As world leaders debate climate change at COP26, the world of fine watchmaking is eagerly listening. Individually, watches are about as durable a product as you are likely to buy, given that they have an expected lifespan measured in decades at least. But that doesn’t mean the industry gets a free pass. Does he – and should he – have a bad conscience? The volume of gold and other precious metals, the precious stones used, the packaging, storage and distribution networks all come at a cost. Watch brands are keenly aware that commitments to marine life and recovering plastic from the oceans matter little if watchmakers can show that they are slacking off when it comes to their own businesses.
Simply put, if your business performs poorly on rating reports, you risk losing access to brand ambassadors, turning off shareholders, and taking away some of your brand value. And in the luxury world, brand value is paramount.
WWF Switzerland Environmental rating and sector report 2018, who called for more transparency and accountability in the watch and jewelry industry, was perhaps excessively cranky towards the industry. Of the 15 brands examined, only IWC exceeded the midpoint of the six-level rating system used. But this highlights the complexities involved. There is a long list of variables to consider: raw materials, supply chains, working conditions, manufacturing techniques and energy consumption.