Why the Ulysse Nardin x Norrøna Collaboration Hits the Perfect Sustainability Note
A few weeks ago, a new union was born in the luxury world, and it’s on the cutting edge of sustainability and exploration.
With the new Diver Norrøna Arctic Night 44mm from Ulysse Nardin and Norrøna on the wrist of Børge Ousland (one of the greatest living polar explorers), the Swiss watch brand and the Norwegian outdoor sportswear brand are demonstrating their commitment to creating luxury products using alternate materials and fostering longevity by shifting focus to sustainability.
Ulysse Nardin, founded in 1860 and based in Le Locle, and Norrøna, a family-owned and operated business since 1929, have teamed up to take concrete action in the fight against climate change. And their shared approach to this is simple: Act proactively, not reactively.
So, while the watch world’s expectations on corporate responsibility are perhaps too high, professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough.
Sustainability in Action
Increased transparency regarding the source of materials used in a watch, technological developments in sustainability, and the reduction of CO2 emissions are top priorities for Ulysse Nardin, Norrøna, as well as their young clients. “A mechanical timepiece can, essentially, be kept forever. And the same can be said of some Norrøna attire,” said Patrick Pruniaux, CEO of Ulysse Nardin.
This partnership between Ulysse Nardin and Norrøna resulted in a bundle that includes one of the twenty-nine ultra-limited edition Ulysse Nardin Diver Norrøna Arctic Night watches and a co-branded Gore-Tex Pro jacket from Norrøna’s Arktis collection. Unfortunately, the bundle, which cost $12,600, is already out of stock. #sorrynotsorry.
Additionally, the Swiss watch brand claims that this timepiece, which has the same specs as the Diver X The Ocean Race, is the most sustainable model in Ulysse Nardin’s entire portfolio. This is thanks to much of the watch being made from recycled materials. For example, the wrist strap is 100% made from recycled fishing nets, the side case and caseback are 40% Carbonium and 60% Nylo from recycled fishing nets, and amazingly, 80% of its stainless steel case comes from recycled cars.
However, as Pruniaux observed: “Let’s be clear, it’s not the quantity of the recycled fishing net that we recycle in our watches that will change the world. It’s the fact that we do it at all that makes an impact on the people who are going to wear it. In my opinion, watches like these can convey this message and be truly influential. And it goes beyond watches; it’s a vision.”
Over the last decade, Norrøna’s CEO, Jørgen Jørgensen, has focused on the brand’s eco-agenda and come to the conclusion that the most important factor is the supply chain. “We dig into our value chain, tracking everything all the way down to the fiber stock, so that we can show it to the end consumer,” said the Norrøna CEO. “Moreover, it can help us to improve and learn more, which was the case with one of our suppliers: indeed, we understood that if we color the fiber instead of the fabric, it can probably reduce the energy by 90%! Somebody has to start playing with this, but then the whole industry should become part of it.”
Børge Ousland, Fearless Explorer
I must admit that, in my opinion, what truly makes this collaboration legitimate is its ambassador: Børge Ousland.
An active brand ambassador for Ulysse Nardin and Norrøna, Ousland is an outspoken and inspiring activist for finding solutions to climate change and the first person to complete solo crossings of Antarctica and the North Pole, dragging sleds weighing up to 150kg. As a result, he is also one of the few people who have seen the terrible conditions of the poles and can actually give eyewitness testimony to the rapidly melting ice.
Moreover, as a polar explorer, Børge believes it’s his mission to show people what is happening to our planet and why the ice and cold are so crucial for sustaining life on the Earth. He explained: “We are not scientist, but we are trying to somehow bridge the gap between science and adventure.”
While speaking about his collaborative work with brands, the former Norwegian Navy Seal said: “We have been working on this project with Ulysse Nardin for a year, developing not only a new collaborative piece but a tool. I already had the pleasure of testing it during my expedition to the Devon Icecap in Canada this summer, so this is an expedition watch that answers to my standards. As for the jacket, this item has been in development for ten years, and we’ve really been able to customize it to my needs.”