1,235 kilometers (768 miles) in 25 days: Two Saxons—an extreme swimmer and his NOMOS manufacture watch, Ahoi—swim the Rhine from its source to its estuary. In the name of science—and quick to boot.
GLASHÜTTE, JULY 2022. He swam from Corsica to Sardinia, from Europe to Africa, and now Dr. Joseph Heß, project leader at Chemnitz University of Technology, swam the longest river in Germany, the Rhine. It took him 25 days to swim the 1,235 kilometers (768 miles) from its source in the Alps to its estuary in the North Sea; passing through Constance, Basel, Karlsruhe, Wiesbaden, Bonn, Dusseldorf and Rotterdam—between 28 and 75 kilometers (17 and 47 miles) each day. And with him the entire time: Ahoi Atlantic from NOMOS Glashütte.
“The key factors for me were the comfort and the weight. Even after more than twelve hours in the water, the watch still felt great to wear, and it was light enough to not affect my swimming style over such a long period. I’m amazed that something so beautiful and graceful can withstand such a battering without it leaving a trace. You can rely on Ahoi even in extremely strenuous situations,” raves the swimmer. “When you emerge from the Rhine, worn out, the Glashütte watch makes a stylish statement.”
The project Heß is swimming for is Swim4Science, which aims to make various projects and research by colleges and universities in Germany accessible to the public. For example, those on water quality. The river is a mirror of the people who live along it, say researchers. The water reveals whether pesticides are used in the fields and what medications are in use. But questions of physical exertion and how to deal with stressful situations were also investigated along the way. Heß did not notice very much from the riverbank: “It’s a lonely sport because you don’t hear or see anything.” Shipping traffic, cold, heat, enormous calorie consumption, faulty escort boats, and currents were also challenges that the native of Chemnitz had to overcome. However, Heß and his NOMOS watch were not the first to swim the length of the Rhine. In 1969, Klaus Pechstein conquered the river in this manner over the course of 30 days.