Climate change is all the rage and so watch manufacturers must now tick sustainability boxes or face action by globalist governments, keen to tell consumers what to buy, and brands what to produce. That’s just how it is. Nobody gets to vote on it, OK? So please welcome some striking new ladies watches from Citizen, which consume less raw material to produce. More details below.
With its sustainably produced line of women’s watches, Citizen L has championed the effort to manufacture sustainable watches that prioritize the preservation of our global environment and societies of people worldwide. The first in the Citizen brand lines to adopt synthetically lab-grown diamonds, Citizen L uses these to express the natural beauty of Earth elements for the Ambiluna collection. This collection of women’s watches features a new model inspired by “water” and two other models influenced by mineral elements.
Inspired by “water” — one of four natural elements that make up all things — the new model philosophically completes the connection of the Earth to our future. The current models intro-duced in 2020 were inspired by the three elements: “Earth, Fire and Air.” The watches feature straps made from recycled plastics, gathered from beaches, so we get to clean up a little part of the earth every time we shop online. It’s all good. We love the deep blue one by the way, it has a great simplicity of design.
As you might expect the new models use the Eco-Drive system, which gives a ten year battery lifespan, rather than the typical 2-3 year span from a normal watch battery. Oh you thought that a Citizen Eco-Drive could defeat physics and just keep recharging its battery cell using light forever? Er..no, physics doesn’t work like that. The capacity to hold charge diminishes over time – nobody can stop that process, not even Elon Musk. That’s why battery smartphones, bicycles, cars, watches or anything else eventually dies – it cannot charge itself anymore.
Further, two limited-edition models influenced by “minerals” will be included in the Ambiluna collection. Drawing on the organic transformations of mineral elements over Earth’s long geo-logical evolution, these new models incorporate many stunningly unique colours and patterns.
The UK price and release date are to be determined, says Citizen.
I only ask the question because having worked for a few years in a pawbroker’s shop I can honestly say that not only have I seen no interest at all in the few Baume & Mercier watches in stock, but nobody ever enquired about a particular model either. Two people in two years came in Baume & Mercier watches to sell and were shocked at how little they were offered. Yoy may say that was because the pawnbroker was trying to buy them super cheap but you would be wrong. Fact is, most TAG quartz watches, nearly all modern Rado, Tissot and Longines, struggled to sell for over £700-£900 pre-owned, even in mint condition. Same story with B&M, they just don’t have the luxury cachet – or fanbase – associated with Omega, Breitling, IWC, JLC etc. The net result is that as a business, with huge overheads to pay every month, you end up offering £200-£300 on watch that you might sell – might – for £600-£750 a year down the line. It’s just business, nothing personal.
So it was interesting when B&M announced that Baume would become a hip, younger brand. Looking at the 2021 Baume product line up, I can see the doughty Clifton Club and Baumatic models are still there, which is understandable, but I kinda expected a clean break with watch designs which look like something from the 1990s. These are mdoels which you dad, or grandad might buy, and imho you’ll never win new customers with that strategy. Nobody under 30 wants to wear the same watch as their dad, even if it’s a Rolex Oyster.
Baume have some entry level quartz watches, which at £450 are not too expensive, plus 2% of that cost goes towards projects that remove plastic waste from the oceans. This is a good idea, definitely.
Now the Baume Ocean Upcycled automatic watches are also a very good marketing idea, plus 5% of the price goes to the plastic waste clean-up. This new BAUME watch is created in collaboration with Waste Free Oceans (WFO) and SEAQUAL Initiative, two partners that collect plastic debris from the seas to transform them into innovative products. “The BAUME OCEAN Limited Edition from the BAUME collection is much more than a product. It symbolizes our determination to support our partners – WFO and SEAQUAL INITATIVE – in their daily combat against marine pollution, and to participate in a global consideration of the Brand’s role in today’s society,” explains David Chaumet, CEO of Baume & Mercier.
