Wristwatches have been worn for diving, sailing, and other maritime activities at least since the first waterproof watch case, the Rolex Oyster, made its debut in 1926.
In more recent times, some of the most renowned purveyors of nautical-inspired timepieces have partnered with environmental charities focused on water-related causes to produce special editions, often with proceeds benefiting said charities.
This year, watch brands have taken the eco-trend to the next level, incorporating sustainable materials into several of these timepieces, as well as devoting funds from their sales.
Breitling Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition
The original version of this Breitling diver’s watch was launched in 1957. The Superocean Heritage Limited Edition watch here, which was developed in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, was launched in Bali, Indonesia, in 2019 as part of a massive, brand-sponsored beach clean-up initiative.
It has a 44mm stainless steel case, is water-resistant to 200 metres, and has a rotating dive-scale bezel in ocean blue to match the details on the three-register silvered dial.
The blue tones are echoed on the watch’s main eco-friendly talking point, its NATO-style strap woven from ECONYL yarn, a material produced from recycled ocean waste such as discarded nylon fishing nets.
The material is used for the clothing produced by Outerknown, a “sustainable” clothing brand co-founded by surfing champion and Breitling ambassador Kelly Slater. Limited edition of 1000 pieces; $US6250 ($A9030).
Oris Ocean Trilogy
Affordable-luxury watchmaker Oris kicked off its so-called Ocean Project in 2019 with the release of three limited-edition timepieces with marine blue dials from its Aquis dive watch series.
Portions of the sales for each will go to a different ocean-conservation charity. The Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition III, with its unconventional analogue date indicator scale and off-centre small seconds subdial, is limited to 2000 pieces.
Proceeds will support the Reef Restoration Foundation, whose mission is to regenerate damaged coral reefs.
Also limited to 2000 pieces is the Clean Ocean Limited Edition, a three-handed diver’s watch with a colourful caseback medallion made from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, whose sales help fund the Pacific Garbage Screening Initiative.
That organisation develops technologies to catch plastic waste before it enters the oceans.
Rounding out the Ocean Trilogy is the rarest, most complicated piece, the Blue Whale chronograph, which features a new dial configuration for the Aquis family and boosts the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, a group devoted to protecting these endangered sea mammals.
Limited to just 200 pieces compared to the others’ 2000, the Blue Whale is available only in a special gift set featuring all three watches in a presentation box made from recycled PET plastic.
Limited edition box set, 200 pieces, $US10,500 ($A15,175).
Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Scubatec Black Manta Special Edition
Lucerne, Switzerland-based Carl F. Bucherer joined forces with the Manta Trust, a UK-based charity dedicated to preserving the ocean habitats of manta rays, to create this latest version of its Patravi Scubatec divers’ watch.
This is the first one to feature a lightweight titanium case treated with black DLC (diamond-like carbon), a nanocomposite coating that combines high hardness with low corrosion.
Contrasting with the black case and dial are bronze-coloured details designed to evoke the look of old divers’ tools, including the first 15-minute segment on the rotating diver’s bezel, which is made of titanium and ceramic.
Also bronze-coloured are the two manta ray silhouettes in the dial’s centre and the stitching on the black textile strap, which is woven from a special material composed mostly of recycled PET plastic.
Inside the 500-metre, water resistant case is a chronometer-certified movement, the self-winding Calibre CFB 1950.1.
Proceeds from sales of the Black Manta watch will help fund a research project into the behaviour patterns of its aquatic namesake off the Yucatan Peninsula. $US7200 ($A10,400).
Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition
“Extreme” explorer Mike Horn has been a Panerai ambassador for more than 15 years, and the first watch to bear his name, from the newly rebranded Submersible collection, is suitably eco-aware in its use of materials.
In addition to yet another strap constructed from recycled PET material, the timepiece boasts a 300-metre, water-resistant case made from Panerai’s EcoTitanium.
Composed entirely of recycled titanium, the material is used for the case middle, the turning bezel, the telltale patented crown protector device, and the caseback, distinguished by a special engraving of Horn’s signature, along with silhouetted images of sea life.
The in-house-made movement, Calibre P.9010 with a three-day power reserve, comes from the Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, a facility operating to strict environmental standards and whose production, says Panerai, is designed to emit net zero carbon emissions.
Limited edition of 19 pieces, $US41,000 ($A59,250).