While we’re all out to share Instagram photos for Earth Day, it’s also a good time to look back and think about what we’re doing to the planet.
The styling industry, in particular, is responsible for an insane amount of waste, water consumption and pollution. Most can argue that watches have a longevity that few other fashionable items have, but the manufacturing processes, packaging, and material extraction are not without negative effects, either.
Watch manufacturers, however, are redoubling their efforts to achieve sustainability, especially as consumer attitudes continue to grow in favor of environmentally friendly products.
Gone are the days of shiny exotic wooden boxes and plastic packaging. Today, more and more people have started to opt for recyclable and / or ethically sourced materials. After all, who would want to see a hundred-year-old tree cut down just to make a box you won’t soon forget?
All of these are not without challenges, however, as reversing the damage we have done to the planet requires a lot more effort than damaging it in the first place. Panerai, for example, had to challenge partners and suppliers from industry and beyond to experiment and collaborate on its latest achievement, the eLAB-ID. Because many had never worked with such high levels of recycled content before, it took a lot of time and effort to develop materials that would be both sturdy and luxurious enough to make the cut.
Other sustainable initiatives adopted by watch brands include ocean conservation efforts, sustainable manufacturing processes, and renewable resources. If you want to do your part, these brands and timepieces are the ones to watch out for the next time you want to make an eco-responsible decision.
Panerai has always been at the forefront of material development, so it was only a matter of time before it found a material tough enough to withstand the functions of a diver’s watch, but luxurious enough for a Panerai. , while using the highest percentage of recycled materials in a watch.
In total, 98.6 percent of submersible eLAB-ID the weight comes from materials incorporating a high rate of recycled elements. In this case, its sandwich dial, case and bridges are made of Eco-Titanium, an aerospace-grade light alloy made up of over 80% recycled titanium. Even the SuperLumiNova on its dial and hands is fully recycled, as is the silicon in the movement’s escapement.
Another watch brand that has immersed itself in sustainable development is Alpina. His Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic is a collection of five models whose cases and straps are made from recycled materials from the ocean.
Here, the housing gives new life to debris derived from fishing nets collected in the Indian Ocean and is made of 70 percent plastic and reinforced with 30 percent fiberglass. The two-tone NATO strap continues the message, again made from recycled plastic bottles collected from the oceans. For more formal occasions, there is also a black vegetable leather strap made from apple waste.
Ulysse Nardin timepieces maybe from another world, but they are still determined to do good for planet Earth. Recognizing the impact of carbon watches have today, the watchmaker created Carbonium, a super durable and lightweight carbon material that first appeared on the Freak X and now the new limited edition Diver X Skeleton. This material has a 40% lower environmental impact compared to ordinary carbon-based materials, which are generally very energy intensive to manufacture.
Last year, the brand also launched the Diving net, a concept watch that has seen its “R-Strap” decoration, case, back and bezel in recycled fishing nets. This was done in collaboration with three young Breton designers from WIRE & FOB, which has succeeded in creating the first fishing net recycling sector in France.
You may have heard of IWC’s paper-based TimberTex watch straps, but that’s not all the company is doing for the planet. The Schaffhausen-based manufacturer is so committed to sustainability that it has gone above and beyond to reimburse even a large portion of the travel costs for its employees who commute to work by public transport. The company even helped staff cover the costs of installing solar panels in homes.
Other efforts are to always opt for products certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), which promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. TimberTex straps, for example, are made of 80% natural plant fibers, sourced from trees grown in sustainably and responsibly managed European forests.
By 2025, the watchmaker also aims to operate all of its stores entirely on green energy.
Breitling has always been a strong supporter of eco-friendly partnerships, such as the long-standing one with Ocean Conservancy, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the global fight for healthy oceans and clean beaches. Beyond efforts such as organizing beach cleanings, the brand also launched the limited edition Breitling Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy, which saw its NATO strap made in Econyl Yarn. The unique fabric is reused from nylon waste found in the oceans and can be recycled over and over again.
Even its watch box promises to go further. Made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, the new packaging is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and is collapsible, reusable, and shipped with a much lower carbon footprint.
The new Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown also continues to promote sustainability in fine watchmaking. The collaborative effort was made possible by the watchmaker and his namesake, Outerknown – a brand co-founded by surf legend Kelly Slater that uses only organic, recycled or reclaimed materials.
Blancpain’s connection to the ocean means the brand not only creates some of the best diving watches, but is also committed to protecting deep blues. Its flagship model, the Fifty Fathoms, was launched in 1953 and has since spawned variants dedicated to the cause, such as the 250-piece Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III.
Proceeds from the project were donated to marine expeditions and conservation efforts, as well as the Gombessa Expedition, whose research revealed the impact of global warming in Antarctica.
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.