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2021 The Year Watchmaking Truly Goes Green

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.
This Earth Day, let's take a look at some of the sustainable watchmaking products that launched in 2021.
Cartier SolarBeat Tank Must
If you really must make a watch with quartz, why not power it with the sun? Cartier's new SolarBeat Tank Must does just that, packing cool green tech into a design that's about as classic as any shaped watch could possibly be.
While mechanical watches are of course inherently green, getting their energy from a turn of the crown or a flick of the wrist, quartz has long relied on disposable batteries to get the job done. With SolarBeat, Cartier delivers the accuracy and value consumers tend to expect from quartz while providing a compelling green approach to the end product. In keeping with the theme of sustainability, the Cartier straps you see here have been manufactured using scraps of apples grown for the food industry.
Panerai Submersible eLAB-ID And Luminor Marina eSteel
Panerai made sustainability its main focus at Watches & Wonders, debuting a 30-piece limited-edition concept watch in the Submersible line with 98.6 percent recycled-based materials. Along with the new Submersible concept, the most recycled timepiece we've seen to date, Panerai also published its list of suppliers and the specific contributions of each company to the final product you see here. This intentional open-sourcing of the product is an invitation for other watchmakers to do likewise and up their sustainability game. The impact of just one model from one – albeit popular and high-profile – luxury watchmaker can only go so far, after all.
On the commercial side of things, Panerai debuted a new alloy, eSteel, that allows it to make recycled-based watches for commercial release. The Luminor Marina eSteel, available this October, may not use 98.6% recycled-based materials by weight (89 grams of its components use recycled-based materials, accounting for 58.4% of the total weight), but it demonstrates that circular manufacturing is viable at a larger scale for luxury watchmakers.
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.
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