Green Glossary

The finest luxury watch brands helping to save the oceans

These elegant timepieces are helping turn the tide on ocean pollution

It is no secret that our oceans are in danger: every day, around eight million pieces of plastic make their way into our seas, causing devastating harm to marine life across the planet. The time has come to act, and now some of the world’s leading watchmakers have stepped up to raise awareness and spearhead initiatives dedicated to reducing global marine-pollution. From sponsoring scientific expeditions to creating ecologically important, marine-protected areas, luxury watch brands are increasingly committed to ocean preservation. Here, we’ve rounded up the best luxury watches helping to save the oceans. 

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A blue shark in the waters off of the Princess Alice Bank, a seamount southwest of Faial Island in the Azores Archipelago. The archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was recently named a 'Hope Spot'.

From diving watches tested at unimaginable depths to the 19th-century marine chronometers that helped map the world’s seas, links between the ocean and horology run deep. With marine-pollution data making ever-uncomfortable reading – according to the UN, an estimated five to 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean every year, with 800 marine and coastal species affected – it’s no surprise that marine conservation is close to many watchmakers’ hearts. 

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Sylvia Earle, Rolex Testimonee and founder of Mission Blue, during a visit in 2017 to a Hope Spot at Cabo Pulmo, Los Cabos, Mexico.

Leading the charge is Rolex. As one of the world’s most recognised brands, the Swiss watchmaker has a unique platform to raise awareness around protecting our seas. Among its environmental initiatives is Mission Blue, founded in 2009 by Sylvia Earle, the legendary oceanographer and marine explorer, whose connection to Rolex goes back to 1970 (she’s often seen diving in her Lady-Datejust or Sea-Dweller). 

Deepsea Sea-Dweller
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Mission Blue is a grassroots-led organisation that works with people on the ground – from local governments to community organisations – to create a global network of ecologically important, marine-protected areas called Hope Spots. Working with some 70 countries and having established more than 130 Hope Spots to date, Mission Blue is moving towards its goal to help protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030, which is the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) recommended target for safeguarding ocean health. 

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Leading oceanographer and Rolex Testimonee Sylvia Earle.

Other watch brands support marine conservation in their own individual ways. There are the smaller independents like Swiss house Oris, which sponsors ocean and river clean-up days, or the Stockholm-based TRIWA, an upstart that’s an acronym for Transforming the Industry of Watches, which has designed the first ever collection of watches made completely from recycled ocean plastic. Meanwhile, the grand maisons have also established bold initiatives, such as Blancpain, which has partnered with the UN in supporting World Ocean Day. After all, it’s time to make a change.

Carl F Bucherer
Patravi ScubaTec Maldives
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Since 2013, Carl F Bucherer has partnered with the Manta Trust, a non-profit dedicated to protecting manta rays and their habitat. Proceeds of sales for this eye-catching Patravi ScubaTec Maldives watch – in steel with a recycled PET textile strap – go directly to funding the organisation’s new floating research station in the Maldives. But that’s just one element: in November, the Manta Trust concluded a 17-night expedition in the archipelago, entirely funded by Bucherer, which achieved some 200 manta ray sightings and 35 new manta IDs.

Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown
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Breitling’s Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown nods to the Swiss house’s original diving watch from 1957 – note the cool, retro styling – while partnering with Outerknown, the sustainable fashion brand of the American surfing champion Kelly Slater, who founded his company with the aim to “make great clothes with a radical commitment to sustainability”. Available in stainless steel, the watch’s strap is made from ECONYL yarn that’s been repurposed from fishing nets and other nylon waste from the ocean.

Seamaster Diver 300M Nekton Edition
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Omega has some serious ocean-faring credibility: the Swiss house created the first commercially available diving watches and also notably had a starring role in the historic Five Deeps Expedition, the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans. No wonder that the UK charity Nekton wanted to work with the storied watchmaker. The pair have created this steel edition with cool nautical nods: rotating bezel in grade-5 titanium, black ceramic dial with a wave motif and full chronometer certification.

Submersible eLAB-ID
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Panerai is synonymous with the Italian Royal Navy, who have been putting Panerai watches through their paces since the dawn of WWII. Today, the watchmaker is paying homage to that rich nautical history by focusing on sustainability, and this year made a real splash with its ground-breaking Submersible eLAB-ID. Everything about this diver screams eco: the EcoTitanium case and dial, an escapement made from 100 percent recycled silicon, while the white-gold hands, Super-Luminova and PET strap are all recycled, too.

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