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Breaking his own world record, the 25-year-old freediver Arnaud Jerald scores victory at this year’s Vertical Blue diving competition, wearing his treasured Richard Mille timepiece.

While the world presently has its eyes on an eventful Tokyo 2020 Olympics and watersports finally takes precedence on a global stage with the first ever inclusion of surfing at this year’s games, it seems that sporting records aren’t just being made at the coveted Olympiad. 

Each year in the Bahamas, the Vertical Blue freediving competition takes place at Dean’s Blue Hole, on Long Island and exists as the world’s second deepest with a depth of 202 metres. With athletes venturing from across the globe, since 2008 the event, organised by freediving world record holder, William Trubridge, provides an opportunity for divers to venture into extreme pressure levels in order to become victorious. 

This year saw the debut appearance of Arnaud Jerald, a 25-year-old freediver who was introduced to the sport from a young age. At the ripe age of 16, Jerald attended his first course and reached a staggering depth of 30 metres. Nurturing an unexpected talent, Jerald soon became the youngest freediver to reach 100 metres at 21-years-old.

From Jerald’s early emergence into the water 9 years ago, he has progressed from record-breaking goals of -108m, -112m and this year, two new personal bests of -116m and -117m. Currently the deepest dive with bi-fins in history, Jerlad has broken not only one, but two world records in a formidable time of 3 minutes and 35 seconds.

arnaud-jerald_©DaanVerhoeven-304A1205

But Jerald wasn’t the only one setting records at Vertical Blue. A friend to the house of Richard Mille, the event marked the very first time an RM 032 Automatic Flyback Chronograph was utilised in real-time competition. Accompanying Jerald into the water, the timepiece specifically developed for deep sea diving was taken into the furthest depths of the unknown. 

In conversation with the esteemed brand, Jerald praised the imperative role of the RM 032 model. “Richard Mille doesn’t make concessions – neither do I. You take very little with you when you free dive – your nose clip and your fins, that’s it. From now on, my watch will be coming on the adventure too. The number of meters is important in terms of achievement but as regards my safety, it’s my watch that’s paramount. That’s why the RM 032 is an essential tool for me. As a freediver my watch isn’t there for effect. I wear it because I believe in it. I experience time differently. Underwater one minute lasts a whole day. I need my watch as a tool and it has to come with me all the way.”

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Scarlett is a writer, editor, and creative consultant specializing in art, fashion, culture and digital strategy. Drawing on her work from previous titles including Dazed, LOVE Magazine, The Perfect Magazine, AnOther and 1 Granary, as the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Hour, Scarlett is leading the editorial vision toward new territories providing an alternative lens of social commentary to recontextualize the world of watchmaking for the next generation.