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Thread: Is our hobby terrible for the environment?

  1. #1

    Is our hobby terrible for the environment?

    Generally speaking I like to think I don't do too much harm to the environment with my lifestyle.

    Recently I've been analysing this - no doubt fuelled by the birth of my first child and thinking about her future - and started thinking about watches.

    Panerai's newest ( https://forums.timezone.com/index.ph...=0#msg_7692557 ) makes a big thing about being better for the environment than any other they've produced. Breitling also recently changed their packaging to try and be more sustainable.

    So my question is how much damage do these luxury products do to the world? Is their production a disaster? Has there ever been any research on this? Has anyone ever investigated it? I can't find any articles about it really and would be keen to know more.

    Any info anyone?

  2. #2
    Master
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    Out of interest, would it make any difference?
    All goods have a carbon footprint, whether shipping bananas from South America or driving milk from the local dairy.
    Luxury goods are, by definition, not essential. If it makes you feel good then I guess you could cut all none essentials out of your life and ease your conscience some. Will it stop them being made and shipped across the world? Nope.

    I can't imagine a study on the environmental factors of watch production has ever been carried out... Life is simply too short.

    Good points on the Breitling packaging I guess (Gucci offer an alternative, too) but I suspect that's just because plastic waste is the hot topic at the moment, they are just offering a biodegradable option.

  3. #3
    Grand Master
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    Rather than considering the carbon footprint of watches, cast a thought to the carbon footprint of your firstborn! The amount of toys and stuff bought for kids, predominantly made from plastic and shipped from China, is mind- boggling. All these items will be manufactured from plastics in China, shipped to the UK, have a short useful life, then end up in land- fill.

    Think about it, your kid (or rather the plastic crap that you and everyone buys for it) will do more environmental harm than any watch you might care to own.
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 8th April 2021 at 00:52.

  4. #4
    Master
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    You want to do the planet a favour - buy secondhand. With watches, that couldn't be easier.

  5. #5
    Master endo's Avatar
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    I think keeping up with latest tech the past decade has probably caused more environmental damage than the entire history of watchmaking.

    Plus at the rate folk flip on here, a whole lot of recycling is going on.

  6. #6
    Master bedlam's Avatar
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    An affluent lifestyle is bad for the environment. Watches may be a component of that for some but its far from being the biggest issue.

  7. #7
    Craftsman
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    At least omega doesn't seem to think microplastics are an issue:
    https://omegaforums.net/threads/omeg...-i-know.92402/

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    Rather than considering the carbon footprint of watches, cast a thought to the carbon footprint of your firstborn! The amount of toys and stuff bought for kids, predominantly made from plastic and shipped from China, is mind- boggling. All these items will be manufactured from plastics in China, shipped to the UK, have a short useful life, then end up in land- fill.

    Think about it, your kid (or rather the plastic crap that you and everyone buys for it) will do more environmental harm than any watch you might care to own.
    Sell a child buy a watch?

  9. #9
    Master MartynJC (UK)'s Avatar
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    The advent of barcodes on food had an explosion on plastic wraps - all land fill. Even a bunch of bananas is wrapped in plastic ffs. We are killing the planet - no wonder nature is fighting back against us parasites. “One day Man who thought he had dominion over all the animals and the earth caught a cold and died”.

    Three days without electricity and we would be all back to the dark ages and morality would be gone. Wouldn’t take long.

    I don’t think watches contribute didley squat in the scheme of things. On a personal level - if you are concerned them don’t by luxury goods.

    (sorry guys - woke up with a bad headache today - normal service will be shortly resumed)
    Last edited by MartynJC (UK); 8th April 2021 at 09:27.

  10. #10
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    Rather than considering the carbon footprint of watches, cast a thought to the carbon footprint of your firstborn! The amount of toys and stuff bought for kids, predominantly made from plastic and shipped from China, is mind- boggling. All these items will be manufactured from plastics in China, shipped to the UK, have a short useful life, then end up in land- fill.

    Think about it, your kid (or rather the plastic crap that you and everyone buys for it) will do more environmental harm than any watch you might care to own.
    So true, the amount of absolute crap my two have had in their lives is terrible when you look back. And where is it now? As stated, in landfill somewhere.
    Younger members of our family starting out are going for more wooden, traditional type toys again.

  11. #11
    Master
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    I think you could buy 1000 watches and do less damage to the environment than by just taking one flight abroad.

    The problem with going green is that we ignore driving around in cars and flying aircraft and compensate by buying less plastic. We also think nothing of buying cheap stuff from China where pollution, appalling working conditions and cheap labour are rife. So cheap stores sell clothes are are intended to be worn once and then discarded. Sadly the main buyers of this are young girls who may well continue the habit for years.

