In Cachet’s 2021 feature story, we take a look at luxury watch brands and their CSR initiatives in driving change towards sustainability, conservation, and humanitarian efforts to make the world a better place.
Rolex: The Perpetual Planet Initiative
Rolex’s Perpetual Planet Initiative launched in 2019. The effort supports individuals and organisations using science to understand global environmental challenges and plan viable solutions to restore balance to our ecosystems. Currently, the initiative embraces Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue Initiative, founded in 2009 to preserve the oceans through a network of marine-protected Hope Spots.
These are areas designated as vital to the preservation of species. The sites may be significant for their biodiversity, home to rare or endangered species, or be sites where local communities rely on a healthy marine environment for their livelihoods.
With the support of Rolex since 2014, the number of Hope Spots has increased from 50 to over 130. Earle contributes to a global effort aiming to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Presently, only 8% of our oceans are conserved. Since 2017, Rolex has also enhanced its long-standing partnership with the National Geographic Society to promote exploration and conservation. The two organisations unite in engaging in a series of expeditions focused on answering crucial questions about the impacts of climate change on critical environments.
In early 2021, a National Geographic team of explorers and scientists installed a weather station just below the summit of Tupungato Volcano in the Southern Andes. The highest weather station in the Southern and Western hemispheres, scientists now have a window to observe atmospheric processes in the Chilean Andes. One of the most globally vulnerable water sources, these mountains provide critical freshwater to more than 6 million inhabitants in nearby Santiago.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise is another effort beneath the Perpetual Planet initiative’s umbrella. First set up in 1976 to mark the 50th anniversary of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, the programme supports exceptional individuals making the world a better place.
To date, 150 Laureates have seen their labour come to fruition. Their efforts benefit an estimated 5 million people globally, with 48 innovative technologies developed for numerous applications. Thanks to them, over 18 million trees grow today. Additionally, 34 endangered species and 26 vital ecosystems, including a large expanse of the Amazon rainforest, are now protected.
The vision and values of Hans Wilsdorf endure as the company turns its passion of exploration for pure discovery into a passion for preserving the natural world. Rolex’s commitment to supporting explorers on this mission is a noble quest with no end in sight, enabling change for a better tomorrow.
Cartier: Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women’s Initiative (CWI) is an annual international entrepreneurship programme that aims to effect change by empowering women impact entrepreneurs. The initiative equips these entrepreneurs with the financial, social, and human capital required to build their leadership skills and grow their businesses.
Since its inception in 2006, the programme has embraced women-owned businesses internationally for as long as they aim to have a significant and sustainable social or environmental impact. Cartier has received over 20,000 applications in the last 15 years. The international luxury maison has supported promising female entrepreneurs from 56 nations, awarding over 3 million USD to support their efforts.
Each year, the Regional Awards recognises women from every corner of the globe, including Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle and North Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Oceania. In less than a decade, the Cartier Awards has grown from attracting 360 to 1200 applications per year.
From 2021, the Cartier Women’s Initiative also introduces the Science & Technology Pioneer Award, gearing up for more world-changing efforts. In addition to the seven existing regional awards, three more women at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation will have the opportunity to gain funds and recognition for this new thematic award. Open to all women entrepreneurs, this award gears to highlight disruptive solutions centred around unique, protected, or hard-to-reproduce technological or scientific advances.
This year, eight women entrepreneurs earned support for launching start-up businesses that drive change and growth within their communities and beyond. An independent international jury committee chose the laureates from 876 applicants from over 142 countries. Each of the eight laureates received USD 100,000 in funds. An additional 16 finalists, second and third runner-up for each region, receive USD 30,000 for their efforts.
The laureates from this year include Rebecca Hui (USA), Oriana Bretschger (USA), Valentina Rogacheva (Mexico), Corina Huang (Taiwan, China), Rebecca Percasky (New Zealand), Andrea Barber (Spain), Basima Abdulrahman (Iraq) and Seynabou Dieng (Mali). Oriana Bretschger, founder and CEO of Aquacycl, received the Science & Technology Pioneer Award. Her patented BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology (BETT) uses natural bacteria to expedite wastewater treatment rates. It eliminates primary sludge, producing electricity, and making new molecular water.
Chopard: Eagle Wings Foundation
Since 2013, Chopard has been on a Journey to Sustainable Luxury thanks to the initiative launched by co-president and artistic director of Chopard, Caroline Scheufele. This desire to protect the natural world extends from its stunning jewellery to its horological masterpieces, as demonstrated by the Alpine Eagle sports chic timepiece collection.
Designed by co-president of Chopard, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, he is committed to the conservation and protection of the Alpine environment, especially of the eagles that reign supreme there. The majestic wildlife and Alpine terrain surrounding the Manufacture have also played a hugely critical role in the inspiration and development of many of the maison’s inspired creations.
