At the start of 2019, IWC Schaffhausen took New Year’s resolutions seriously, in an act that has finally been made public after weeks of keeping their promise quiet: the Swiss watchmaker pledged to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, undertaking to eliminate plastic they dont need. A new initiative by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, they have signed on the dotted line to ensure all plastic they do use is 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable regarding packaging – and all by 2025.
This marks another huge sustainability step for this historic brand, with years of craftsmanship and quality culminating in their brand success. Proving that luxury giants can commit to making positive change, this continues IWC’s sustainability credentials – so what is IWC’s CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr most proud of when it comes to sustainability? And what does their future look like?
HOW DOES IWC CHAMPION THE PLANET AND ITS PEOPLE?
“IWC has been working for many years to ensure our watches are made to the highest standards, with careful consideration of our social and environmental impact. We recognize that there is more work to be done, and our efforts continue to evolve.
We integrate sustainability throughout our business, adopting the five-pillar framework used by our parent company, Richemont Group. These five pillars: Governance and Ethics, Sourcing, IWC as an Employer, Environment, and Community Investment, are complemented by the cross-cutting themes of engagement, and innovation.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF AT IWC?
We celebrated our 150th anniversary in 2018, and I think it is a testament to the skill of our designers and watchmakers that our watches continue to be regarded as among the finest in the world. By combining precision engineering and exclusive design with innovation, we have built an internationally respected brand and at the same time contributed to Swiss heritage and the local community of Schaffhausen.
In addition to our unique watches, I am proud of our new Manufacturing Center (top image), which opened in August 2018 and consolidates movement part making, case making and movement assembly in one facility. The Center is truly state-of-the-art, technically but also with such features as ergonomic workstations and plenty of natural daylight, as well as green building aspects such as sensor-controlled sunshades, automatic lighting, and rooftop solar panels.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUSTAINABILITY ACHIEVEMENTS?
In terms of achievements with the biggest impact, something as simple as powering our headquarters and Manufacturing Center with renewable energy is a likely contender. We are also very careful in our sourcing of raw materials, using a high percentage of recycled gold and other metals, and ensuring all our suppliers of gold and diamonds are Responsible Jewellery Council-certified. In 2018, we became the first luxury watch brand to publish a sustainability report to GRI Standards, setting measurable targets to meet by 2020. Our efforts are constantly evolving, so it could also be that our biggest achievement is yet to come.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE IWC’S LEGACY TO BE?
With 150 years behind us, I believe we already have a strong legacy, and would simply like to continue as weve done until now, providing our customers with beautiful watches of the highest possible quality, produced in a responsible way.
THE FUTURE OF WATCHES IS…
IWC Schaffhausen has always embraced innovation, and we continue to explore and develop new materials. For example, were currently pursuing alternatives to leather that will meet our high quality standards. Im also very excited about the potential technology can now offer regarding traceability. Here in Switzerland, its not uncommon to see on a restaurant menu the names of the farmers who produced the food. It would be fantastic if we could trace the entire story of each of our watches, from the origins of their ingredients to the point at which our customers take them home.
Image credits: IWC