Image Credit: Mondaine
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A classic timepiece easily completes any outfit and can simplify your life. However, finding a watch that’s responsibly made and designed to last can be more challenging than you might think. With planned obsolescence as prevalent as it is, small items like watch batteries or plated metals can have a major environmental impact over time.
When you’re looking for a great watch for yourself or a gift, it’s best to choose one that will last for decades. Not only will a classic design stay stylish for all of your life, but a sturdy, quality watch can become a treasured family heirloom.
Here’s what we suggest when looking for your next watch:
Solar Power: A solar-powered watch not only keeps batteries out of the landfill, but it also keeps it from dying on you unexpectedly. Solar panels, even on such a small device, can sustain your watch for six months after sitting in the sun for mere hours.
Take-back program: Some brands offer the option to recycle your old watch or return a gently used one in return for a discount on your next purchase. These pieces are typically recycled, repurposed, or refurbished to encourage circularity.
Thoughtful watch band materials: Quality natural materials strike the balance of durability and ethical sourcing. Many brands who focus on vegan alternatives to leather straps use recycled plastic, vegan leather, bamboo, cork, wood, or a mix of all. And of course, there are thoughtfully souced traditional leather bands, which age beautifully over time, and metal link bands.
Transparency: It’s important to know who made your watch and how they were treated. Brands that trace their supply chains and frequently audit their facilities are more likely to maintain fair labor practices such as living wages and safe work conditions. Some have a code of conduct they hold all suppliers and manufacturers to. Look for third-party certifications and affiliated auditing organizations to be sure of true transparency.
Carbon neutral: Some brands offset the carbon emissions from shipping by partnering with organizations that participate in reforestation. A few even have ambitions of becoming “climate positive” by doubling this effort.
Packaging: As with most things, the less plastic, the better. Look for cardboard mailers, recycled paper, and other recyclable materials.
This Montreal-born brand creates minimalist watches powered by solar energy to avoid planned obsolescence. The solar cells within its watches hold a six-month power reserve after sitting in the light (natural or artificial) for just two hours. The Certified B Corp uses certified recycled stainless steel and cork-based vegan leather, as well as handmade packaging from recycled and recyclable paper. Solios also offers a recycling program. If you send your old watches in, you will receive a discount on your next purchase.
Vestiaire Collective is an online second-hand marketplace for luxury fashion items. Its collection of used watches includes brands such as Dior, Versace, Marc Jacobs, and Gucci. It’s a Certified B Corp (the first fashion resale platform to become one) that uses 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. It partners directly with luxury brands to encourage their customers to donate or resell unworn items. The site also offers a care guide to help shoppers maintain the lifespan of their garments.
Mondaine watches are handcrafted in Switzerland at its private carbon-neutral factory. The innovative brand introduced the first solar-powered analog watch in 1973, and later used eco-friendly materials (such as vegan grape leather, recycled pet bottles, and cork) in its 2016 essence collection. The scratch-resistant mineral crystal combined with the brand’s timeless style ensures a Mondaine watch will last for decades. The brand also requires its suppliers to follow an ethical code of conduct to ensure sustainable and ethical processes throughout its supply chain.
2° East is a sustainably-focused company that makes beautiful and fun watches for men, women, and children. It owns its own assembly factory in China and only sources from local suppliers who it has an established relationship with. The brand uses vegetable-tanned Italian full-grain leather, conflict-free rose gold ion plating, and Miyota quartz movements in its watches, as well as recycled and recyclable packaging for all of its products.
Urbankissed offers a plethora of chic vegan watches in several colors and styles. The online marketplace measures all of its brands against its “Slow & Ethical Index,” which includes natural materials, ethical production, and responsible sourcing. The sustainability status of each product is listed clearly in its description for consumer discretion. The collection includes vegan leather watch straps made from cotton-woven fiber with recycled PU. Urbankissed also offsets its shipping emissions by partnering with Tree Nation.
This brand uses recycled natural wood furniture (such as maple and birch) to hand-make its watches. Each vegan watch is unique with a one-of-a-kind grain pattern. They’re lightweight and designed to be easily dressed up or down. The brand also offers natural Apple Watch straps. Its goal is to become climate positive by offsetting twice the shipping emissions by partnering with One Tree Planted and Ecologi, who plant a tree for every order made.
Solgaard Design creates watches with ocean-bound plastic material. Its Shoreline watch collection is minimalist, hexagon, and available in six ocean-inspired colors. They’re shock-resistant and water-resistant up to 165 feet. The strap is made from biodegradable silicone and the face is made of mineral glass. The majority of its supply chain partners use third-party auditors such as ICAS and WRAP. It partners with groups in Indonesia, China, and The Philippines to create plastic clean-up jobs.