I recently had the privilege of attending an event with Seiko that focused on their Save the Ocean collection, and the work that can be done with the funds raised. While the event itself was an interesting blend of experience and information, I’ll explain exactly what the Seiko Save the Ocean collection is first.
If you’ve ever been in a boutique that carries Seiko, while you were browsing the cabinets packed with their latest releases, you might have noticed a range of dive watches in the Prospex family with gradient blue dials that have an almost metallic quality. If you looked closer again at these blue-to-black fading dials, you would have seen an irregular stripe pattern, which was inspired by the lines that run along the bellies of humpback whales. It is these watches with gradient blue dials that sit within the Seiko Save the Ocean collection, and are made separate from the rest of the Prospex family, as a portion of the sales are donated to ocean conservation efforts around the globe.
Aligned with this, Seiko are working with filmmaker Fabien Cousteau as an official Save the Ocean ambassador, who is also none other than the grandson of the legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. Fabien has carried on the legacy that was started by his grandfather in the 1960s, when Jacques captured the imagination of the world when he reached the deepest part of the ocean, 10,915m, in 1960. Most interestingly for watch collectors, however, Jacques did it with a watch on the outside of his submersible. We were lucky enough that Fabien was able to attend the event with us in Cairns, Queensland, the home of the Great Barrier Reef, and also the site of one conservation project that Seiko is supporting on nearby Fitzroy Island.
Over a couple of days, Fabien spoke to us as he explained his work, and why he does what he does. While it’s certainly of benefit to have one of the greatest underwater explorers of all time as a family member, Fabien has been no slouch himself, breaking his grandfather’s record for the most time spent underwater, at 31 days, and working hard to bring the current plight of the ocean and its inhabitants to millions of people around the world.
He has produced a number of documentaries on the lives of sharks and other sea creatures, including one series where, after being inspired by a Tintin comic as a young boy, he built a great white shark-shaped submarine that he could fit inside, and which also moved and behaved like a great white shark, thanks to the help of a team that designed animatronics in Hollywood. The result was an underwater vessel the same size as a teenaged great white, fitted with cameras, which allowed Fabien to swim among real great whites as they hunted a nearby seal colony. Fabien kept us company on a small dive trip of our own, where we swam among the fish and coral of the Great Barrier Reef, and were even lucky enough to see a small reef shark swim past.
We also visited the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where we met with the co-founder of the organisation, Jennie Gilbert, a recipient of support from Seiko, who also spoke to us about her own work. At her facility there were a number of turtles of various species receiving care. In her rehabilitation program, Jennie has strict requirements in place to ensure the turtles are returned to the wild only when they are back to full health. As a result, she has a 90 per cent success rate of returning turtles to the wild, and has never had a turtle return after receiving care.
While on Fitzroy Island, the Managing Director of Seiko Australia, Yukiaki Suganuma, offered a donation to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre that will help the centre build vital infrastructure to protect the turtles from the sun, and keep them cool during the summer months.
While I have been a big fan of Seiko’s watches prior to working in the watch industry, it was never clear to me what the Save the Ocean collection was. It seemed like an idea born in a marketing meeting that didn’t have much to do with watches or the ocean, but after speaking with both Fabien and Jennie about how they are respectively working with Seiko to both bring awareness to the damage that is being caused to the ocean by human behaviour and save critically endangered species in the wild, I realised how Seiko was contributing to positive outcomes with their conservation support.
As Fabien said at one point when he was asked what to do when you felt hopeless about the impact an individual could have on the global environment, he responded: “Whether you feel like it’s making a big difference, it’s like filling a bucket, one drop at a time, and together we can make it overflow. It’s as simple as that.”