How Zenith Watches Supports Women and the Environment
If a watch brand claims to be innovative, it shouldn’t just be because they’re using the latest cutting edge materials or patenting new mechanisms. Being innovative spans beyond the products themselves and into the entire approach of the brand and its place in the world.
Today, watches are no longer an object we need to tell time. Instead, people continue to collect watches because they are sentimental, emotional objects often marking a significant event or milestone. People desire a connection to the watch they purchase and everything that goes into it, including the ethos and impact of the brand behind it. It’s this understanding that has spurred Zenith to develop its HORIZ-ON program. This philanthropic initiative spans across a diverse array of partnerships that aim to go beyond a simple financial contribution and demonstrate core values of the brand.
In 2020, Zenith established its DreamHers initiative. It began as a way to elevate women who have made remarkable achievements in historically male-dominated fields, from the culinary world to medicine, sports, entertainment, and music. In the years to follow, Zenith has taken its DreamHers project beyond typical brand ambassadors who merely serve as a representative of the brand and gone on to host Meet the DreamHers events. These include panel discussions that allow these women to tell their stories of how they have pushed the boundaries and worked even harder to achieve their positions in their respective fields. Today, Zenith has extended its DreamHers initiative to include a mentorship program for young girls with its current range of ambassadors.
Breast Cancer Awareness
As an extension of its support of female causes, Zenith has also partnered with both Pink Ribbon Switzerland and Susan G. Komen on a number of collaborative watches. For the past two years, Zenith has used its Meet the DreamHers events to launch these timepieces, first the Defy Midnight Pink Ribbon Edition for Pink Ribbon Switzerland’s charity auction in 2021. A year later, Zenith forged a partnership with Susan G. Komen—the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists—and debuted a special edition of its Chronomaster Original with a pink dial at the Meet the DreamHers event in Singapore. Zenith released this model as a limited edition only available during Breast Cancer Awareness Month with 20% of the proceeds going to Susan G. Komen.
Following its success, Zenith debuted another limited edition model in October of this year, the Chronomaster Sport Pink, with 20% of the proceeds once again going to Susan G. Komen. In addition, Zenith contributed a unique edition of its Chronomaster Original to Phillips’ New York Watch Auction: Eight in June. While the timepiece was only expected to sell for $8,000-16,000, it went on to nearly double its high estimate, bringing in $30,480 with all proceeds going directly to Susan G. Komen.
A year after establishing its DreamHers program, Zenith took its mission to support women in traditionally male-dominated fields a step further with Extreme E. Extreme E is an off-road racing series sanctioned by the International Automobile Federation that uses spec silhouette electric SUVs. Within the sport, each team must consist of one male and one female driver in promotion of gender equality. In addition, each Extreme E race takes place in a destination largely impacted by climate change with the goal of bringing awareness to these areas and the climate crisis. Zenith first began working with Extreme E as an official timekeeper, and a year later, the duo unveiled the first of their collaborative timepieces: the Defy Extreme E.
Each watch incorporates recycled and upcycled materials wherever possible. For instance, take Extreme E tires, which already contain around one-third recycled and renewable raw materials like silica from the ashes of rice husks and recycled polyester made from reprocessed PET bottles. After each racing season, these get a second life in the form of the strap for the Defy Extreme E. The attention to detail and sustainability extends to the packaging. Here, the case’s lid coating is made from recycled E-grip tires from previous races, while the plate covering is made from parts of an Extreme E racing tarpaulin. In their latest collaboration, launched in May of this year, Zenith took things a step further with a Defy Extreme E made entirely of carbon fiber, the material used in Extreme E’s race cars. While the volume of materials being recycled or upcycled is arguably nominal, the watches serve as a conversation piece to raise awareness for the climate crisis and promote the use of more sustainable materials in watchmaking.
The day prior to each Extreme E race, Zenith participates in a public service day to help clean up and restore a portion of the destination that has been impacted by a natural disaster or climate crisis. At the Extreme E race in Sardinia, Zenith had an opportunity to take part in MEDSEA‘s Local Legacy Program, a climate change initiative aimed at restoring the Posidonia Oceanica meadows in the Mediterranean Sea. Zenith was so moved by this experience that the brand forged a partnership with MEDSEA a year later.
Posidonia Oceanica, commonly known as Neptune grass, serves as a vital marine habitat and plays a pivotal role in CO2 reduction as a “blue carbon” store. Due to rising sea temperatures, Posidonia has suffered degradation to its natural habitat resulting in a drastic drop in the number of plants over the last few years. In fact, seagrass, one of the most effective sources of carbon storage on earth, is believed to be one of the most rapidly declining ecosystems in the world. Even though it only occupies 0.2% of the ocean floor, seagrass stores 10% of the oceans’ carbon and can capture 30% more from the atmosphere than its tropical rainforest equivalent. This unique capacity to capture and store carbon makes preserving seagrass ecosystems one of the most vital steps in mitigating the effects of climate change.
When it comes to the art of watchmaking, sustainability can be a challenge, but the strap is an easy place to start. So, Zenith formed a partnership with Nona Source, an online resale platform launched in 2020 with the goal of finding a way to allow brands to repurpose luxury maisons’ deadstock fabrics and obtain premium leftover fabrics at accessible prices. Within two years, Nona Source was acknowledged by and became a member of La Fédération de la Mode Circulaire, an organization that supports circular fashion companies in the textile recycling industry. For Zenith, these fabrics take on a second life as watch straps. Each strap is totally unique, giving customers the opportunity to display their passion for sustainability on their wrist.
Developing Products for a Cause
Now more than ever, owning a luxury watch is just that—a luxury. We no longer need a watch to tell time, particularly not one with a five-figure price tag. Some luxury watch companies are beginning to recognize this shift in the approach to collecting, one that goes beyond the utility of a timekeeper and spans to the deeper significance of the watch and the brand behind it. Zenith is just one example of a watchmaker who understands it has a certain responsibility to try to use its power as an industry leader to contribute to the world’s progress in a meaningful way through the watches it creates.