    One advantage of lockdown is that you can actually start breathing clean air.

  12. #12
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    I have been investigating IWC watches recently, both new and used. One thing I wish they would change is their use of crocodile/alligator skin for some of their straps. This immediately runs into problems with the CITES convention to protect endangered species, which includes crocodilians. Some crocodiles and alligators are farmed for leather, but trying to prove to customs that the strap on the watch you are importing has a farmed strap, seems next to impossible.

    So watch manufacturers could definitely do more on the ethical provenance of the materials they use. Interestingly IWC have recently introduced a range of textile straps, so they seem to be rethinking this. Unfortunately the textile strap is not an option on the watch I am interested in.

  13. #13
    Craftsman bigmul's Avatar
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    Anyone with a dog is bad for the environment. I think itís reckoned that owning a dog is twice as bad as driving a 4x4, so I wouldnít beat yourself up over a watch (or even a few).

  14. #14
    Master BSB's Avatar
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    So, if I understand all above correctly, as I've had no children and never will do, I can buy more watches....

  15. #15
    Grand Master
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    That dog/suv thing was debunked pretty robustly - https://grist.org/article/dogs-vs-suvs/



    I don't think our hobby is terrible. Generally we buy used which is recycling. And comparative footprints from factory production must put watchmaking pretty far down the list of horrors compared to the likes of Nike/Primark etc.

  16. #16
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    I think life is very difficult. Fraught with danger and illness, and the whole 'we're destroying the planet' schtick is wearing extremely thin.

    There's always something we create to terrify our kids, with the news media, politicians and various arts only too happy to jump on the bandwagon and profit from it.

    Notice how we don't speak about the dangers of nuclear annihilation these days? All the pop stars and whatnot appear to have moved on. The ozone layer we were constantly battered around the head with has apparently been fixed - who knew??

    You've already stated that you've taken steps to reduce any potential harm you are doing to the planet. Leave it there and forget about it. Unless you're prepared to walk around in sack cloth and live in a teepee, you're fighting a losing battle.

    Just for the record: I am not denying climate change nor speculating on the causes of it. You have to choose your battles, and I am simply not up to saving the entire planet.

    I like watches and cars. I don't have children - go me.

  17. #17
    Master
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    I would say watches are good for the environment since the money is not otherwise spent on more holidays and cars

  18. #18
    Master Christian's Avatar
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    I think there are more effective ways to save the environment than worry that watches are bad for it. I understand the theory that every little helps, but unless we are 100% committing to regressing to live in caves and live a totally natural animalistic life as cavemen, it must pale into total insignificance compared to a lot of other things humans do.

  19. #19
    Master Christian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fender View Post
    I don't have children - go me.
    The elephant in the room...probably the main driver behind our problems, over-population.

  20. #20
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    The advent of barcodes on food had an explosion on plastic wraps - all land fill. Even a bunch of bananas is wrapped in plastic ffs. We are killing the planet - no wonder nature is fighting back against us parasites. ďOne day Man who thought he had dominion over all the animals and the earth caught a cold and diedĒ.

    Three days without electricity and we would be all back to the dark ages and morality would be gone. Wouldnít take long.

    I donít think watches contribute didley squat in the scheme of things. On a personal level - if you are concerned them donít by luxury goods.

    (sorry guys - woke up with a bad headache today - normal service will be shortly resumed)
    Martyn you donít want a headache today - you will likely have a self induced one when you wake tomorrow. Do you have your costume sorted for this evening?😀

  21. #21
    Master bigbaddes's Avatar
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    environment aside just not having offspring is its own advantage - noisy smelly expensive things ...

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    The advent of barcodes on food had an explosion on plastic wraps - all land fill. Even a bunch of bananas is wrapped in plastic ffs. We are killing the planet - no wonder nature is fighting back against us parasites. ďOne day Man who thought he had dominion over all the animals and the earth caught a cold and diedĒ.

    Three days without electricity and we would be all back to the dark ages and morality would be gone. Wouldnít take long.

    I donít think watches contribute didley squat in the scheme of things. On a personal level - if you are concerned them donít by luxury goods.

    (sorry guys - woke up with a bad headache today - normal service will be shortly resumed)
    More importantly do you have more honey to sell?

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by BSB View Post
    So, if I understand all above correctly, as I've had no children and never will do, I can buy more watches....
    Yes and several dogs too. If you do decide to have children send them to the mines or digging trenches with spoons. Itís the only way they will learn.

  24. #24
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by ac11111 View Post
    I would say watches are good for the environment since the money is not otherwise spent on more holidays and cars
    good point.

