Ulysse Nardin’s First Sponsorship: Artemis Racing, Iain Percy, And The America’s Cup
Baselworld 2015 was a most interesting time for Ulysse Nardin. Not necessarily because the brand released extremely interesting timepieces (which it did). But because it announced another brand first: its premier sponsorship and ambassadors.
While this may sound a bit ho-hum to the casual consumer – after all, which major brand hasn’t sponsored some high-profile person, team, or event before? – rest assured this is anything but run of the mill.
Ulysse Nardin is such a no-nonsense type of company, and one whose reputation usually rests squarely on its horological achievements, that a “marketing” sponsorship is more or less the last thing I would have expected from this team.
And that’s only part of what makes this intriguing. The other part is the great, great care with which the new partners were chosen. And believe you me, Ulysse Nardin could hardly have chosen better.
Ulysse Nardin founded his company on the precision required for marine chronometers. In fact, Monsieur Nardin (1823-1876) was one of the most famous marine chronometer makers of his time. Most of the modern company’s communication rests on these two values: chronometric precision and marine themes (one of the company’s four pillar lines is even called Marine).
35th America’s Cup
Supporting a challenger for the 35th America’s Cup as its official partner more than makes sense, and supporting Artemis Racing makes the most sense of all.
Artemis Racing represents Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS, the Royal Swedish Yacht Club), which is the fifth oldest yacht club in the world. Founded in 2006 by Torbjörn Törnqvist and named for the Greek goddess Artemis, the team has won numerous competitions, including the MedCup, the TP52 World Championships, and the RC44 World Championship.
Artemis Racing was the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.
As the America’s Cup is an ever-changing race, the boats have become more and more technical. In fact, today these boats (if they can still be called boats, because they really aren’t boats in the traditional manner) are as high-tech as they come.
And that is where Artemis and Ulysse Nardin fit like hand in glove.
Ulysse Nardin introduced the new collaboration on the first day of Baselworld 2015, and for me at least it came as a complete surprise. But after CEO Patrik Hoffmann and the two Artemis team members in attendance, Iain Percy and Loïck Peyron, finished talking, I understood the attraction. Especially when Hoffmann summed up, “We’re like soul mates in different industries.”
Percy, who is the team manager, skipper, and boat tactician of Artemis Racing, is not afraid to communicate. I found him to be entirely personable, technically minded, and eager to learn a bit more about watches, particularly those made by Ulysse Nardin. But he was really at Baselworld to talk about his job and the three-year partnership.
“The America’s Cup is synonymous with style, technology, design, and prestige,” he said. “However, the new breed of foiling wing sailed catamarans is asking far more from us as designers, engineers, and sailors than ever before. This cycle and the future of our sport is about original thinking, developing new materials, and pushing the boundaries of what we understand about yacht design and racing.”
Does that sound familiar? It should: it is very close to the way the Ulysse Nardin has viewed watchmaking since previous owner Rolf Schnyder took over in 1983.
“In Ulysse Nardin we are lucky to have found a partner that shares our values, our passion for teamwork, our desire to innovate, and an ambition to lead in our respective fields. We look forward to sharing this adventure together over the next three years and beyond,” Percy, who is an OBE (Order of the British Empire, a chivalrous honor), a double Olympic champion (two gold and one silver medal), and a multiple world champion in his sport, summed up.
The aerofoil-powered boats reach speeds of over 100 km/h and are as high-tech as they come, and naturally Hoffmann traveled out to the team’s home base in San Francisco (which is currently moving to Bermuda, where the next America’s Cup will take place in 2017) to learn more about the team before finalizing the partnership. Now, of course, Percy, Hoffmann, and Peyron feel like old friends to observers.
“Ulysse Nardin’s history of navigating the sea paired with the DNA of innovation and technology, which is firmly established in both companies, makes this partnership a perfect match,” Hoffmann truthfully said at Baselworld. “When meeting the Artemis engineers, technicians, and craftsmen at their base in San Francisco, I quickly realized that the spirit of passion and innovation is the driving force behind this extraordinary team.”
The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sporting, and by far the most important in sailing, with the first having taken place in 1851. It was named in honor of the first championship team (America). Winning this prestigious race means that the team has achieved the optimal combination of design, engineering, sailing talent – and now cutting-edge technology. The next edition of the America’s Cup will take place in June 2017 in Bermuda. With Ulysse Nardin on board.
For more information please visit Ulysse Nardin and Artemis Racing partner for the 35th America’s Cup and www.artemis-racing.americascup.com/en/home.html.
Quick Facts Artemis Racing AC62
Maximum dimensions: 19 m (length) x 11.750 m (width)
Sailing weight: 4,100 – 4,300 kg
Crew: 8 in 2017 (down from 11)
Price: $15 – $20 million for serious America’s Cup campaign