While the Swiss watch industry is just beginning to embrace the idea of sustainable practices, a new French brand has made it its raison d’être.
Aptly named Awake, this newcomer to the watch world is leading the charge in sustainable timekeeping.
Awake sustainable business model is based on three pillars.
- Sustainable Products: watches are made of eco-friendly and sustainable materials
- Recycling: the brand offers a free recycling service for old watches (along with a €50 gift voucher)
- Charity: the brand works with celebrities on watches where 100% of the proceeds go to charity.
A Kickstarter success story
The adventure started in 2018 with a vision for a sustainable watch brand and a Kickstarter campaign for USD 30,000 that was planned to run for a month.
“It was amazing, we reached our goal within an hour and ended up with $400,000 to produce 2.000 pre-ordered watches. – It was then that we knew that we were really onto something.”lilian thibault, awake’s founder
A surprise telephone call from the French Elysée
Shortly after delivering its first timepieces to its initial Kickstarter believers, the company received a telephone call from the French government.
They asked about the possibility of making a series of timepieces to present to participants at the upcoming G7 summit in Biarritz.
The best celebrity endorsement, President Emmanuel Macron
The brand proudly delivered 100 of its sustainable timepieces to the G7 organizers, imagining that they would be offered as gifts. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, had a bigger plan.
During the opening session on Climate, Biodiversity, and the Oceans, Macron held the watch up to the television cameras and all of the world leaders present, stating:
“This watch is entirely made of recycled materials. It is an illustration of what we want to do. It was made with plastic waste that was scavenged from the ocean.”emmanuel macron, presdient of french republic
The Awake team couldn’t have dreamed of a better endorsement. “This was the best spotlight ever,” explains Thibault. “The media frenzy of attention we received following the presentation was just insane.”
How is made this sustainable watch?
Ghost fishing nets
The Awake team immediately got to work making a new series of timepieces using a material made of abandoned fishing nets.
This was the first time a watch had been made out of ghost fishing nets. It took the brand six months of research and development to perfect the technical and aesthetic aspects of this new sustainable material.
The result was a case that was not only sustainable, durable, and lightweight but also the perfect talking point to raise awareness about the 20,000 tons of plastic dumped in the oceans every day. Ten percent of it is made up of ghost fishing nets that trap over 650,000 animals per day.
Sustainable from the strap to the packaging
In addition to the new sustainable case material, Awake fitted the timepiece with a solar movement that could power itself uniquely from the energy of the sun with no electricity, no battery, and no waste.
As for the nylon straps, they were made from recycled R-PET bottles and were colored in France’s red, white and blue. All this was then packaged in 100% recycled cardboard that is 15% lighter than conventional cardboard, further minimizing the carbon footprint.
The latest addition to the Awake world
This week the brand is unveiling a brand-new collection of sustainable timepieces called the Awake .01, which takes the sustainable journey one step further.
The brand is unveiling a new RE-FN-S1® material in this new collection which took 18 months of research and development to produce.
The sustainable watches are produced in the company’s own R&D facility called “The Lab”.
It is being used to make a new generation of durable watch cases that are made of 80% re-engineered fishing nets and 20% biomaterial.
The cases can be produced in different colors and feature interesting specs of contrasting colors that catch the eye across the case and dial.
Each watch is paired with a BioPoly strap, made from oil that has been extracted from the seeds of the castor bean, and is embossed with the brand’s slogan #FCKPLSTIC.
And last but not least, the packaging is made of recycled sugar cane fiber.
“Through our products and design, we want to bring new people into our eco-responsible world,”LILIAN THIBAULT, AWAKE’S FOUNDER
“We will never patent our ideas; it is not part of our philosophy. In fact, we hope that what we are doing will inspire the leading watch brands to be more eco-responsible, even if that could be competition for us, it is the right thing. We just need to stay ahead of the curve,” he adds, smiling.
Awake’s timepieces are available on their e-shop and range in price from $200 to $300.
What better reminder to be eco-conscious in our daily lives than a sustainable timepiece on the wrist?