To that end, Chopard has launched the Eagle Wings Foundation, of which Karl-Friedrich Scheufele is a founding member. In partnering with the Eagle Wings Foundation, Chopard hopes to promote a more sustainable way of life while raising awareness of Mother Nature’s timely needs. Chopard has pledged to work with the foundation to re-introduce the Golden Eagle to its natural Alpine habitat.
Championing sustainability, Chopard has invested four years of research and development, creating an ultra-resistant metal dubbed Lucent Steel A223 that forms the Alpine Eagle. As precious and complex as gold, the repurposed steel derives from a re-smelting process that creates a material comparable to hypoallergenic surgical steel. It is 50% more resistant to abrasions than conventional steel and able to reflect light uniquely.
The Alpine Eagle caters to contemporary eagles, aspiring men who go above and beyond with foresight and determination. The collection gears to those who act on the challenges of tomorrow, aware of the importance of environmental issues.
Omega: Trésor Orbis
Since 2011, Omega has been a proud and avid supporter of the non-governmental organisation Orbis International and its Flying Eye Hospital. Orbis was founded in 1982 to fight against visual impairment and avoidable blindness with programmes aiding the prevention and treatment of eye diseases.
Orbis is on a mission to ensure everyone has access to quality eye care, no matter where they live. With Omega’s support, the non-profit conducts surgery, distributes vital antibiotics to treat and prevent severe eye conditions. Orbis also disseminates crucial eye health information through radio broadcasts, film screenings and educational materials.
Orbis trains workers at all levels of the health system, including healthcare workers, leaders and governments, to improve the long-term quality of patient care. The NGO leads the charge in establishing a permanent or long-term presence, enhancing the capacity of health systems in vulnerable regions. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, more than 29,000 training courses were completed by volunteer ophthalmologists, anaesthesiologists, nurses, and biomedical engineers throughout 2020 alone, to train eye teams in communities around the world.
To generate funds for the NGO’s efforts in developing countries, Omega frequently unveils limited edition watches. At the end of 2020, Omega unveiled a playful duo of De Ville Trésor timepieces geared to collectors who wish to support this great cause. Omega donates a portion of the proceeds from each of these meaningful timepieces to Orbis’ life-changing efforts.
The pair flaunts the same sunray-brushed blue dial with a gradient effect while the hour and minute hands hover over 18k white gold indexes. At 6 o’clock, the date window replaces the number 8 with a Teddy Bear as a tribute to the cuddly toys that Omega gives to every young patient undergoing Orbis treatment.
The two timepieces differ by their bezel. The first is polished stainless steel, while the second shines with its diamond-paved setting. The Omega Master Co-Axial Chronometer Calibre 8511 powers both timepieces, which nestles in a 40 mm-diameter steel case and arrives in a special presentation box with a Teddy Bear key holder.
The Audemars Piguet Foundation
Since 1992, The Audemars Piguet Foundation has contributed to global efforts to conserve forests through environmental protection and youth awareness-raising measures. Mrs Jasmine Audemars, daughter of Jacques-Louis Audemars, who first founded the association, is the current chair of the Board of the Audemars Piguet Foundation. The institution benefits from the scientific cooperation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organisation comprising almost 1,000 governmental and non-governmental members, all responsible for conservation issues.
The Foundation provides aid to projects coordinated by non-profit associations and non-governmental organisations on a global scale. The support helps communities to protect a lifestyle and culture that respect the environment. To date, the Audemars Piguet Foundation has supported over 30 campaigns and initiatives around the world. These projects range from protecting biodiversity in Madagascar to aiding family farming in Brazil. Other efforts include protecting Dayak farming practices in Borneo, reconstituting forests in Senegal, protecting ancient skills in Colombia, and so much more.
In El Salvador, the Audemars Piguet Foundation supported a global programme initiated by One Drop, launched by Guy Laliberté, Cirque du Soleil founder. The Audemars Piguet Foundation planted twelve thousand trees to slow down the erosion that is causing water sources to run dry and supplying families with fresh produce.
The Foundation’s approach hopes to set in motion a virtuous circle of sustainable development through projects led in collaboration with the people they affect. In raising awareness among young people, upholding past knowledge, and fostering skill development, communities may build a sustainable future.
Tom Ford: Plastic Innovation Prize
In 2020, Tom Ford released the world’s first luxury timepiece made from 100% ocean plastic: Tom Ford 002 Ocean Plastic Watch.
The stylish Tom Ford 002 Ocean Plastic timepiece features a case made entirely from plastic with a stainless-steel case-back plated in black DLC for a smooth finish. The stainless-steel crown plates with black DLC with ocean plastic inlay. The matte black dial features Super-LumiNova numerals with painted hands that glow in the dark. The 40mm quartz movement watch has a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and is water-resistant up to 100m. The signature Tom Ford braid strap is hand braided out of recycled plastic with a stainless-steel buckle plated in black DLC.
In addition to the historic launch, Tom Ford created an innovation prize in partnership with 52HZ, an advisory launched by Lonely Whale, to reassert their commitment to ocean health. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize aims to drive the creation of a suitable replacement for thin-film plastic and to urge the globe to act against plastic pollution in our seas.