  25. #25
    Master
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    The plain truth is that hardly anything is good for the environment. If nothing else, the factory staff have to travel to work by rail or car.

    About 10 years ago I attended a function and got chatting with a senior buyer for Selfridges. Evidently every supplier of every product has to pass a severe scrutiny test for ethical manufacture. The system is not perfect but it is damn good.

    Therefore I now tend to buy nearly all of my clothing from Selfridges in order to relieve my guilt of buying tat that originates from sweat shops. When you see cheap jeans, shirts and jeans up for sale in the SC, just think where they are coming from.

    However I am a total fool because I have to travel up to London to make this ethical purchase, So I am probably deluding myself that I am doing anything to save the planet.

  26. #26
    Master
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    The big issue is over population.

    If people want to do anything to save the planet then they need to stop breeding; especially children in the developed world who have a huge carbon footprint ... unfortunately the OP has already done the worst thing possible any human can do (for the planet) which is add to the population ...
    Last edited by Montello; 8th April 2021 at 13:36.

  27. #27
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montello View Post
    The big issue is over population.

    If people want to do anything to save the planet then they need to stop breeding; especially children in the developed world who have a huge carbon footprint ... unfortunately the OP has already done the worth thing possible any human can do (for the planet) which is add to the population ...
    On that basis, do the decent thing and terminate your life.

    PS No cremation, think of the smoke.

  28. #28
    Master
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    On the plus side, quality watches are products that last a lifetime, can be repaired and are widely recycled. So from that point of view theyíre a model of the kinds of products we should make. On the minus side we all have boxes full of them.

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by bedlam View Post
    An affluent lifestyle is bad for the environment. Watches may be a component of that for some but its far from being the biggest issue.
    It doesn't need to be if you focus on quality over quantity. Often a quality item is repairable, cheap usually means disposable.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    On that basis, do the decent thing and terminate your life.

    PS No cremation, think of the smoke.
    I think population growth management is a matter of birth control ... euthanasia isn't really an ethical option ... although the Johnson and his friends are giving it a good go ...

  31. #31
    Master Christian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montello View Post
    I think population growth management is a matter of birth control ... euthanasia isn't really an ethical option ... although the Johnson and his friends are giving it a good go ...
    Yes, have more than two and it's exponential growth from generation to generation. Quick google, aparently we are down to 1.7 children per couple in the UK but above 2 on average across the world.
    Last edited by Christian; 8th April 2021 at 14:11.

  32. #32
    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Watches are rare among consumer durables in having VERY long lifetimes (my oldest example is ~100 years old), being very repairable, and have extremely low energy consumption by their very nature (most of ours on here are us-powered!), and aside from quartz, require next to no consumables. So as a Thing, they are pretty green.

    Production of watches - who knows? There's a bit of "greenwash" creeping-in, for sure - re-use is always better than recycling, when possible. Manufacture-wise, Switzerland and Germany have very strict environmental protection laws, and if Switzerland's anything like Germany, both are way ahead of us in renewable energy use; China, the exact opposite is true, and requires much longer supply lines, never mind their appalling attitudes to human-rights &c, so more of a Carbon jackboot-print there, and probably better avoided.

    One very minor area of watch-related consumption that is concerning is the use of shark and ray skins for straps - both groups of long-lived fish are in steep decline in the wild, and are mostly not farm-able, so shark, skate and ray skin straps are mainly coming from a non-sustainable source and really should be avoided if you give a damn about the environment.

    I don't think the same generally applies to most other leathers - even croc and teju are farmed, or if wild-caught, come from accredited culls, TTBOMK. If in doubt - only buy from a responsible maker.

  33. #33
    Grand Master Dave+63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earlofsodbury View Post
    Watches are rare among consumer durables in having VERY long lifetimes (my oldest example is ~100 years old), being very repairable, and have extremely low energy consumption by their very nature (most of ours on here are us-powered!), and aside from quartz, require next to no consumables. So as a Thing, they are pretty green.
    I think Apple have definitely put paid to that argument in recent years!

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by tobywatches View Post
    Generally speaking I like to think I don't do too much harm to the environment with my lifestyle.

    Recently I've been analysing this - no doubt fuelled by the birth of my first child and thinking about her future - and started thinking about watches.
    Hm, interesting one, not sure. But every time I see Greta Thunberg on my television I set fire to a bucket of petrol in the garden, so I may not be the best person to comment.

  35. #35
    Some interesting points raised. My thoughts:

    Quote Originally Posted by kevkojak View Post
    Out of interest, would it make any difference?
    It might. I guess we all make calls based on our conscience. My point really is that I'd like the information before making a call on whether I cut my consumption of watches. In terms of true luxury goods it's the only thing I'm into.

