While we're still a long way from seeing a poster of Swedi - sh climate activist Greta Thunberg in every Swiss watch manufacture, the in - dustry has clearly woken up to the need to embrace the environmental cause and de - fend the principles of socially responsible development. The realisation has been late in coming, for sure, and some measures – when measures there are – merely pay lip service to good practice, but advances have been made, and this is where we need to focus our attention. For one simple reason: without ethics, luxury is on a road to nowhere. There can be no selling the dream when the diamonds on a bezel may have helped fuel the massacre of civilians in Africa, or when the gold used to fashion a case could have poisoned thousands of South American miners, many just children, with mercury vapours. This is the first challenge to be taken up by the entire profession, across the supply chain, with the aim of ensuring that blood diamonds and other conflict stones are banished from circuits once and for all, and that dirty gold disappears. It's a task made all the more complex by the fact there is no means of analyzing metals to ascertain their origin, and stones can only be given a definite provenance after specialist testing. Success hinges on the individual players, the willingness of a majority to comply with standards, and the quality of the process that leads to certification. The battle has yet to be won, but in just a few years undeniable progress has been made. Not so very long ago, if a brand had announced its intention to make all its products from ethically sourced gold, it would have been dis - missed as wishful thinking: supplies could never have satisfied demand. Not any more. It's a similar picture where the environment is concerned. Sport watches cut out for the ocean's deep or built to conquer the world's highest peak don't have quite the same appeal when floating in a sea of plastic, or in the midst of the trash littering the Everest base camp. Here, too, watch brands have committed to action that will preserve the oceans or other ecosystems, reduce the environmental impact of their production, increase their use of recyclable materials, together with other entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at making the world a better place. There may be a way to go, this awareness is very real nonetheless. Particularly as not everyone values their watch for the number of complications on the dial; many do so as a means of connecting with the wheels of Time. Our responsibility is to keep them turning.
Fondation Haute Horlogerie