« I felt left out at school. I had no confidence in myself. Even worse was my hypersensitivity to the people sounds. Then, at age 7, my parents took me to the creeks around Marseille. I put on a mask and snorkel, and there, under water, for the very first time I opened my eyes. I was afraid - not of having no air – no, I was afraid of being so free! I suddenly became strong. I flew through the water like Peter Pan, totally weightless … That’s when I decided I was going to be a professional free diver!”
The decision has obviously paid dividends. Arnaud Jerald holds several world records in freediving, with the latest in 2023 seeing him dive to a depth of 122 metres.
Beyond 100 metres, every centimetre of skin is subjected to 11 kg of pressure. Physical endurance is vital. However, Arnaud’s impressive ability to moderate his lung capacity using incredible abdominal contortions is just one aspect of the diving process.
“You have to push your body, but free diving is 80% what goes on in your head.” What may seem a paradox to everyone else is the contrary for Arnaud Jerald. At ground zero supreme control actually means surrender, letting go totally, the absence of adrenaline. “Fear makes us humble faced with the elements. You have to accept and master risk.”
Arnaud is proud of achieving his world records without ever compromising safety. His achievements are not only awe-inspiring physically but stunning aesthetically as anyone who has seen his beautiful camera work or films will testify. “I want to put images on what I experience deep down. When I look up, down, 360 degrees all around me, everything is a constantly evolving state of blue. It’s the only place on earth where you can experience this feeling of infinity”
With such an amazing story to share, there has been no shortage of brand interest. However, it was Arnaud who got in touch with Richard Mille. “As soon as I saw the RM 032, I just knew it was the one for me, so I reached out.” No way to put on the watch for the photo-ops after resurfacing. Not Arnaud. “I experience time differently. Under water one minute lasts a whole day. I need my watch as a tool and it has to come with me all the way.”
It is not only the technical adventure that attracted Arnaud to the brand. He has found the same family spirit and passion that drives his own team in the South of France. “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 free diver my watch isn’t there for effect. I wear it because I believe in it.”