5 Sustainable Watch Brands For The Eco-Conscious Wearer

In the world of luxury timepieces, a new era of sustainability is dawning, with watchmakers pioneering eco-conscious practices to protect the planet.

June 5, 2024

Sustainability is a complex and often contentious term in the world of luxury. The world of horology however has still taken bold steps in going green and adopting environment-friendly practices compared to the world of fashion. From using sustainable materials to conserving the oceans and marine life, recycling plastic and using solar energy, luxury watchmakers have turned a sharper focus on their green initiatives to save the environment they borrow from. With sustained innovation at heart and meaningful collaborations, many brands are taking bold steps to leave a positive impact on the planet.

Here, we highlight five luxury watchmakers who are pushing the boundaries to save the environment.

1. Chopard

Synonymous with sustainable luxury since launching its Journey to Sustainable Luxury initiative in 2013, which pledged, among other eco-conscious practices, to use Fairmined gold and ethically sourced gemstones in its jewellery and watches, Chopard leads from the front as a conscious watchmaker. Driven by a dedication to make a positive difference in the luxury business, the family-run company, has achieved a significant milestone. Since 2018, Chopard has achieved a 100% ethical gold supply chain, and in collaboration with the Swiss Better Gold Association (SBGA), the luxury watch and jewellery Maison sources gold from the Barequeros in El Chocó, Colombia. This value chain is part of a broader programme supported by the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the SBGA to promote responsible small-scale gold mining. Since 2023, Chopard has extended the use of Lucent Steel™ to encompass the production of all its steel timepieces.

From the recent Watches and Wonders 2024 launch, the Happy Sport–33 mm is for women who like understated glamour. The five dancing gems add a pop of colour to the silver-toned dial featuring a guilloché centre. Crafted in Lucent Steel made from at least 80 per cent recycled material this alloy is brighter, stronger and more comfortable to wear than standard steel. Part of its most iconic line, Happy Sport, has charmed women all over with its mix-and-match game blending genres, steel and diamonds. Reinvented in an infinite palette of colours, confirming its playful character and its perpetual celebration of Joie de Vivre, the 250-piece limited edition timepiece in luminous blue marrying Chopard’s watchmaking excellence with the art of jewellery-making.

2. Panerai

Panerai’s watchmaking capabilities go beyond innovation in watch movements, materials and other horological advancements. As a conscious watchmaker, their focus has shifted to practices that minimise the ecological impact of every aspect of the watch industry, and they have developed several strategies for a sustainable future, including reducing waste and promoting the reuse of materials.

One of the most notable dive watch manufacturers in the world, Panerai is intrinsically connected to underwater exploration and hence improving the oceans’ health is critical to the company. With its longstanding associations with the Navy, Panerai is directly linked to the world of diving and ocean preservation. Panerai Ocean Conservation Initiative is a global campaign launched in partnership with IOC –UNESCO to unveil ‘The Ocean literacy’ in the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), aimed at involving as many people as possible in the transition towards more sustainable use of the ocean. Setting a benchmark for their environment-friendly timepieces—the Panerai Submersible eLAB-ID, is a groundbreaking example of ocean conservation. Made from 98.6 per cent recycled materials by weight, the watch represents the highest percentage of recycled-based material ever used in watchmaking with a recycled titanium alloy case, sandwich dial, 100 per cent recycled Super-LumiNova for its dial and hands and 100 per cent recycled silicon in its escapement.

The latest launch of 2024, Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel, is a one-of-a-kind that underscores the importance of sustainability while maintaining the brand’s established design codes and technical finesse. eSteelTM has the same properties as conventional steel, including identical chemical behaviour, physical structure and resistance to corrosion, making the metal a natural companion for the iconic Submersible collection of diving watches. This model features 72 grams of the Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel, made from recycled materials, accounting for 52 per cent of the watch’s total weight. The crown protection device is engraved, and the dial bears an inscription indicating the presence of eSteel. Available in deep blue, gray, and green, each watch comes with two straps: the first is made of fabric from recycled PET, and the second is crafted from recycled rubber.

3. Breitling

Sustainability is all about making better choices and being responsible about the raw material used to create a truly luxurious product that is bound to be handed down to generations. Until now, tracing the origins of precious materials in watchmaking has been a challenging endeavour. Even with the industry’s best practices, tracking gold and the small ‘melee’ diamonds to their source has been nearly impossible. Typically, these raw materials are combined from multiple origins, causing their provenance to be lost in the process. Breitling has taken this arduous challenge and created a Traceable Watch that transparently informs and engages owners about the origins of its precious materials.

For the first time, the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins makes its debut, featuring responsibly sourced Better Gold and Better Diamonds with full supply-chain traceability. A provenance record on the owner’s blockchain-backed NFT details the responsible measures taken along the supply chain for the watch’s artisanal gold and lab-grown diamonds, with all information independently verified. In a bold statement, the timepiece features lab-grown diamonds, type IIa single-crystal diamonds, which qualify as the most valued and purest type of diamonds and gold from a single artisanal mine that meets the Swiss Better Gold Association’s criteria. A conscious move by the brand to ensure that its precious materials used in Super Chronomat Origins are free from association with conflict or human rights abuses. On a mission towards sustainability, the brand aims to have all of its gold traceable to specific ASM mines by 2025. For every gram of gold purchased, Breitling makes a contribution that supports local community development projects.

4. Carl F. Bucherer

Continuing its support to the oceans and the Manta Trust since 2013, Carl F. Bucherer has launched the new vibrant green Patravi ScubaTec Verde. The timepiece highlights the brand’s contribution as the Manta Trust embarks on its latest research expedition in Ecuador, home to the world’s largest-known population of oceanic manta rays. Making a positive impact on the environment that inspires their dive watches planet, the Manta Trust is uncovering more about these mysterious, charismatic, and intelligent creatures.

Manta and devil rays are threatened by overfishing. Carl F. Bucherer’s efforts include supplying funds for ecological studies, research expeditions, and marine education programs. For several years, the Swiss watchmaker has crafted special diving watches as a tribute to the Manta Trust, contributing a portion of each timepiece’s retail proceeds directly to the charity. If you want to spend your bucks on a timepiece this year, opt for the stunning Patravi ScubaTec Verde in a striking green hue, with a lacquered dial featuring an intricate wave design detailing to its matching bezel, and a rubber strap featuring a textile inlay crafted from recycled PET. The vibrant colour draws inspiration from the lush green waters encircling Isla de La Plata, a small island situated roughly 40 km off the Ecuadorian coast where more than 22,000 oceanic manta rays gather annually during August and September.

5. TAG Heuer

TAG Heuer champions conservation through partnerships like the World Surf League and eco-conscious designs like the Aquaracer collection. Their commitment extends to ethical sourcing. They ensure their diamonds comply with the Kimberley Process to avoid conflict diamonds and follow the Responsible Jewelry Council principles, monitoring suppliers for social and human rights risks. TAG Heuer meets the LIFE (LVMH Initiatives For the Environment) 360 program requirements, applying energy-saving guidelines globally and conducting annual risk assessments with action plans for suppliers. They further reduce their environmental impact through energy-saving initiatives.

Following the groundbreaking TAG Heuer Aquaracer Solargraph, TAG Heuer introduces the new TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph collection. These 34mm timepieces are designed for outdoor adventures, featuring a unidirectional rotating bezel, screw-down crown, and water resistance to 200 meters. With five new dials, including mother-of-pearl options and diamond embellishments, they blend elegance and functionality. The Solargraph movement, developed with Manufacture La Joux-Perret, uses solar energy for power, eliminating battery changes and ensuring long-lasting performance.