The winning innovator will receive USD 1.2 million in exchange for developing a viable replacement for thin-film plastic, often seen in polybags favoured by the fashion industry to single-use, resealable sandwich and storage bags. With submissions accepted from January 2021, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is a two-year competition. Three years of support for competition finalists will follow, designed to encourage the development and adoption of these alternatives to thin-film plastic. The winning submission will be thoroughly vetted and stress-tested to ensure a positive environmental impact and market readiness by 2025.
Every year, an estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic waste pollute our oceans, destroying habitats and endangering marine life. Plastic films make up 5 million metric tonnes of ocean leakage or 46% of all ocean plastic leakage. Estimations indicate that there are 14 million metric tons of plastic on the ocean floor today that will be nearly impossible to remove.
The purchase of a Tom Ford Ocean Plastic Timepiece contributes to permanently removing an equivalent of 35 plastic bottles from the ocean, delivered in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging. Additionally, transportation of the ocean plastic materials is carbon neutral, and its Switzerland-based compounding is solar powered. The ocean plastic used is sourced from uncontrolled landfills, oceans, and coastlines. For every thousand Ocean Plastic Timepieces produced and sold, over 222kg of plastic waste disappears for good.
Breitling: Superocean Heritage
Since March 2018, Breitling has partnered with Ocean Conservancy, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to leading the charge for a healthy ocean and clean beaches. Ocean Conservancy has organised tens of thousands of coastal clean-up operations across 153 countries over the last three decades.
These efforts have attracted the support of hundreds of thousands of volunteers. They have also significantly aided in increasing public awareness of the pollution of our oceans and beaches. Since 1986, more than 12 million people have removed 230 million pounds of trash from coastlines as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.
Breitling plays an active role in some of Ocean Conservancy’s initiatives by participating in clean-up programmes to maintain trash-free seas and restore balance to ocean health. The watchmaker and Ocean Conservancy hope individuals feel empowered to play a part in making a difference.
In May 2019, Breitling introduced the Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronograph 44 Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition to commemorate its crucial partnership with Ocean Conservancy. The launch, held in Bali, was a part of a massive beach clean-up initiative. A hundred Breitling guests joined hundreds of volunteers from Bali and the surrounding regions to dispose of hundreds of kilograms of garbage and plastic from the beach. Breitling’s Surfers Squad were on hand to support the effort, including American pro surfer Kelly Slater and Australians Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore.
Breitling has also partnered with sustainable apparel manufacturer Outerknown, co-founded by 11 times world champion Kelly Slater. As a result, the brand has created a series of new Superocean Automatic watches. The striking Superocean Heritage Chronograph 44 timepiece celebrates this meaningful collaboration. The Nato strap comprises ECONYL yarn, an innovative material woven from nylon waste sourced from fishing nets recovered from oceans. With a black DLC-coated stainless-steel case, calming blue dial and strap, the watch makes a stylish statement about saving our heritage by protecting our oceans.
Oris: Change for the Better Initiative
Oris has been a leader in environmental conservation for the last decade. The brand raises awareness to causes worthy of widespread support by releasing limited-edition watches that spotlight preservation efforts worth championing. Ocean conservation is a sentimental cause to Oris as a brand recognised for their dive watches.
The Oris Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition was the first watch in the ever-evolving Change for the Better series. It was a dive watch on the Aquis platform made to benefit the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). The organisation protects ocean wildlife off the coast of Australia, including the massive ecosystem supported by the Great Barrier Reef. AMCS is an independent charity that has protected Australia’s wildlife for over 50 years and has since partnered with Oris on other watches.
Oris has also partnered with the Coral Restoration Foundation since 2017. In 2020, Oris teamed up with the Coral Restoration Foundation to produce two watches to raise awareness for the restoration of Carysfort Reef, situated in the Florida Keys. The Foundation is working to reverse the damage done to the Florida reef tract. The Carysfort Reef Limited Edition is a GMT diver with a date complication. Instead of large numerals or an oversized GMT hand potentially obscuring time telling, Oris designed the watch with an alternate time zone on an inner 24-hour track for quick reading. Armed with a brilliant blue dial and offset with subtle orange accents, the timepiece echoes the beauty of the deep blue sea with thriving coral reefs. The second watch is a solid gold version of the first, which gives the Aquis an undeniably luxurious feel.
Scientists estimate that we have lost 50 per cent of the world’s coral reefs to coral bleaching and human causes over the last 30 years. Without direct intervention, coral reefs could become extinct within the next 80 years.
Despite the damage, there is hope. With Oris’s support, the Coral Restoration Foundation planted more than 35,000 corals on Carysfort Reef in 2020, just one of many sites the Foundation is working to restore. CRF has renewed more than 8,000 square metres of coral beds in the Florida Keys and restoring more than 120,000 corals to this ecosystem.
(Main and featured image: Rolex)
This feature story appears in Prestige Malaysia‘s 2021 annual watch supplement, Cachet.