Through its Perpetual Planet initiative, Rolex is lending its support to the effort to preserve ocean ecosystems for posterity.
Rolex is famed for producing some of the finest and most coveted timepieces in the world, but for at least 100 years the Swiss company has also ventured beyond watchmaking by supporting numerous fields of human endeavour and achievement, from the arts and sport to scientific research, exploration and the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. Indeed, for the brand’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, our planet was “a living laboratory” whose extraordinary range of environments – from Arctic cold to Saharan heat, and the highest Himalayan peaks to the furthest depths of the ocean – offered an infinite variety of proving grounds for Rolex watches.
Given such a perspective, and the growth in awareness of ecological issues in the latter part of the last century, it was a relatively small step for Rolex to become involved in the pressing need to preserve the natural world for posterity. After all, the second word in the name of the brand’s most famous watch, the Oyster Perpetual, emphasises that the pursuit of any lofty objective – whether it’s creating exceptional watches or ensuring the sustainable survival of this planet – is an ongoing process.
Thus was born Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative, which advances Wildorf’s legacy by joining forces with several key organisations and individuals to address the growing range of environmental concerns and challenges. Through the initiative, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise has teamed up with National Geographic – which has worked closely with the brand since 1954 – and the ocean-protection organisation Mission Blue which was founded by renowned marine explorer Dr Sylvia Earle in 2009.
A partner of Rolex since 2014, Mission Blue’s primary goal is to help protect 30 percent of Earth’s oceans by 2030 and ensure their ecosystems remain intact for future generations, partially through the creation of a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) known as Hope Spots. Earle has been involved with Rolex since 1970, when she lived for two weeks in an underwater laboratory as part of a US Government research project; she also set an untethered diving world record in 1979 when she reached a depth of 381 metres in a pressure-resistant suit.
Currently there are 132 recognised Hope Spots around the world, of which 21 were created in 2019 alone, and Mission Blue is working with communities in 69 countries on ocean protection and restoration projects. The organisation has also undertaken 30 expeditions in the past 11 years, joining local partners to gather data and create visual content that highlights important undersea discoveries and challenges, which is posted on its various media platforms. Among them were three 2019 expeditions to the Gulf of California, Colombia’s Malpelo Island and the Galapagos Islands, which involved underwater observation and filming, and meeting members of the island communities and governments.
Mexico’s Gulf of California is the location of one of the first Hope Spots, set up in 2009, where once-depleted shark numbers have seen a 400 percent improvement since the area was closed to fishing in 1995. It’s now home to a programme in which local fisherfolk and conservation groups work together to ensure that fish stocks are being rebuilt. The Galapagos, meanwhile, forms part of the world’s first bilateral Hope Spot, with Mission Blue currently involved with the governments of Ecuador and Costa Rica in the creation of the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway, a protected zone through which marine life can safely swim between two biodiversity-rich Eastern Pacific MPAs.
Among the endangered species that are expected to use the swimway are whale sharks, leatherback sea turtles, silky sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks. Rolex’s partnership with Mission Blue is just one of the ways in which the watch manufacture is helping to protect the ocean, as well as to ensure a more sustainable environmental future, through the Perpetual Planet initiative. Just like its celebrated Oyster Perpetual watches, which are designed and engineered for ultimate accuracy, day after day and year after year, it’s a commitment and responsibility that, like time itself,
(Hero Image: One of the first Hope Spots in the Gulf of California; @ROLEX / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC /GETTY IMAGES)