In an effort to strengthen its commitment to sustainability, transparency and traceability in the supply chain, Swiss watch brand Breitling unveils the newest Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins watch line that packs a good dose of “Better” into it. By teaming with the Swiss Better Gold Association for properly sourced artisanal gold, and by using lab grown diamonds for the bezels of these watches, Breitling’s newest line is its first-ever traceable watch. Complete certification of the origins of the precious materials used in the timepiece accompanies each watch in the form of a provenance record on the customer’s NFT.
Essentially, artisanal gold comes from mines where the gold is ethically sourced, meaning there is no child labor involved, the material is mined without association with conflict or human rights abuses, and, in most cases, education and assistance is given to the local communities to learn to use their land more fully for agriculture and other needs.
Breitling is creating the Super Chronomat as the first step in its mission to do better when it comes to materials and manufacturing processes. It distinguishes the Super from other Chronomat watches by adding a ceramic crown and rider tabs and with a rubber “rouleaux” strap.
For the Super Chronomat Origins watch, Breitling sources the gold from a mine that meets the stringent criteria of the Swiss Better Gold Association, which is known for improving working and living conditions at the small-scale mining facilities and communities. According to Gerges Kern, CEO of Breitling, by 2025, the goal is to have the entire product line up made from artisanal mined gold from specific ASM mines in Colombia. Additionally, the brand is contributing support to the local communities and development projects.
Breitling is also implementing an end-to-end traceability policy with product origins independently verified. That information is recorded in a blockchain-based NFT that comes with every Super Chronomat Origins watch.
Traceability has been an important issue for watch brands that use diamonds and for jewelry brands. Many brands find it difficult to trace precious materials, especially small “melee” diamonds that are often used on watch dials and bezels since these tiny stones come from a variety of sources and are sometimes all mixed in together—making origin tracing nearly impossible.
For this reason, Breitling has turned to lab-grown diamonds for the Super Chronomat Origins watch. The bezel is set with single-crystal IIa diamonds that are currently the purest lab-grown diamond, created by adding gas and heat to a tiny diamond in a vacuum space where a cloud of plasma develops that allows the diamond to crystalize and grow.
Here again, according to Kern, by 2024, Breitling will fully transition to lab-grown diamonds for all of its pieces using diamonds. This makes the stones traceable and environmentally agreeable. Breitling is making a contribution to a social impact fund with every diamond it purchases to support diamond-producing communities. The diamonds Breitling is using are from Fenix Diamonds in New York that has a production facility in Gujarat, India, where the stones are made. They are accredited under the Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. (SCS Global Services) – SCS-007-1 Sustainability Rated Diamonds Standard for exhibiting the highest grades of ethical and environmental responsibility.
The Breitling Super Chronomat Origins watch is an automatic mechanical piece powered by the COSC-certified chronometer Breitling Caliber 17 that offers 38 hours of power reserve and showcases the hours, minutes, seconds and date. The watch measure 38 mm in diameter and is made in artisan 18-karat 5N rose gold with lab-grown diamonds on the bezel. It is old with a white rubber strap with pin buckle or with a beige alligator strap. It retails for $19,500 on rubber or $19,950 on leather.
“Consumers are increasingly reflecting on the products they buy and what goes into them. We want to give them those answers upfront,” said Kern. “Super Chronomat Origins is one step on a transformative journey at Breitling. This is just the beginning.”
It should be noted that Chopard has been the leader in the field of ethically sourced gold, but other companies and brands are turning in this direction. Breitling is the second big brand to pledge allegiance to ethically sourced gold. Additionally, while TAG Heuer did unveil the Plasma watch earlier this year as a one-of-a-kind piece using lab-grown diamonds, Breitling is the first brand to pledge to use lab-grown diamonds across its entire product line
(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.com.)