Twenty twenty-one has been the year of the green watch, and not just in dial colors ranging from lime to pine. While the young year has for sure yielded a heaping helping of green dials, it's also marked what looks like a pivotal movement for sustainability in the watch industry.
Mechanical watches are inherently sustainable objects, intended to last decades or longer and even outlive their original owners. Taking the concept one step further, watchmakers are looking to integrate sustainable manufacturing methods where they can, using technologies and practices ranging from solar energy to recycling.
It isn't always easy being green, as a famous frog once said. For an industry steeped in luxury and permanence, rummaging in the recycling bin to build new products might not always seem quite on brand. But times and consumer tastes are changing.
Let's take a look at some of the sustainable watchmaking products that launched in 2021.
Swatch BioCeramic Big Bold Next
The Swatch watch, launched in 1983, went a long way toward demonstrating that quartz, plastic, and Swiss manufacturing could not only co-exist but thrive. Crafting watches with familiar methods wasn't the mindset that put Swatch on the map, and it's not how the brand has operated over the last 38 years. Recently, Swatch has looked to make watches from bio-derived materials.
With the BioCeramic, launched as a capsule collection a couple of weeks ago, Swatch has made a watch of mixed ceramic (⅔) and bio-derived plastic (⅓). The plastic portion is made using the seeds of the castor plant. Available in simple black and white as well as blue, pink and grey, each will set you back $125. It’s proof that sustainability doesn't have to cost lots of money.
IWC TimberTex Straps
Shortly before Watches & Wonders, IWC announced a line of sustainable straps made from a paper-based material called TimberTex. Composed of 80% natural plant fibers and handmade with natural dyes in Italy, TimberTex straps can be added to select IWC Portugieser and Portofino models.
IWC began looking into high-quality alternatives for leather-based straps in 2018, with the goal of finding a material that was both vegan and green. The cellulose in the straps comes from managed forests or tree farms, and the stitching and lining from recycled materials.
Perhaps most interesting, the TimberTex straps are water resistant. Water resistance isn't something that can be claimed for your run of the mill leather strap. Score one for sustainability. IWC's TimberTex straps are offered in blue, brown and black.