A Walk Through The Sustainability Drive In The Watch Industry

31 Oct, 2022 Chat 0
A Walk Through The Sustainability Drive In The Watch Industry

Thanks to the increased awareness and the woke generation of today, waves of change can be felt across the globe. Significant efforts to make sustainability more than just a mere practice but a way of life have started in every field. The watch industry has also gradually made its response. Today, many luxury watch houses are coming up with initiatives that cater to issues beyond circularity, which is honestly a given as watches are innately sustainable and circular in nature.

How many objects will still potentially be working in 400 years? Not many. But a mechanical watch, maybe yes.

Zenith CEO, Julien Tornare at Watches and Wonder 2022—

Thankfully, the big players now understand that consumers gravitate towards brands whose values and behaviour are more aligned with sustainability. “They are looking for purpose-driven brands,” Ulysse Nardin CEO Patrick Pruniaux said at one of the panel discussions at this year’s Watches and Wonders. Hence, issues like transparency in production practices, material mining, and packaging are now taking centre stage.

Below we are discussing brands that have emerged out of the greenwashing realm and are coming up with meaningful solutions to problems of climate change, biodiversity, and depleting or degenerating natural resources.


A company with a deep connection to nautical timekeeping, Blancpain’s commitment to ocean preservation was only logical. It is aiding ocean conservation through a number of partnerships with leading social organisations. As a founding partner of the Pristine Sea Expeditions, Blancpain has helped protect marine areas in 11 regions, including the United States and Chile, safeguarding more than four million kilometres of ocean. Other initiatives by the house have created significant awareness about the marine environment and elusive species, like the great hammerhead shark found in French Polynesia.


Breitling is another brand that has committed to reinforcing actions against ocean pollution. In 2018, it partnered with Ocean Conservancy, a non-governmental organisation that works to protect marine life and clean beaches. It has organised thousands of cleanup events in about 153 countries for more than 35 years. In support of Ocean Conservancy’s efforts, Breitling launched a special limited edition Superocean watch in 2019. The watch was paired with a strap made from ECONYL® yarn, an extremely durable, recyclable material repurposed from waste.

Pollution of the beach during winter Montalivet, Medoc Gironde France
Pollution of the beach during winter Montalivet, Medoc Gironde France (Editorial credit: Shutterstock.com)

Other sustainable endeavours of the brand include 100% recycled packaging and 100% ethically sourced gold. By 2025, Breitling aims to use 100% renewable energy across all its headquarters and operations. 


Chopard deserves a lot of credit for taking the sustainability trend forward and has magnified the call for conscious practices across the industry. This mega watch and jewellery brand has committed to 100% ethically sourced gold since 2018. Subsequently, the gold used by Chopard is sourced from mines that adhere to strict human rights and environmental standards. In addition, the house has considerably reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions. It also uses 100% renewable electricity in all its Swiss facilities.

Yellow-orange toxic waste in water on the mountain in Colorado, USA
Yellow-orange toxic waste in water on the mountain, close to abandoned mines in Colorado, USA (Editorial credit: Shutterstock.com)

And that’s not all. More measures like responsible use of water resources, pruning the use of hazardous substances and chemicals, sensible waste management, and sustainable packaging form the policies followed by the brand under its Journey to Sustainable Luxury programme.


From responsible sourcing of gold to sustainable packaging — IWC is at the forefront of the sustainability drive. It has embraced all manner of conscious policies and practices across operations. To reduce the carbon footprint of its production, IWC has installed solar panels on the roof of its new Schaffhausen factory and is employing ways to reuse the heat generated by its machines. Further, the house aims at using only the forestry products that are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. They have also upgraded their shopping bags, changing the logo’s colour on the bag from silver to black in order to make them recyclable. As a result, IWC shopping bags are now entirely made from waste. 


In 2021, Oris became one of the few watch brands to be climate neutral. With the help of a social organisation called Plastic Bank, Oris offset more than 2,500 tonnes of CO2 by preventing one billion plastic bottles from entering the ocean under the project — Clean Oceans. For 2022, Oris has resolved to reduce 10% of its carbon footprint every year. In addition, the house has also made considerable efforts toward coral reef protection since 2014. In partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation, Oris has helped plant corals in many different sites, restoring more than 120,000 corals overall.

Dead, bleached coral reef - Rising sea temperature and global warming are killing coral reefs worldwide
Dead, bleached coral reef - Rising sea temperature and global warming are killing coral reefs worldwide (Editorial credit: Shutterstock.com)


With the release of Submersible eLAB-ID in 2021 and Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel in 2022, Panerai is embracing sustainability and circularity in materials, unlike any other luxury watch brand. The Submersible eLAB-ID is a concept watch made mostly from recycled material. It has 95% recycled SuperLuminova on the dial and hands and has used 100% recycled silicon for the escapement. Whereas the newly-introduced Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel is made from highly corrosion-resistant, 95% recycled steel and comes with a plastic strap made from recycled PET. With additional initiatives like creating awareness about ocean conservation and sustainable packaging, Panerai’s commitment to making itself a conscious entity is unwavering.

In conclusion, no doubt almost every watch brand today is doing its own bit, small or big, to empower the vision of sustainability. While there’s still a lot more to be done to drive a more substantial change, there are still signs of growth. But we must also remember that the responsibility to make a change does not solely fall on the watchmakers but also on the watch patrons. If production must be sustainable, so should consumption. Investing in brands and watches that adhere to sustainable processes and pre-owned pieces is a great way to uproot the linear process of — take, make, dispose — and positively impacting the environment. 


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