Your watches are now made from recycled fishing nets and used aerospace titanium
More watchmakers are embracing sustainably-made timepieces to appeal to the growing number of eco-conscious consumers.
Luxury timepieces are usually built to last, but don’t let their longevity fool you into thinking that that’s enough to lessen the damage all that manufacturing is doing to the planet. One can even argue that their intrinsically excessive nature is not doing the earth any favours. That being said, the luxury consumer is changing.
According to a 2020 report from Bain & Company, there is heightened environmental and social consciousness among the well-heeled. Boston Consulting Group offered similar insights, suggesting that the COVID-19 crisis has made people more conscious of sustainability and the environment.
It will take a while before sustainability becomes the norm on the brand side of things, but a handful of watchmakers are already doing their part for their industry.
Last year, Ulysse Nardin unveiled the Diver Net concept watch, featuring a case and case back made from recycled fishing nets and a bezel and bezel insert made from recycled PET. Its strap was also crafted from fishing nets, and it used a transparent ceramic glass instead of sapphire crystal because the former required fewer resources to manufacture. It was also around this time that Breitling started using new packaging that was made entirely from upcycled PET, and released its third watch made in partnership with sustainable apparel brand Outerknown.
Other efforts are less immediately obvious, but set a fine example of what sustainable practices should look like: Girard-Perregaux and Boucheron both source 100 per cent of their gold through the Kering Ethical Gold Framework (KEGF) and have dedicated spaces for beekeeping, among other measures.
Blancpain also regularly dedicates its resources to scientific marine expeditions and environmental initiatives like the World Ocean Summit. Whenever it releases a Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment watch, €1,000 (S$1,600) from the sale goes to a charity that supports marine conservation.
And the momentum is growing as more big names join the cause this year, making it easier than ever before to ride the real green trend (green-coloured timepieces being the other major trend for 2021).
CARTIER TANK MUST DE CARTIER
Whenever Cartier releases a new collection, we’ve come to expect the brand to provide every combination of case material, size, gem-setting and movement imaginable. But what we didn’t foresee was the introduction a new solar-powered option in its relaunch of the Tank Must de Cartier.
Perforations in the dial’s Roman numerals allow light in to power the photovoltaic “SolarBeat” movement, and offers a convenient 16 years of battery life. What’s more, 40 per cent of the optional non-leather straps are made from plant matter, using waste from apples grown in the food industry in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. These too, benefit from Cartier’s QuickSwitch strap-changing system.
A watch strap made from trees sounds like the exact opposite of eco-friendly, but IWC’s TimberTex is not just responsibly manufactured, but also cruelty-free and not plastic or petroleum-based.
TimberTex is composed of 80 per cent natural plant fibres, and the cellulose used comes from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)’s sustainably managed forests in Europe. They are then brought to Italy to be crafted using traditional paper-making techniques, coloured with natural plant-based dyes, and padded with recycled microfibre.
These water-resistant straps – available in dark blue, dark brown and black – will currently fit the Portugieser Chronograph, Portugieser Automatic 40, Portofino Automatic and Portofino Chronograph.
PANERAI SUBMERSIBLE ELAB-ID PAM01225
Panerai is leading the pack in terms of just how much of a watch can be made from recycled materials, because the Submersible eLAB-ID PAM01225 proves that the answer is, “almost all of it”.
The case, sandwich dial and bridges use “Ecotitanium”, a titanium alloy recycled from the aerospace industry, the escapement uses recycled silicon, the strap is made out of recycled fabric and even the lume, gold hands, rotor and other movement parts use recycled-based material. All of that totals 98.6 per cent of the watch being made from stuff that used to be other stuff. This is a limited edition of 30 pieces.
Prefer the shine and weight of stainless steel? Panerai has also released a trio of Luminor Marina eSteel watches this year with cases and dials made from recycled-based steel alloys, in dark blue, green or grey. These derive 58.4 per cent of its weight from recycled-based materials.
ULYSSE NARDIN DIVER X SKELETON
It’s too bad that Ulysse Nardin’s Diver Net has yet to make it to regular production, but we can still enjoy the Diver X Skeleton in the meantime. Carbonium, an extremely lightweight and robust aerospace material made from the same fibres as those used for aircraft wings and fuselages, was first seen on the Freak X, and now graces the bezel and barrel cover of this futuristic dive watch.
Because Carbonium is manufactured from waste materials, it has a 40 per cent lower environmental impact compared to carbon, but it also boasts its own unique pattern which is achieved by subjecting carbon fibres to high temperatures and pressures. Limited to 175 pieces.