The Plastic Vortex is the completely appropriate and disconcerting name given to the stretch of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California where it’s estimated that 80,000 tons of plastic can be found at any given time. Otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s not part of the ocean most would choose to swim through, but environmental activist and competitive long-distance swimmer Benoit Lecomte did just that over the summer, swimming 300 miles over the course of 3 months, for about 8 hours per day. As part of the Vortex Swim Project, a partnership with sustainable apparel maker Icebreaker, Lecomte not only swam the 300 nautical miles from Hawaii to California along one of the most polluted routes imaginable, he helped raise money and awareness around ocean pollution so that future generations can perhaps come up with a less upsetting nickname for this part of the Pacific. During the entire swim, Lecomte had a pretty special watch strapped to his wrist, which is where our interest in this unique story takes a turn.
Regular readers of Worn & Wound are no doubt already familiar with Baltic watches. Based in France, Baltic excels at designing and producing watches that are unapologetically vintage-inspired. Really, unless you’re a seasoned watch aficionado, you could easily encounter a Baltic in the wild and mistake it for a much older piece, but of course, they use the modern manufacturing techniques and materials you’d expect to ensure their watches work reliably out of the box, and for years to come. To prove that point, and to help in the cause of reducing plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean, Baltic created a special unique edition of their popular Aquascaphe diver for Lecomte to wear on his swim, and later be auctioned off for charity.
What we have here is essentially the Aquascaphe in black and silver that anyone is free to order through Baltic at any time, but with additional bezel markings and a notable “Vortex Swim” stamp on the dial to commemorate Lecomte’s achievement and serve as a reminder of the watch’s ultimate purpose. The Aquascaphe is Baltic’s first true toolwatch, and while it might look something found at a dive shop in the 1960s with its classic 39mm diameter, it has a very modern 200 meters of water resistance, sports a sapphire crystal, and uses an ultra-reliable Miyota 9039 movement to keep time.
During the three month swim, Lecomte and his crew spotted over 3700 pieces of floating debris, and collected over 45,000 fragments of microplastics. These microplastics are particularly dangerous not only to the fragile ecosystem in the Pacific Ocean, but there is a real fear that they can and will contaminate our own food supply back on land.
If you’re interested in purchasing this unique Aquascaphe, worn by Benoit Lecomte himself, Baltic is offering it at auction on their own website between November 4 and November 11. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Vortex Swim NGO, so that they can continue these expeditions and raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Baltic