Shopping more sustainably is a high priority for many of us – and rightly so.

But how can we as consumers avoid falling into greenwashing traps? How can we demand that brands action real change?

“The field is still so rapidly evolving,” explains Aurelia Figueroa, Global Head of Sustainability at Breitling, an industry trailblazer in pioneering social and environmental change. “The most important thing to back up any sustainability claim is traceability. You can’t make a sustainability claim if you can’t talk about origin.”

“I hope one day that will be mandated at an industry-wide level but for now it’s down to brands to have that information readily available. Essentially, consumers need to be asking the right questions.”

Of course, the most sustainable move is to reduce consumption overall. But when you do want to make an investment in a new watch or a piece of keep-forever jewellery, it’s worth asking these questions…

1. How transparent is a brand in providing information?

Traceability is the secret to genuine sustainability, both socially and environmentally. So it’s a good sign if you’re able to find readily available information about every step in the production process for a watch or jewellery item.

“Ask of a product: Where did it come from? Who was involved in its production? How were they treated?” Aurelia suggests. “Evidence is essential to back up claims – what is the nature of any evidence a brand provides? Who has verified it?”

The Breitling team is practising what it preaches with the launch of the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins, the brand’s first-ever ‘traceable watch’. Each has a provenance record linked to a blockchain-backed NFT, detailing the origins of its precious materials and the responsible measures taken along the supply chain – all with independently verified information by Sourcemap, where the supply chain is documented on this NFT and on an online source map. This includes the watch’s artisanal gold and lab-grown diamonds.



2. Where does a brand source its precious materials?

You might assume recycled materials will help reduce your environmental impact, but when it comes to gold, things aren’t black and white.

That’s because it’s extremely difficult to accurately trace the origins of recycled gold, and a lack of regulation means original materials could have been mined just a few days before in a manner that creates serious environmental degradation or social damage.

Scrutiny of the source of the materials is essential – the most trusted source of gold is one that you can trace at every stage of the production process, even if that means skipping out on recycled materials.

3. Does a product benefit the community it was sourced from?

True sustainability is as much about the social impact of production as it is environmental, so brands must be committed to supporting the community they rely on.

Ask of a product:
Where did it come from?
Who was involved in its production?

Gold mining, in particular, is often done in very remote areas, and can be an essential source of income for those communities. How is a company giving back to that community? Non-exploitative working conditions are non-negotiable, and brands may also be involved in social and economic development initiatives that support an area.

Can’t find any information about it? Take that as a potential red flag. For Breitling, the aim is responsibly sourced gold and diamonds from accredited suppliers by 2025, and the brand work with artisanal mines that support local community development projects.


4. How is a brand minimising their carbon footprint?

Sustainability will be an ongoing journey for brands, who must continuously innovate to minimise their carbon footprint. For Breitling, that means constantly holding itself accountable. Last year, the brand measured the carbon footprint of individual products through a product material carbon footprint assessment in cooperation with the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency.

This industry-first reporting not only sheds light on the sustainable specifics, but it also means Breitling can find new insights into the environmental impacts of its upstream value chain, and identify which elements are responsible for these. This data allows the brand to take action and reduce its carbon footprint in real time.

5. Where does a brand source its diamonds and do they offer lab-grown options?

It’s exceptionally difficult to verify the origins of mined diamonds and, as Figueroa explains, ‘the biodiversity and water impact of mined diamonds is tremendous, as is the energy needed to extract them.’

By using lab-grown diamonds, brands are able to work closely with suppliers to ensure full traceability at every stage of the supply chain – including ascertaining their social practices, monitoring the nature of their energy supply and engaging with them to help them transition to renewable energy sources.


Price: $23,700



Price: $24,200


Find out more about the Super Chronomat Automatic 38 Origins, here, as well as Breitling’s sustainable practices here.