La Grande Mer, [”The Great Sea”] is a celebration of our connection with the big blue.
The Birth of La Grande Mer Collection and a Revolution In Watchmaking
Our first offering of crafted timepieces is a both a celebration of our love of Mother Earth and her Big Blue Ocean, and an expression of our commitment to keeping her healthy. Our goal is very simple: to help stem the tide of pollution by using discarded boats and ocean debris to make a premium, yet affordable and collectable automatic watch.
The Journey to Make a Watch and a Difference
2019 - The Adventure Begins
Born from adventure and for adventure, La Grande Mer concept was developed by best friends Matthew Harkins, Ken Yashiro and Rich Morrison. We live to surf, to dive, to explore, and are passionate about being good stewards of the environment.
The idea started a healthy dose of good old fashioned American Ingenuity, and a well-worn notepad. Numerous drawings later, we brought our sketches and passion to Sebastian Hess and his internationally renowned, award-winning design team at DQBD in Stuttgart, Germany.
More than simply refining our drawings, they embraced our mission. They not only perfected the La Grande Mer’s design but also pioneered processes that allow us to reclaim and reuse debris that muddy and pollute our beloved oceans.
The journey to creating a watch that both tells time exquisitely and helps save our oceans lead us to the proud fishing nation of Thailand. Working with local divers we were able to source enough marine bronze made from sunken and discarded boat propellers to create a collection.
We then teamed with a local metalsmith and his apprentices . Rusty old propellers were heated to above 1800 degrees where with renewed luster and shine they could be cast and used in La Grand Mer’s case, buckle and other components.
The ocean is littered with junk. Most of it doesn’t come from private citizens. It comes from businesses and left for local communities to deal with and ecosystems to suffer from. Fishing nets, believe it or not, are the number one source of polluting plastic in the oceans and each year responsible for the deaths of countless fish, sharks, whales, dolphins, sea turtles seal and marine birds each year.
So, working with local harbormasters we collected discarded fishing nets. Then, using a jewelry grade bio-epoxy as a base, we immersed the nylon fishing nets in into a vacuum form and molded them into sheets of a composite terrazzo material which we called SeaGlass. SeaGlass had a luxurious luster, like that of jade stone, and was precision cut and used for watch components like our dials, links and crown guards.
We at Sacred Crafts like to say we hear the call of the sea. It’s in our blood. We are fans of its power, its heritage, its history. So, looking at the many classic and aging vintage wooden boats that dot Thailand’s shores, we decided we wanted to pass along Thailand’s timeless legacy of boating. So, we bought and dismantled scores of these boats and working with local artisans we crafted dial veneers, bracelet links and Japanese “Bento Style” gift boxes for our watches.
The Heart Of La Grande Mer
As any watch aficionado - and grandmother - will tell you, it’s what inside that matters most. So, we decided to assemble our first-ever watch in the historic home of fine watchmaking, Switzerland, and to power La Grande Mar with the prestigious Swiss Made ETA 2824 movement, which features 42 Hour Reserve and 25 jewels. Our custom bronze rotor was the final crowning touch.
Built For Adventure
As gorgeous as we think we made La Grande Mar, we knew we needed to make it work for us where it mattered most, in the water. For months we tested and re-tested. Sure, it with its’ screw-down crown it could be submerged 300 meters underwater, but could hold up to days and weeks of surfing, sailing, paddling, and diving? Eventually, after refinements and solutions that came from high-tech processes found in aircraft, race car and yes, surfboard fabrication, the answer was an emphatic, “Yes.”
More Than Just A Watch
What started as idea on the beaches of our hometown of San Diego brought us literally around the world to Germany, Thailand, Switzerland and back. Everywhere we went, we met amazing people who not only were inspired by our vision, but they also inspired us with their passion and commitment to excellence, and we now support local economies in four countries.
The journey to make a watch and a difference pushed us and challenged us in ways we never, ever imagined. It forced us to invent, to create, to solve problems. In the end, we are exceedingly thrilled about La Grande Mar and hope you will be too. We think it is a surprisingly affordable premium automatic watch that sits squarely in the timeless intersection of form and function.