I recently listened to an incredible podcast titled “Does Doing Good Give You License to Be Bad?” by Freakonomics. In the podcast, the hosts explored why 90% of Fortune 500 companies engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSA). CSR is the idea that companies self-regulate to promote sustainable business models and an idea of responsibility for their actions. In short, they usually donate or do business around the idea of helping those less fortunate. The reason many companies do this is however not out of the kindness of their heart, but rather that there often is an economic incentive. This is not to say that CSR is bad, in fact I think it is great that companies are becoming more aware of their impact on the world. However, it is an interesting trend to follow and recently we have found a wonderful example in the watch world.
Richemont recently introduced a new watch brand that they call “Baume”. When you go to their website you can find on the front page a big section linking to a page they call “responsible thinking”. In it, you will be greeted by a big picture of massive dark green leaves, a white design surrounding it à la Apple, and a swarm of buzzwords such as Upcycling, Mindful design, and a Circular life system. So what are they actually doing? Well, the idea is that as much as possible of your watch is actually from recycled materials, that may be aluminum for the case or PET bottles for the bracelet. The brand makes a commitment to working with only the most sustainable NGOs for the supply of their materials.
Baume will offer two models, one called the Iconic which will set you back around 1,000 Euro and is their top watch sporting a Citizen movement. The other model is a cheaper one called the Custom Timepiece Series (ah, the creativity, which allows you to *Surprise Surprise* customise your watch featuring a Quartz movement and costing around 500 euro. Personally, both those prices seem a bit steep for the horological value they provide. The design is fine but not breath-taking, and honestly, I believe that anyone would be better off saving a bit more and getting themselves a Nomos.
To conclude, Baume didn’t excite me particularly but I do respect and would like to see how other companies could incorporate CSR into their designs. Then again I do not see myself in the target customer group for this watch. I believe Richemont is trying to target the kind of guy who likes the look of a Daniel Wellington but wants something a bit more special, something that can play the environmentally friendly trump card with your fashion conscious friends. After all how bad of a guy can you be if your watch is recycled?