The 42mm case on the Ocean model is crafted using a recycled plastic cap produced by the NGO WFO, a historical partner of BAUME; and the case is then sheathed in blue or green anodized aluminum. The cap is made up of 80% recycled plastic gathered by the partner NGO Waste Free Oceans and reinforced with 20% glass fibers to increase its resistance. Baume say they spent time selecting the plastic debris from the ocean that offers the highest performance, durability, and quality. This is anew direction for the B&M factory and it might just be the right road to take.
You see, today’s wokerati generation demand a product back story; full of cuddly dolphins, happy islanders dragging in plastic-free fishing nets at sunset and fewer product miles, so that Instagrammers who spend 9 months of their year taking private jets to exotic locations for photo shoots, can blog about sustainability. It’s all drivel of course, but if it makes people feel good about using less of the earth’s resources in manufacturing new watches, then that can only be good news. Because in the end, if the watch industry doesn’t play this game, it WILL get cancelled. Make no mistake.
So being eco-friendly, supporting the circular economy, is a way that Baume can win over a new, younger collector audience. It could well be then that Baume eventually survives at the expense of the old B&M brand name which seems a bit old hat by comparison? Much depends on the popularity those hipster upcycled automatics and I would suggest Baume urgently needs a smartwatch that also helps clean up the oceans. Meantime, if you want to go a different, more sustainable path as regards your watch habit, then The OCEAN BAUME Limited Edition is available for sale at £1290 on www.baume-et-mercier.com and on partner sites such as www.mrporter.com
As a footnote, there is a huge opportunity for Omega to make its Planet Ocean watches the ultimate marine life badge of virtue-signalling, with a minimum 5% donation to plastic waste gathering and backing various recycling projects around the world. Just saying.
The word from Mido on their distinctly Austin Powers Ocean Star Dive model;
The Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 reproduces the vintage charm of the Ocean Star Skin Diver Watch, a popular 1960s Mido model that remains one of the brand’s most sought-after.
Dedicated to the underwater world, this watch also served as a precious diving tool thanks to the multicoloured display of decompression stops on the dial. The version paying tribute to it today is limited to 1,961 pieces – in reference to the year the original model was released – and features a polished 40.5 mm case.
It uses the best of current technology, like a rotating bezel with countdown timer and a coloured table beneath a ‘glassbox’-style sapphire crystal. The Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 is driven by the Caliber 80, which offers a power reserve of up to 80 hours. It’s the same base unit seen in the Tissot Powermatic. For dive fans, there’s a starfish engraved on the caseback, next to the timepiece number. Each model comes with three interchangeable strap options to vary the mood.
A nod to the ‘diving’ spirit of the 1960s
To help calculations before a dive, the `61 Ocean Star Skin Diver Watch indicated decompression times 6 metres below the surface. These times were displayed around contrasting coloured circles for enhanced legibility: yellow for a diving depth of 25 to 29 metres, green for 30 to 34 metres, pink for 35 to 39 metres and blue for 40 to 44 metres. By simply placing the minute hand at 12 o’clock before immersion, the wearer could read the information throughout the dive. The rotating bezel allowed diving time or decompression stops to be calculated.
The new Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 pays tribute to the model created by Mido in 1961 and its innovative decompression scale function. Against the black background of the dial, Mido reproduces the bright colours of the original table – a subtle nod to the aesthetics of its predecessor. The depths are indicated at 12 o’clock: in metres (left) and feet (right). Super-LumiNova® adorns the diamond-cut hour and minute hands, as well as the polished indexes, for perfect visibility underwater. The Mido logo from the 1960s also features on the black dial, and as an engraving on the case back, crown and strap clasps.
‘Glassbox’ and stainless steel
A modern version of the ‘glassbox’-style crystal from the 1950s-60s (less prone to scratches than the original) reinforces the vintage feel of the Ocean Star. For added radiance, Mido has polished the case. At 12 o’clock, a large Super-LumiNova® dot provides a point of reference on the fluted black aluminium unidirectional rotating bezel. The screwed crown and case back further enhance the durability of the watch, which is water-resistant up to 200 metres.
