Watch straps made from upcycled fabrics are a new offering from Zenith, which worked in partnership with another LVMH enterprise, Nona Source, a start-up platform that buys deadstock from the group’s fashion houses and resells it online.
The collection debuted with seven straps, including a bright pink denim, an ivory curly mohair and a vibrant yellow twill, that the wearer of any watch in Zenith’s Defy Midnight collection can swap with the existing quick-change band. The straps, which have a rubber backing, are available in Europe on Zenith’s website for 410 euros ($465) each; the brand said it planned to expand sales to the United States.
It is one of a number of sustainable initiatives that Zenith has introduced since Julien Tornare became chief executive in 2017. The company is putting sustainable practices into effect at its Le Locle headquarters in Switzerland that include replacing company cars with electric vehicles and adopting a paperless-office policy. It is also sponsoring E Extreme, an international all-electric car racing series that promotes itself as furthering climate awareness and gender equality. And last year, it introduced Zenith Icons, a resale service offering restored vintage Zenith timepieces.
“This is 21st-century watchmaking,” Mr. Tornare said of the initiatives. “It’s our responsibility to make changes.”
The straps also tap into consumers’ growing desire for customization. Mr. Tornare said that when Zenith introduced the Defy Midnight in 2020, it became the first brand to offer a watch with three interchangeable straps included in the purchase.
The new project was the first time that Nona Source, introduced in April 2021, had worked with a watchmaker. “We were excited to work on something new and accelerate circular creativity within the group,” said Romain Brabo, one of its co-founders.
Such efforts also may attract buyers. A 2020 report on the global luxury industry by Bain & Company said that 80 percent of luxury customers preferred brands that are socially responsible, a particularly strong sentiment among those born between 1980 and 1995.
Nathalie Grolimund, a sustainability consultant for the Kaviaar and Ardevie public relations agencies, said projects like upcycled straps were steps in the right direction to a more sustainable watch industry. “The only thing brands must not do is not rest on their laurels but keep driving to achieve more,” she said. “There is a massive issue with waste, and it’s about educating people and being transparent in your communication.”
In Europe, such effort may be accelerating. Karine Szegedi, a partner at Deloitte Switzerland, said that starting in 2023 all companies in the European Union would face stricter requirements for corporate sustainability reporting, something Switzerland is likely to adopt, too. “There’s a big shift now by the watchmaking industry to fully engage with the subject as a result,” she said.