Can A Luxury Watch Be 100% Sustainable?
With the threat of climate change being discussed in global platforms in the past decade more vigorously than before and nations coming forward with targets for attainment of carbon neutrality, sustainability is a core issue that has to be addressed by industry. With Millennial and Generation Z showing an increasing preference for eco-friendly products, sustainability has become more important than before for the luxury watch industry. Dubai being a major luxury watches market, such discussions are also heard in the region.
Sustainability has to be approached from different perspectives to get a holistic picture.
Sustainability has to start from the choice of materials used in the production of a luxury watch. For eg. Panerai Submersible eLab-ID watch is known to be the most sustainable watch with a total of 98.6% of its weight composed of recyclable materials. The EcoTitanium used in the making of its case, sandwich dial and bridges are composed of pure recyclable material to a large extent. The crystal and gold hands are recycled. Companies are now conscious of using recyclable materials in packaging too. Wood fiberboard, bamboo and cotton are being used for packaging. Baume & Mercier came out with a Baume Ocean Limited Edition with cases made of 80% plastic collected by Waste Free Oceans Foundation. The material used in the interchangeable strap was also recycled plastic. Similarly Ulysse Nardin introduced the R-Strap made from recycled fishing nets.
Use of precious metals and gemstones put the watch companies at risk of buying material from politically unstable countries and where labor labor exploitation is high. Implementation of Traceability helps companies to trace the raw materials or components back to its origin and help understand whether the raw material suppliers follow ethical and environmental friendly practices. For example, Chopard, a pioneer in implementing sustainability strategies since 2013 sources all of its refined gold from miners and refiners who comply with international environmental standards. Since 2017, they have become the single largest buyer of Fairmined gold.
Some luxury watchmakers have also become conscious of the use of green energy in its supply chain. Swiss luxury watch maker Schaffhausen was the first to produce a sustainability report in line with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards. The company uses recycled gold where possible and buys from refineries powered by renewable energy.
Evolving Industry Standards
Sustainability is an ongoing process and different companies may be at different levels. Chopard has no doubt been a trendsetter inspiring several others to follow their lead. While the Millennials and Gen Z preference for environment and ethically produced products will put pressure on manufacturers to conform to sustainability standards.
Watch companies are also indirectly supporting environmental sustainability. One such approach is to provide funds for cleaning up oceans or recycling materials. Seiko’s Save the Ocean and Blancpain and Ocean Commitment and Breguet with Race for Water are just a few. However, careful monitoring and scrutiny may be required to find out how seriously committed the companies are or whether they are using it as a Public Relations (PR) exercise.
Growth of Pre-Owned Market
The growth of the pre-owned luxury market is testimony to the use of quality materials and serviceable components in the manufacture of time pieces. Most often the luxury watches outlast their owners and sustain their value. That doesn’t mean that luxury watch owners will curtail production. The limited numbers of watches produced and new models with unique features keep luxury watch lovers keep hunting for more.
While a 100% sustainable luxury watch industry may appear to be unattainable, the brand leaders have set the trend and global initiatives for carbon neutrality by governments and stepping up environmental regulation will lead to better compliance and push the watch industry closer to attaining 100% sustainability goals. If you are looking for pre-owned luxury watches of leading brands in Dubai, visit Haute Horologue.