Presented in a special box with a limited edition certificate, each of the 1,961 timepieces comes with a choice of two leather straps and a metal bracelet: in black calfskin with four stitches in the colours of the table, in leather with a black synthetic coating and yellow stitching, and in braided polished steel. A user-friendly system facilitates quick strap changes.
At £940 the Mido isn’t expensive for a Swiss watch, but it is pricey for something with a Powermatic movement, depsite its extra bells and whistles. If you love the retro looks, this could be the entry level dive watch for you. But for our money, an indie brand like Baltic, An Ordain, Zelos or many more offers a better spec for a grand – or quite a bit less in some cases.
Can there ever be a truly eco-friendly wristwatch? Well Luminox thinks so, and has teamed up with legendary adventurer Bear Grylls. The watch has the inscription Never Give Up on the dial, and the case, and strap, are both made from recycled material. It also provides revenue for people in Thailand so that they can help clear the seas of plastic, even if it’s only a little bit at a time.
For the tide x Bear Grylls timepiece, Luminox used 100% recycled material to produce the case, bezel, and strap. This 45 mm watch features a sapphire crystal, a uni-directional diving bezel, our Luminox Light Technology at key spots on the dial and bezel as well as special logos engraved to the case back.
Rugged and good looking, this limited edition fits the Bear Grylls collection, and mission, perfectly.
About #tide ocean material®: it is made from 100% ocean-bound plastic, developed in partnership with Swiss scientists. On five islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand, local fishermen are being trained and paid to gather and sort plastic waste. This material is registered, washed, shredded and turned into a granular material that can be injected or spun into a yarn. A portion of the retail price from each sale will be donated directly to Project Aware (projectaware.org), which works with scuba divers around the globe to protect underwater environments.
Did you know a single plastic bottle lasts 450 years in the ocean? Well several watch brands are doing all they can to recycle, re-use plastic and other discarded products and so produce greener watches. We take a look at the work that is going on.
Nautica has developed pioneering textiles that seek to minimize environmental impact. Using their revolutionary fabric REVIVE 1, made by 30 common plastic bottles per linear metre, Nautica hope that consumers will support this recycling idea and buy a watch with a greener strap, rather than conventional leather or steel. More info here.
The Panerai Mike Horn edition uses recycled products in the strap and the case is made from recycled titanium too. The Panerai factory in Switzerland is also carbon dioxide neutral by the way.
Choose Solar – not battery power
If you like modern watches then the short answer to the question about consuming resources is simple; choose a solar powered watch rather than a lithium battery watch. Lithium is generally extracted in poorer countries, via extraction from salt flats. It’s a very wasteful method, using billions of gallons of water and then the lithium has to be transported to the battery factory of course – that may be a long way from Brazil, Tibet, Bolivia or Argentina.
So if you buy a solar watch the battery cell usually lasts about 10-12 years instead, with the daylight providing the recharging power on a daily basis. Big names in solar watches include Seiko, Citizen, Junghans, Tissot and Casio.
Going solar doesn’t sound like a big step forward from regular quartz watches, but is arguably the biggest single environmental change that the global watch industry could make.
More Trees, Cleaner Oceans – It’s All Good
Woodwatch in the UK have been pioneers in wooden watch cases and straps. When you buy a Woodwatch the company plants a tree, so replacing the wood that’s being used – and then some. It’s win-win baby. More here.
Mondaine are now using solar panels on the factory roof, which they say produces 80% of the power needed to produce their famous Swiss Railway themed designs. In addition the 2020 Mondaine watch range features straps made from recycled plastics.
Swiss giant Richemont Group introduced a Green Handbook last year, which looks at every detail in the watch production and distribution chain. All the Richemont brands will use around 30% less packaging materials from 2020 onwards by the way. Chopard are another brand looking carefully at where raw materials come from and announced last year that they are only using gold produced under ethical conditions.
Blancpain, Omega and Oris are all famous for making dive watches and so all three brands are heavily involved in various marine clean-up, conservation and restoration of marine habitat projects around the globe. Oris have some interesting data on their support for Pacific Garbage Screening here by the way, well worth reading.
It’s a beautiful world out there – let’s help preserve it.