    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    Rather than considering the carbon footprint of watches, cast a thought to the carbon footprint of your firstborn!
    Think about it, your kid (or rather the plastic crap that you and everyone buys for it) will do more environmental harm than any watch you might care to own.
    This is absolutely fair. In fact it was a genuine consideration for me when we started discussing having kids. My partner wants 3. I really don't and a good portion of that is because of the world we live in nowadays and the future of it.
    We're doing our best to negate some of the carbon footprint. We've hardly bought any clothes - almost all hand-me-downs. As yet most of the (relatively few after just 7 weeks) toys we have are 2nd hand. We use biodegradable nappies with biodegradable nappy bags and wipes. We've actually bought a more environmentally friendly (2nd hand) car than we had previously. We'll be moving to a more eco-friendly house. We've bought a 2nd hand dining table and chairs for it which is the only piece of furniture we have bought thus far. I'm not trying to defend myself really, more make the point that you do what you can to make things better.
    People DO have a negative impact on the environment and it's a consideration but just because the baby has a carbon footprint it doesn't mean I can't think about reducing mine further. If I got info about watches' impact maybe there'd be a decision to take about that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by bedlam View Post
    An affluent lifestyle is bad for the environment. Watches may be a component of that for some but its far from being the biggest issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by MartynJC (UK) View Post
    I donít think watches contribute didley squat in the scheme of things. On a personal level - if you are concerned them donít by luxury goods.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    I think you could buy 1000 watches and do less damage to the environment than by just taking one flight abroad.
    The problem with going green is that we ignore driving around in cars and flying aircraft and compensate by buying less plastic.
    Quote Originally Posted by verv View Post
    comparative footprints from factory production must put watchmaking pretty far down the list of horrors compared to the likes of Nike/Primark etc.
    All this is true but I'm not wholly sure these are reasons not to think about watches as well. If, as consumers, we voiced concern about it then maybe watch companies would do more too. Big business, and let's make no mistake some of these watch companies we support are big businesses, has to take a lead on going green.

    Quote Originally Posted by ollipekka View Post
    At least omega doesn't seem to think microplastics are an issue:
    https://omegaforums.net/threads/omeg...-i-know.92402/
    Crikey! That's absolutely woeful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mick P View Post
    On that basis, do the decent thing and terminate your life.
    PS No cremation, think of the smoke.
    Blimey! This got dark. I am aware I've not done the best for the world by having a child. I could have had a great many watches for the carbon footprint she will leave. But I made that call and hope I can mitigate some of it, which is why I started this thread. I'm not only thinking about watches, it's just this is a watch forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by earlofsodbury View Post
    Watches are rare among consumer durables in having VERY long lifetimes (my oldest example is ~100 years old), being very repairable, and have extremely low energy consumption by their very nature (most of ours on here are us-powered!), and aside from quartz, require next to no consumables. So as a Thing, they are pretty green.

    Production of watches - who knows? There's a bit of "greenwash" creeping-in, for sure - re-use is always better than recycling, when possible. Manufacture-wise, Switzerland and Germany have very strict environmental protection laws, and if Switzerland's anything like Germany, both are way ahead of us in renewable energy use; China, the exact opposite is true, and requires much longer supply lines, never mind their appalling attitudes to human-rights &c, so more of a Carbon jackboot-print there, and probably better avoided.
    This is interesting and the first response that really appears to have an element of background knowledge. Perhaps we should all only buy Swiss and German?!

    Quote Originally Posted by ac11111 View Post
    I would say watches are good for the environment since the money is not otherwise spent on more holidays and cars
    Let's end with the positive...there goes the logic of a WIS!

  36. #36
    Grand Master Wallasey Runner's Avatar
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    Our hobby must be good for the Royal Mail and other couriers though. When I think of the number of watches I have taken to the Post Office over the years, the cumulative bill for that lot is easily in four figures now and times that by the number of watches and on here and other places being flipped and moving around. Bad for the environment, but good for business.

  37. #37
    Master earlofsodbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave+63 View Post
    I think Apple have definitely put paid to that argument in recent years!

    Wearable information technology ≠ a real watch
    Last edited by earlofsodbury; 8th April 2021 at 22:57.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallasey Runner View Post
    Our hobby must be good for the Royal Mail and other couriers though. When I think of the number of watches I have taken to the Post Office over the years, the cumulative bill for that lot is easily in four figures now and times that by the number of watches and on here and other places being flipped and moving around. Bad for the environment, but good for business.
    I thank you for funding my Royal Mail Pension. It is much appreciated.

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