Luxury watches from fishing nets, paper, food scraps

With the world of haute horology speaking about sustainability so aggressively in 2021, these are the timepieces to know

The pandemic has, among other things, forced us to review our sustainable choices. Which is why the 51st annual Earth Day saw active participation on social media – from Google’s doodle to Snapchat’s launch of AR lenses and bitmojis to help users share conservation tips to content creators listing smart Instagram captions. At the recent edition of Watches and Wonders, the terms sustainability and eco-materials made more than a guest appearance. Watchmakers are going all out by encouraging ethical sourcing of precious materials, even imposing sustainable standards for retailers.

Panerai’s CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué, at an experts panel held at the virtual fair, evoked luxury carmakers and even Swiss coffee powerhouse, Nespresso’s, shift towards sustainability as one of the major triggers. “In the future, all Panerai’s watches will have a share of recycled elements in some percentage or the other,” Pontroué committed, offering to share the supply chain behind the recycled parts for the new Panerai Ecologico E-LabID, the first watch to be made almost entirely of sustainable material. CEO Sascha Moeri said that as part of Carl F Bucherer’s comprehensive CSR programme, “not only do the novelties feature recycled materials but our close work with the Manta Trust Foundation based in the UK ties into a larger sustainability picture”. There is a call for major stakeholders in the industry to collaborate to push this trend. At another Watches and Wonders forum, Chopard’s CEO Karl-Friedrich Scheufele opined, “We recently revived a watch line called Alpine Eagle, made of 70 per cent recycled steel. I’d be very happy if someone else picked this idea up, it’s not something that we feel we should exclusively own”.

The question remains if Indian customers are ready to pay high premiums for these eco-material watches. Retail specialist Gaurav Bhatia, founder of Art of Time, seems optimistic about “seasoned watch collectors who want to own a green timepiece”. He adds that this is certainly a trend to watch in India.

Here are some of our favourite new watches with recycled or sustainable materials:

Carl F Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Maldives:

This new addition to the Patravi ScubaTec family celebrates the watchmaker’s collaboration with the Manta Trust Foundation. Be it the nifty blue strap made from natural rubber or the fabric insert created with 100 % recycled bottles recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, the blue dial and ceramic bezel of this automatic watch give out a nautical elegance. ₹5,30,000 approx.

The Panerai eLab iD 

Panerai eLab ID:

This concept watch is Panerai’s most environmentally-sustainable model to date, boasting a total of 98.6% of its weight coming from recycled materials. The case, dial and bridge are made of EcoTitanium, said to be comprised of more than 80% recycled elements. Panerai’s unmistakable aesthetic shines through in the gorgeous bezel and hands, with just the right pops of colour to add that sporty element. For something one can buy this year, there is the Panerai Luminor Marina eSteel, featuring a new alloy that incorporates recycled materials. ₹7,53,521 approx from October 2021.

Ulysse Nardin Diver Net  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ulysse Nardin Diver Net:

From the sea to the wrist — this tagline aptly describes the concept behind this model. In 2020, the Swiss maison showcased the R-Strap that features on this watch. Made entirely with recycled fishing nets, a huge source of ocean pollution. For the case, middle, back and bezel embellishment of this concept watch, Ulysse Nardin partnered with Fil&Fab, a Brittany-based organisation. Price TBA

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43:

A watchmaker that we follow closely for its ties with the world of aviation, IWC’s novelty, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43, now offers the possibility of fastening on the new paper-based TimberTex straps. IWC’s CMO and Sustainability Committee Chair, Franziska Gsell called it “an alternative for [our] clients who don’t wear animal leather”. TimberTex is made of 80% natural plant fibres, sourced sustainably and manufactured in Italy, coloured with natural plant-based dyes. ₹6,54,500 approx.

Cartier SolarBeat Tank Must:

This is the first ever solar-powered watch by the house of Cartier, and it comes with the promise of a service-free running time of 16 years! The straps come in various colours and are designed in non-animal leather, produced from food scraps. The Tank Must’s stainless steel case and signature spinel crown pack in a quartz movement, an ivory dial, and come in two different sizes. Slotted for a later 2021 launch at ₹1,85,763 approx. for the small and ₹1,95,501 for the large.

Baume & Mercier Baume Ocean:

With recycled plastic on its 42 mm body, this gray-blue automatic timepiece fits right into the sporty chic trend. The Baume Ocean Limited edition features an interchangeable strap made of woven rPET and lined with natural black cork. This self-winding watch, with a power reserve of 38 hours and a water resistance of approximately 30m, is a strategic move in Baume & Mercier’s sustainable journey. ₹1.08 lakh approx.

Swatch’s Bioceramic Big Bold:

Easier on the pocket is Swatch’s chic Bioceramic Big Bold, which uses ceramic with plastic materials that have been bio-sourced. Not only is this material resilient but it is also soft to the touch, besides making quite a statement in its different coloured editions, which, Swatch says, will strategically target millennial consumers. ₹9,605.

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