(Portions of this article by Roberta Naas first appeared on Forbes.)
Perhaps more so than ever before, today’s watch brands are environmentally conscious and have been leading the way towards preservation of Earth’s resources for a couple of decades now. Some have even pulled out all the stops in recent years to create timepieces with upcycled or recycled materials, to support causes that save the oceans, forests and endangered animals, and formed foundations that help civilizations around the world. Here, we look at the efforts of just three brands: Oris, Ulysse Nardin and Norqain.
With a self-mandated mission to bring “Change for the Better,” independently owned Oris recently teamed with Everwave, which is developing a prototype floating platform to scoop up waste from the oceans and that has thus far collected more than 258 tons of waste. Also, in mid-2022, Oris teamed with the Billion Oyster Project working to repopulate New York’s Harbors with oysters (one billion by 2035). Oysters generally pick up pollutants in the water and are a good indicator species.
Teaming with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation to protect these species around the world, and also having worked for years with the Coral Restoration Foundation to outplant coral and protect coral reefs are projects that put Oris in the forefront on local levels.
Oris has even conducted beach cleanups around the world, which led to the creation of the Oris Aquis Date Upcycle watch with dial made of recycled PET bottles.
Similarly, Ulysse Nardin is a big supporter of saving the oceans and preserving ocean species. The brand supports shark research and tagging, and even has a few divers (as well as explorers) on its roster of brand ambassadors, that it works with to support their causes. With a long history ingrained in marine and maritime watches, Ulysse Nardin regularly aligns itself with the water. In fact, Ulysse Nardin is one of the first brands to have created an entire watch, not just a dial or a strap, out of recycled fishing nets.
The brand is the Official Timing Partner and Time to Act Partner of The Ocean Race that began in January of this year and that witnesses teams sailing around the world over a six-month period. Time to Act is committed to ocean conservation and is overseeing projects like educating locals about conservation in different cities the sailors land in, and the use of a Science Program wherein race boats and sailors collect critical water and data from remote parts of the ocean. Its role in The Ocean Race complements Ulysse Nardin’s efforts with Ocearch, shark study and more.
Norqain, the relatively young family-owned Swiss brand Norqain supports the preservation of lions, working with wildlife brand ambassador Dean Schneider, founder of Hakuna Mipaka wildlife sanctuary and animal rehabilitation center in South Africa. Schneider left his entrepreneurial finance career in Switzerland in 2017 and established Hakuna Mipaka, translated in Swahili as “No Limits,” to help save the lions. The sanctuary, which is not open to the public, also plays home to leopards, giraffes, zebras and other animals.
Norqain creates special edition timepieces in its Wild One collection to support the sanctuary, with 10 percent of the proceeds of the sale of each watch going to the cause. Additionally, these watches boats animal friendly straps, and Norqain now takes that a step further. All future product launches – not just Wild One watches — will be fitted with animal friendly straps: fabric straps, vegan leather, certified perlon straps, rubber straps with a crocodile texture and metal bracelets.
A host of other brands also do their parts, and we will be covering as much as we can on sustainable activities throughout the year.