The world knows it’s time for change. Sustainability is at the tip everybody’s tongue, consumers and brands alike. Eco-awareness has increased amongst many, and buyers are now asking more questions about the way their goods are sourced and produced.
That being said, while many are questioning the origin and manufacture of food, clothing, or cosmetics, not much light has been shed on the issue of sustainability in the world of watches. However, many watch companies are now dialling up their efforts in committing to the responsible use of resources, relying on sustainable means of production as a way of bettering the environment whilst simultaneously increasing eco-awareness.
Before we dive into our list, it’s vital to consider the current state of the production process of luxury watches. As you may know, luxury watches rely heavily on the extraction of high-quality raw materials. Take gold as an example. Most consumers aren’t made aware of where the gold in their luxury watch comes from, or how it is mined.
So, whilst the luxury price tag covers the value of the gold used, as well as the exceptional craftsmanship involved in the production process, does it cover the consequential damage of mining the gold in the first place? Things like community displacement, environmental damage and water pollution are all consequences of unethical gold mining, so it is important to bear in mind the true origin of the materials that are being used to create the luxury watches we’ve grown to love.
Another point of consideration is textiles. Many of us love a NATO strap on a classic diving piece, or a classy leather strap reserved for fine occasions or black tie. The good news is that there are many initiatives geared towards guaranteeing the sustainable production of textiles or leather products, all the way from the way the materials are sourced, to how they are manufactured under socially responsible working conditions.
The MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX is a stellar example of this kind of initiative. It is a traceable product label for all kinds of textiles and leather products, including non-textile/leather components. Their MADE IN GREEN label verifies that an article has been tested for harmful substances, and they also provide you with a unique product ID on the label which allows you to trace the countries and production facilities in which the labelled article was produced.
Not only is this a means of actively showing consumers how and where their products were manufactured, but it also serves as a means of offering individual consumers a unique insight into how their product made its way into their hands. This encourages a more conscious attitude towards buying, ultimately benefiting the people of the earth, and the earth itself.
All of these environmentally friendly guarantees can easily find their way into the world of luxury watches. It’s also the perfect means of reminding consumers where their goods are coming from, allowing them to become more responsible in their shopping habits and refining their approach to what items they purchase. After all, if you are going to purchase a luxury watch, you want to be sure that it was a labour of love, rather than a process that brought about negative consequences for people or the environment.
Now, here is our list of the top 5 brands leading the way in eco-friendly timekeeping.
Oris - Aquis Clean Ocean
Ref: 01 733 7732 4185
Oris has been striving to bring change for the better within the world of horology by paying more attention to the way their watches are made.
Their Oceans Project is at the forefront of this ambition, with the purpose of highlighting the threat posed to the world’s oceans by plastic. The Clean Ocean Limited Edition timepiece is the symbol of this initiative, with each of the 2,000 pieces created featuring a unique medal made of recycled PET plastic inserted into the case back.
The watch was born out of a partnership between Oris and a new pioneering ocean conservation organisation called Pacific Garbage Screening. The design of the timepiece itself does a good job of expressing the beauty of the ocean, captured by the alluring gradient on the blue dial and the shimmering aqua blue bezel.
Omega - Seamaster Aqua Terra “GoodPlanet”
Omega have long been hailed as one of the pioneering luxury watch brands for years now. They deliver highly accurate timepieces, each and every one manufactured with microscopic diligence, all in the name of maintaining their high production standards. The Seamaster Aqua Terra “GoodPlanet” is a stand-out example, featuring a sturdy titanium build with a sharply distinct watch face. What is perhaps more interesting than the exquisite build quality and aesthetic appeal of this watch is the motivation behind its initial conception.
Created in 2005 by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, the GoodPlanet Foundation aims to encourage people to take concrete action to protect the earth and its inhabitants. Since partnering with Omega, it has collaborated on two documentaries: Terra and Time For The Planet.
Designed as a tribute to this rewarding partnership, the Seamaster Aqua Terra GoodPlanet GMT combines innovative watchmaking with an unwavering commitment to environmental conservation. In doing so, Omega pledged a portion of the proceeds from this watch to funding Time For The Planet, in a bid to raise more awareness around the importance of eco-friendly practices within industry and daily life.
Rolex - Oyster Perpetual Explorer II
Last but not least on our list is Rolex.
For the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, the world was like a living laboratory. He used the environment as a testing ground for his watches from the 1930s, by testing their durability in the most extreme environments and supporting explorers who ventured into the unknown.
Today, Rolex still endorses Wilsdorf’s legacy of exploration, and does so as a means to preserve the natural world by supporting the explorers of today on their new mission: to make the planet perpetual.
This is the aim of Rolex’s Perpetual Planet campaign - a commitment to exploration and explorers, as well as something beyond discovery: a sense that we, as humans, must join together to take better care of the planet.
Within this campaign, Rolex have sponsored many scientific expeditions to promote exploration linked to the preservation of the planet. From ocean conservation initiatives, to the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, they have embodied the spirit of making their world a better place through the love of exploration.
This is why we’ve showcased the Explorer II to represent this initiative. It gives the wearer the durability they need from a timepiece designed to face the toughest conditions, fully embracing the Rolex heritage of exploration and discovery for the greater good of our planet.
It is built from an extremely resistant Oystersteel and comes fully waterproofed up to 100 metres. It also comes equipped with an additional 24-hour display, with a dedicated hand that circles the dial in 24 hours rather than the usual 12. This can help the wearer distinguish between the hours of the day from the hours of the night, which could be a vital feature for explorers who find themselves in an environment with little light.