In the age of corporate responsibility, most companies are starting to choose philanthropic causes over high-profile ambassadorships, and the watch industry has been particularly progressive in this area. Watches tend to be associated with sports and outdoor adventures, so supporting the environment is an authentic connection, since customers want to feel good about conserving their surroundings. From helping to pick up garbage on the beach to funding full scientific research programs and expeditions, here are eight watch brands helping to keep our planet clean, safe and intact.
Heal the ocean
The ocean is a strong focus, with Omega, Oris, Breitling, Blancpain, Carl F. Bucherer and Rolex all supporting ocean conservancy in some way – essentially the key makers of diver’s watches. A portion of the sales of Omega’s Seamaster Planet Ocean collection is earmarked to support the GoodPlanet Foundation, which raises awareness about environmental conservation. Omega collaborated on two conservation projects in Indonesia, one of which focused on protecting the ecosystem and coral reefs in the northern region of Sulawesi. The endeavour was documented in an award-winning film, Planet Ocean, which can be seen on YouTube.
Breitling’s SuperOcean Heritage collection supports Ocean Conservancy, which is concerned with cleaning up the world’s beaches. It has organized tens of thousands of coastal cleanup operations over the past 30 years, in 153 countries. Breitling’s new SuperOcean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition is dedicated to the cause. It was launched in May at a beach cleanup event in Bali, supporting OC’s goal to remove plastic from beaches. Breitling’s “Surfers Squad” of ambassadors was on-hand to help, including surfers Kelly Slater from the U.S. and Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore of Australia.
Blancpain is also helping to safeguard the oceans, by contributing to environmental causes through special Fifty Fathoms editions. The most recent is the Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III. The company will donate €1,000 from the sale of each watch, for a total of €250,000 (it is limited to 250 pieces) to ocean conservation programs. To date, Blancpain has co-financed 18 scientific expeditions and participated in the doubling of marine protected surface area around the world, partly through Pristine Seas Expeditions, which has created new marine protected areas covering more than four million square kilometres.
Protect endangered species
Each watch in Oris’s Ocean Trilogy is dedicated to a specific environmental program. The Blue Whale Limited Edition (200 pieces) supports the work of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, which creates healthy habitats for these endangered species. The Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition III (2,000 pieces) supports the Reef Restoration Foundation program to regrow devastated coral reefs. The Clean Ocean Limited Edition (2,000) supports a partnership with Pacific Garbage Screening, which is developing technology to capture plastic before it enters the oceans. Each comes in a box with an outer shell made of environmentally friendly algae and a recycled plastic inlay.
Carl F. Bucherer’s Patravi Scubatec Black Manta Special Edition is dedicated to saving the endangered manta ray. Part of the proceeds from its sale will be donated to the Manta Trust, a UK-based charity active in 20 countries with the mission of conserving the oceans and the habitat of the rare manta rays. The trust leads global research projects and awareness campaigns to help preserve the gentle giants of the ocean. Carl F. Bucherer’s contribution is specifically earmarked for research on the manta ray’s movement patterns.
Rolex focuses on land, sea and air under its Perpetual Planet program, a consolidation of its ongoing environmental initiatives under one umbrella. The three-pronged approach includes: a partnership with the National Geographic Society – Rolex has been working with the Society since the 1950s – that involves an expedition to Mount Everest to study the impacts of climate change; ongoing support for biologist Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue Ocean conservation program to save some of the world’s hot spots threatened by environmental degradation; and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which recognize people working to advance our well-being and/or protect the environment. One of the programs involves using previously unrecycled plastic to manufacture components used in cars and electronics.
Chopard’s conservation efforts are focused on tracking its supply chain as a way to support sustainable luxury. The company has committed to using as much Fairmined gold as it can source for its watch cases. Fairmined gold is a certified label that guarantees it is sourced from responsible artisanal and small-scale mining operations. It includes strict standards for working conditions, including fair labor practices, the prohibition of child labor, social development and environmental protection during the mining process. Chopard smelts its own gold, and is thus in a position to recycle its own scrap, which means the Fairmined gold is recirculated.
A brand’s attachment to environmental causes should not be the only consideration when buying a watch, but it is a strong factor to bear in mind, adding an extra element to the decision process. And since many of them are limited editions, they are also more rare, which adds value-retention potential.