Greubel Forsey goes vegan and will no longer use animal-based leatherThor Svaboe
Greubel Forsey, creators of last year’s thought-provoking Hand Made One and regular winners of GPHG honours, are known for their intricate craftsmanship and small production runs. But the brand have announced that, from 2022, they will no longer be using animal-based leather for any of their straps and will commit to using 100% plant-based leather instead. For one of the pinnacle brands of horology, this might seem a small step, but it’s no less than a milestone in this traditional luxury business known for its lack of adaptability. As far as we’re aware, Greubel Forsey are the first traditional watch manufacture to make this wholesale commitment.
This is a big deal as even with a low production number, a majority of Greubel Forsey’s references come on hand sewn leather straps. It’s a big step that sends a clear signal to the industry at large. The industry needs to adapt ethically and with an eye to sustainability – recycled nylon for a NATO strap doesn’t cut it in 2021.
“The technical offer for plant-based straps is mature, and our clients are by nature forward-thinking and welcoming of innovation,” says Antonio Calce, Chief Executive Officer. “We want to be in line with their world vision and we are delighted to write a new chapter of responsible and sustainable high-end watchmaking.”
Hand-crafted soft leather is what we have come to expect in this echelon of watchmaking – we’re not talking rubber and hybrid tech-fabrics like Hublot. Smooth, golden hues of alligator or crocodile leather is what the clients expect to see, especially when spending upwards of $200K on a watch.
After two tentative conversations with Greubel Forsey earlier this week, I am nothing but impressed by what is a lot more than a simple green-wash, but an audacious move to underline the importance of sustainability. From H&M’s sustainable collection featuring cactus leather to Stella McCartney’s garments made of mushroom leather, apparel and luxury goods powerhouses seem to be at the faux-front of this bio-based materials movement. The watchmaking business often isn’t the quickest at turn-arounds, so Greubel Forsey will be setting a big example.
This is an encouraging sign for the industry and we look forward to touching, feeling and appreciating luxury watch straps that make the suffering and sacrifice of animals a thing of the past. We can consider this the first step of Greubel Forsey towards new and responsible developments. It seems that a time for change has come.