The Swiss have long had a reputation for being discreet when it comes to business. (Think banks). And their watch industry is no different.
But growing pressure for environmental and ethical accountability — from activists, investors and consumers — has convinced a few brands that it is time to reveal where they obtain some of their raw materials.
They are fighting the industry’s deep-rooted tradition of discretion, a practice born of watchmakers’ fear that identifying suppliers will reveal details of their expertise and give rivals an advantage.
Many, however, are secretive for a very different reason: They are reluctant to admit their “Swiss Made” watches contain numerous components manufactured in China. These aren’t legal concerns: Swiss law dictates that at least 60 percent of the manufacturing costs of a product must be incurred in the country for it to qualify for the label.
the pandemic and digital growth, a new generation of chief executives, public pressure — to rethink long-established notions about the way they do business, including the value of collaborating with other watchmakers.
where brands get their gold and how they produce their timepieces, more available. Some watchmakers are even going out of their way to share it.
During the virtual Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva that began April 7, for example, Panerai introduced the Submersible eLAB-ID, a 44-millimeter wristwatch built almost entirely from reused raw materials, including recycled Super-LumiNova on its hands, recycled silicon in its movement escapement and a recycled titanium alloy known as EcoTitanium on its case, sandwich dial and bridges.
In a news release, the brand named the nine companies that worked on the timepiece, which will remain a one-of-a-kind concept watch until 2022, when Panerai plans to release a limited edition of 30 pieces, each tentatively priced at around 60,000 euros ($70,530). “We would love to be copied and improved upon,” Jean-Marc Pontroué, Panerai’s chief executive, said during a video interview last month.