Status watches have lagged behind categories like fine jewelry and designer accessories when it comes to offering enduring conversation pieces, but lately they’ve been catching up. And make no mistake: customers are listening.
“I don’t know if this is the ultimate decision factor, but customers are aware of it,” said Scott Meller, president of LA’s Feldmar Watch Co., with brands like Oris, Breitling and Bremont all releasing timepieces with sustainable elements in recent months. “People still select or buy a watch for more traditional reasons (its movement and features, the way it looks on the wrist) but they are also aware and concerned about the environment. Durability in a watch adds value, there is no doubt about that.”
This fall, one of the most talked-about actors in the world will join the conversation. In October, watchmaker from Geneva ID Geneva announced that the latest round of investors also includes environmental lawyer Leonardo DiCaprio.
“As an environmental advocate, I am thrilled to be an equity investor in ID Geneva,” said the Killers of the Flower Moon star in a statement. “Their commitment to the principles of the circular economy, sustainable materials and innovation is truly inspiring, as is the progress they have made in such a short time. I am excited to support the team and the company’s growth as it drives change in the luxury industry and beyond.”
Indeed, ID Geneva is perhaps the most committed watch company to sustainability, creating pieces with details like recycled steel remelted in a solar oven, straps that are vegan and compostable, and packaging made from mushrooms and seaweed. In September, the brand released Circular C, featuring a bezel and dial made from recycled carbon fibers sourced from wind turbine production waste.
Meller notes that a watch brand’s sustainable commitments can typically be divided into three strategies: donating money to environmental causes, a partnership that highlights an organization’s name and influences the design of a watch, or the use of recycled materials in the design. “It could be one of those ideas, or all three at the same time,” he adds.
Breitling advertises its, among other things NATO straps, made of ECONYL yarnmade from recycled nylon waste from the oceans, while Bremont has just been released Supermarine Ocean in “Thresher Gray” supports ocean conservation.
In August, Oris released a new collaboration with the German company Bracenet, which makes products from discarded fishing nets. “When we cut the nets to make our products, there is always residual waste left over,” explains Bracenet founder Benjamin Wenke. “We thought, what if we turned some of these into watch faces?” The result is a special edition Oris Aquis dive watch (in men’s and women’s sizes) with a dial made from material made from those abandoned nets. “This would essentially mean that the nets used for the dials have been upcycled twice,” says Wenke, noting that the manufacturing process means no two dials are the same.
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.