Sustainable watches
Stefan Sebök, last updated on 04/11/2024

Sustainability is a topic that concerns us all and shapes our times. Of course, the watch industry is not immune to this. But what makes a watch sustainable? What should environmentally conscious watch fans look out for if they want to make their collection more sustainable? We take a closer look at sustainable watches and provide inspiration for making a purchasing decision that takes the protection of nature and our planet into account.

Sustainability in luxury watches: An industry analysis

The luxury segment of the fashion, jewelry and watch industry is not necessarily known for prioritizing sustainability in the design and production of its expensive products. In recent years, however, a certain "green" trend has become apparent: More and more brands have begun to incorporate the idea of sustainability into their value system and align their products with it, at least in part. At the same time, the number of companies that build their image on the above-average sustainability of the items they offer right from the start is growing. Modern brands, such as Kerbholz or nordgreen Copenhagen, are making environmental friendliness a priority and demonstrating that solid quality and appealing designs can also be implemented sustainably.

Today, there are numerous approaches to the more sustainable production of cases, dials and bracelets. For example, many companies build cases from natural wood, such as walnut, maple, sandalwood and teak, and even take care to source the material from sustainable forestry. Some manufacturers use recycled paper or recycled plastic for various elements of their watch models, while others produce vegan straps and replace leather with plant-based substitute materials, such as apples, cacti or cork.

Despite all these developments, the watch industry has certain limits when it comes to sustainable products, as a watch movement cannot do without rare earths and battery-operated watches always contain environmentally questionable lithium. It is therefore difficult to produce a watch that is sustainable and environmentally friendly through and through. However, this does not mean that efforts to make timepieces more sustainable by using natural materials, for example, are in vain. Because even if perfection cannot be achieved in this respect, every sustainable product makes a statement and contributes to environmental protection.

Why vintage watches are sustainable

In our view, the most sustainable watch is one that is not newly produced. This is because the production of watches from natural materials also requires energy. Accordingly, the most sustainable watch is a used vintage model - our specialty! At HORANDO, the search for high-quality CPO watches from well-known brands has come to an end. With our large selection and variety of pre-owned models, we make it easy for our customers to make a sustainable choice.

Environmental benefits of buying vintage watches

A luxury vintage watch may not be made of wood, but of stainless steel, gold or platinum, may have a classic leather strap instead of a cork strap and therefore probably doesn't look like a particularly environmentally friendly product at first glance - but that's exactly what it is. This is because the production of wooden watches and other sustainable alternatives consumes electricity and water. It should also not be forgotten that even a watch that is made from renewable natural materials on the outside has a movement on the inside. This contains components made from finite resources, the extraction of which is anything but environmentally friendly. Of course, this also applies to the vintage watch, but it was not produced from scratch. The resources used in it do not have to be extracted twice so that the watch can serve a second owner well. This makes the purchase of used watches a responsible, sustainable decision and illustrates why CPO watches are sustainable watches, regardless of collection and design.

Longevity and timeless vintage pieces

The lifespan and useful life of a product also determines its sustainability. Giving a used watch a long life in its "new home" is therefore far more sustainable than buying a new wooden watch every few years. While many other accessories quickly go out of fashion and are hardly worn for more than one season by the trend-conscious buyer, many CPO watches are also timeless classics, so you don't have to buy a new one to keep it "up-to-date".

The advantages of buying pre-owned watches

If you are an environmentally conscious watch lover browsing through the wide range of watches on the market, you will naturally notice watches made of wood and other natural materials and may be primarily interested in items that are explicitly advertised as sustainable. As a result, the obvious option of buying second-hand watches is quickly overlooked. This is a shame, because the advantages of vintage watches are obvious:

Financial and ecological benefits

We have already explained in detail that buying a used watch makes sense from an ecological point of view. But there are also financial benefits. And who doesn't like to save money when buying a watch? Compared to a brand new watch, pre-owned models for men and women are often reasonably priced. The products, which are strictly checked at HORANDO and therefore guaranteed to be genuine and original, are often in impeccable condition, have no significant signs of wear and function perfectly. This results in an excellent price-performance ratio for the buyer. Buying a sustainable watch does not have to be overpriced!

Unique history and charm of pre-owned pieces

A wristwatch that has not come straight from the manufacturer's warehouse but has already been around for a few years often has much more charm than products that have just "rolled off the production line". In the eyes of many a watch collector, it is precisely the tangible history that a CPO model brings with it that makes it so authentic and valuable. This is a fascinating facet of used watches that you probably have to see for yourself to fully understand.

Sustainable watch models

Even though used watches are the most sustainable choice from our perspective, we would like to take a short trip through the wooden watch market and introduce you to one or two wristwatches made from natural wood. Nature-loving men and women who want a watch made of solid wood will find what they are looking for at Holzkern, for example. The manufacturer, which also offers sunglasses and other accessories, includes the "Autumn Twilight" model in a solid wood design made of maple and walnut among its wooden watches for women, but also has sustainable watches with a stone dial in its range. The "Summer Evening" watch, for example, skillfully combines a walnut case with a vividly marbled lapis lazuli dial.

The Kerbholz "CARLA" collection is somewhat less wood-heavy, with only the setting of the dial with date made of wood. The nordgreen "Native" watch does away with wood altogether, but demonstrates that a deceptively genuine leather look is also possible with 100% vegan designs. The black "substitute leather material", for which no animal had to give its life, looks extremely elegant and no less high-quality than comparable bracelets made of conventional leather.

The Laimer brand stands out from the crowd with solar-powered movements, such as those used in the men's and women's "Milo Solar" watches made of walnut wood with date display and chronograph function. The company thus offers customers sustainable approaches that go beyond the material of the case and dial. Another interesting feature of this brand is the selection of straps, which includes versions made of supple cork and robust felt.

Of course, we can only mention a tiny fraction of the products from the "wooden watches and co." category that are available on the market. After all, there are now many products made from alternative, environmentally friendly materials. Women and men who don't want to buy a second-hand watch but still want to make a sustainable choice should therefore have no problem finding something stylish for themselves.

Conclusion: The importance of a sustainable choice

Ultimately, the growing range of watches made from wood and similar ecological materials is a really welcome development in the watch industry. After all, it is essential for the future of our planet that society and industry - and therefore also the watch world - become more environmentally conscious. Nevertheless, our position is clear: when it comes to sustainability, nothing beats a well-preserved second-hand watch. At HORANDO, we have over 4,000 of these in our range at any one time, making our store a promising port of call for all those who are interested in sustainable watches but prefer to wear luxury products from renowned designers and brands. With our large product range full of authentic brand products, we succeed in combining sustainability, quality and pure luxury.

About the author
Stefan Sebök

During my school days I worked in the warehouse of an auction house and that was when I first came into contact with exclusive, mechanical watches. The fascination was born from that moment and has not let go of me to this day. So it was clear to me very early on that I wanted to learn more about the history and price development of watches - and of course I wanted to own an automatic watch at some point. (My absolute dream, unfortunately far away, was a Rolex GMT Master with the blue and red Pepsi bezel). During my studies, I took my first steps in trading used watches via various online marketplaces and was then able to afford a used Breitling Colt.