feared creature.
Ulysse Nardin has had a long history with the shark—the animal serves as a sort of brand mascot linking back to the watchmaker’s historical ties to the production of marine chronometers for over 50 of the world’s naval forces from the early 19th century through the 1950s. Today, its dive watches are commercial products meant to be worn in everyday active life, like its most recent models including the Diver Chronograph 44mm Hammerhead Shark Limited Edition (limited to 300) or its Lady Diver 39mm Great White Limited Edition (limited to 300).
But the brand continues to have strong ties to the U.S. Navy. In 2018, Ulysse Nardin was the sponsor of the Medal of Honor convention in Annapolis at the Naval Academy and has supported the non-profit, One More Wave, created by former Navy Seal Kyle Buckett, which specialises in creating surfboards and providing aquatic therapy for wounded veterans. A third objective of Hotier’s, when he arrived stateside in February of 2018 to take over U.S. operations for Ulysse Nardin, was to find a partner working on a sustainable effort with the oceans, and more specifically sharks, which is when he came across Ocearch.
“I found them on Instagram when I was looking for a partnership, but before that I had been reading a book called The Emperors of the Deep by William McKeever, which is all about sharks and the very first page of the book starts with Ocearch’s mission and what they do,” says Hotier. “I had read that book a year ago, so when I came across Ocearch again, I thought, ‘OK, this can’t be a coincidence.’” He tracked down founder, Chris Fischer, and invited him to come meet with the brand at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show last year. “The guys from One More Wave were there too, so it was really cool to have everyone together,” says Hotier. “The next day, we decided to do something together and it was as simple as that.”
The partnership with Ulysse Nardin will help to fund Ocearch expeditions, where the team, along with a group of PhD students and scientists will study the sharks ecosystem and migration habits. But there’s more to it than simply studying the animals patterns. On board, each scientist specialises in different fields including everything from developing medicine or conducting bacteriological analysis to finding immunities that help cancer research. It’s a sort of WeWork for the seas, where different scientists work independently on research, but ultimately work in a community setting that accelerates new ideas.
And Hotier, who will be onboard to kickoff an upcoming expedition launch for Ocearch near Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod on August 4th, says he has already learned new ways in which the animal is the ideal Ulysse Nardin mascot. “Funnily enough, the sharks migrate exactly like my customers,” joked Hotier. “In the winter, they are in Florida and the Caribbean. Mid-year, they are in North or South Carolina. And in the summer, they are in the Hamptons and Cape Cod.”