The enduring trend that innovative watch brands are following
The watch industry is often criticized for being quite unsustainable. The reality is that the materials that go into watchmaking – precious metals, jewelry, batteries – are often produced by extractive and environmentally damaging methods.
Of course, watchmaking is nowhere near as wasteful as other industries, and watch brands have made giant strides in recent years in terms of minimizing their environmental and ethical impact. But some watchmakers have gone beyond their mission to make their designs more sustainable – and as consumers become more environmentally conscious, these are the brands that are sure to reap the rewards.
One particular problem that the watchmaking world has proven to be quite adept at has been the proliferation of ocean plastic. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. Animals frequently ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, causing serious injury and death, and plastic pollution also threatens human health; food safety and quality; coastal tourism and recreation; and contributes to climate change.
But plastic can be recycled – and that’s where watchmakers come in. Ocean plastic is a problem, but it’s also a resource: some forward-thinking watch brands are turning ocean plastic into designer accessories, killing two birds with one stone. The fascination with watches, as a fan of watches, is that watches can tell a story – and what better story than the one about saving the planet?
Let’s focus on a few watch brands that are turning ocean plastic into stylish accessories.
Tom ford It might not be the first name you think of when it comes to watches, but the American fashion designer has launched a pretty impressive new line of stylish watches made in Switzerland. The main piece of his collection, however, is the very beautiful but also very avant-garde 002 Ocean Plastic. As the name suggests, it features a unique hand-braided case and bracelet made entirely from 100% recycled ocean plastic. According to the brand, each watch produced permanently removes the equivalent of 35 bottles of plastic waste from the ocean. Tom Ford also created the âTom Ford Plastic Innovation Awardâ to find a replacement for thin-film plastic, offering a million dollar purse.
Breitling has always been a particularly avant-garde player in the Swiss watch industry. Their new Endurance Pro is emblematic of the brand’s current trajectory: the action-oriented watch available with a NATO Outerknown strap in ECONYL yarn, woven from regenerated nylon made entirely from marine litter and landfills. Breitling has been very much aware of the collaborations they’ve written lately, and this one with Outerknown is particularly worthy.
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Founded in 2018 following a very successful Kickstarter campaign, the French company Awakened watches were founded solely for the purpose of making watches from marine litter. Awake made headlines in 2019 when they gifted their watches to French President Emmanuel Macron and all the G7 leaders – and if it’s good enough for world leaders, it’s good enough for us them. . Awake presents its AW.01 as “the world’s most advanced low-impact watch”: the minimalist watch case is made of recycled materials from fishing nets, its strap of plastic bottles and uses a Japanese Miyota solar movement to minimize maintenance conditions.
TRIWA is a Swedish watchmaker that you may not have heard of, but should keep in mind. The small Stockholm-based independent brand is known for its minimalist and well-thought-out timepieces, with its Time For Oceans collection especially in – you guessed it – ocean plastic. This is not the first time that TRIWA has experimented with sustainable materials: the company has also launched a collection called Time for Peace which features metal watches from smelted illegal firearms seized. It’s badass.
You’ve probably heard of our last two examples, because they’re titans of the luxury watch world: Ulysses Nardin and Panerai. The former released the Dive Net concept watch, which, similar to the aforementioned Awake AW.01 case, has a strap made from old fishing nets that have been ‘upcycled’. The latter, however, took upcycling to a whole new level with their Luna Rossa collection ahead of the America’s Cup: the watches in the collection feature dials made from recycled sailing materials and carbon fiber residue from boats. disused racing cars.
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Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to durable watches (pun intended). Ocean plastic isn’t the only way to make a durable watch: take Swatch Pair of SISTEM51 ‘Bio-Reloaded’ models or that of Mondaine Collection Essence, which uses renewable plant-based materials in its production.
Whether they come from the land or the sea, more durable materials are clearly the way forward in modern watchmaking.
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