Mark Healey is the kind of person you want sat next to you at a dinner party, because when the inevitable ‘so, what do you do?’ question arises, you certainly won’t be bored by his answer.
Healey is a self-described ‘professional waterman’; meaning he makes a living out of doing ‘what others are incapable or unwilling to do in the ocean.’ It sounds niche, but it transpires that being a real-life Aquaman is in surprisingly high demand. Healey’s services range from professional big wave surfing to Hollywood stunt work, professional freediving and spearfishing, underwater cinematography and shark tagging (someone’s got to do it). Then there’s the ‘one-of-a-kind ocean related experiences’ he arranges for high-end clientele through his company, Healey Water Ops. Clients can enlist Healey’s specialist skills in all manner of water-based activity, whether it’s learning the terrifying art of freediving, swimming with whale sharks, deep-sea fishing, or whatever it is that floats their boat, so to speak.
Healey grew up with the ocean on his doorstep in Oahu, Hawaii. His father introduced him to surfing (and 8ft waves) at the tender age of three, and by 17 he’d turned professional. His underwater expertise has taken the 36 year old all over the world and he remains dedicated to ‘finding new ways in which to explore, commune with and protect our natural world.’
Despite such a precarious vocation and a few close shaves (namely shark attacks, shallow-water blackouts and the odd wipeout), Healey is drawn back to the ocean again and again precisely because of its unpredictable nature.
‘In a time where so much of our lives are inundated with trivial distractions, the ocean offers us perspective on what it’s like to be alive on a basic human level.’ He says, ‘[I’m drawn to the ocean] to connect with nature and at least feel for a moment what our ancestors must have felt on a daily basis; to be a part of something bigger than you and learn how to thrive in that environment. Because it’s changing all the time there’s always an element of uncertainty on some level. Freedom and uncertainty go hand in hand.’
While the ocean may offer absolute freedom in many respects, it doesn’t mean that Healey is diving in head first. Quite the opposite, in fact. ‘The ocean’s biggest danger is a lack of preparation, knowledge and physical conditioning,’ he says. ‘The ocean is going to do what it’s going to do whether you are there or not, so you have to focus on the elements that are in your control. Because preparation is so key… I don’t work with any equipment that I don’t trust.’
But for a man who favours freediving to using oxygen tanks, Healey’s equipment is surprisingly sparse. These days the only thing you’ll find on his person (other than a wetsuit) is the Bremont Waterman, a super limited-edition new timepiece Healey has designed in collaboration with Bremont Watch Company. Healey crossed paths with Bremont founders, brothers Nick and Giles English, while consulting for a high-end resort in Indonesia. The trio immediately hit it off and found synergy in their shared love of high-octane pursuits; albeit of completely different terrains.
‘The style of Bremont’s timepieces really click with me and the way they work with aviation, the military and explorers to create pieces that you can depend on is pretty unique. It’s not just a pretty face. It’s the only piece of equipment or clothing that I have on me at all times, anywhere I go, so it has more demands on it than any other item I own. It’s durable, accurate and looks good.’
As with all Bremont timepieces, the Waterman is quite a feat of engineering – and only 300 have been produced. The satin and stainless steel watch’s movement is mounted in a patented anti-shock system and can withstand water up to 500 metres. But it’s not just a sturdy piece of kit (rest assured, Healey has already put it through its paces). Thanks to the impact of Blue Planet II, the sustainability of our oceans has never been more prevalent. As a company that’s committed to philanthropy and championing small-scale charities, Bremont has pledged to donate a percentage of sales of the Waterman to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, a grassroots charity close to Healey’s heart that inspires local communities to take care of their coastlines. Not just a pretty face indeed…
The Bremont Waterman is available now and retails at £4,395; bremont.com