How Can the Watch Industry Be Greener?

The Swiss watch industry appears to be stepping up its efforts to combat climate change.
Last month, Cartier and Kering, the Paris-based luxury group that owns the watchmakers Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin — announced a campaign open to any jewellery and watch companies willing to commit to an ambitious set of environmental and social responsibility goals.

The Watch and Jewelry Initiative 2030 represents the chorus of voices within the Watch Industry advocating for a more immediate response to the climate catastrophe. They appear to be asking the same question: How can the industry be more environmentally friendly?

Ten luxury watch industry insiders, including content makers, collectors, horology specialists, and an industrial environmentalist, share their thoughts. Their responses have been trimmed and condensed.

I like to knock the Apple Watch about a bit whenever we chat on the podcast because it’s endangered technology that will need to be replaced in the next two to three years. It also has a lithium battery. An automatic or hand-wound watch that consumes minute quantities of lubrication is the way to go, as opposed to battery-powered watches, which have a shelf life of one or two generations.

Sometimes I look at it from a pragmatic standpoint, and other times from a romantic standpoint. The idealistic notion is that everyone should care for the environment and do their part, but the truth is that larger businesses are all about the luxury side, and they want to give you the enormous polished veneer box that may or may not come from a sustainable forest, but it’s a presentation box. And it’s not only the stuff that goes into the package; it’s also the gasoline used by the trucks and ships that convey it from the warehouse to the retailer. However, when compared to the garbage produced by humans on a daily or monthly basis.

At the end of the day, customer demand for greener products, particularly those that aren’t absolutely required, must be met. When we go out to buy fish, we inquire where it was caught, right? Many of us also avoid the horrendously farmed Norwegian salmon. Or, just as it became mandatory 15 years ago to inquire about the origins of diamonds to ensure they were not blood diamonds, we could inquire about the gold in our watches.

When the demand is strong enough, everyone makes the necessary changes. I’m also not averse to legislation that could expedite things. After all, I’m Swedish; just listen to Greta.


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