Chopard Forges Ahead With 80 Percent Recycled Steel for All Watches

GENEVA — It will be high time for recycled steel, as Chopard revealed Monday there would be a minimum of 80 percent of its proprietary Lucent Steel in its watches by the end of 2023.

By 2025, the target is 90 percent, said copresident Karl-Friedrich Scheufele at a keynote presentation at Watches and Wonders here.

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Trademarked as Lucent Steel, the recycled steel used by Chopard was four years in the making, composed of high-quality industrial scraps from Swiss watchmakers as well as high-grade steel from the medical, aerospace and automotive industries. The first timepiece to use this was the 2019 Alpine Eagle, codesigned with Scheufele’s son Karl-Fritz and his father Karl.

“To put things into perspective, we use 25 to 30 tons of steel per year,” said the luxury executive, saying steel timepieces represented 45,000 to 50,000 pieces every year for the brand.

“Concretely, by using recycled steel — and recycling [it] — no new steel is introduced,” he continued, citing figures from the International Stainless Steel Forum that show that increasing the proportion of recycled steel from 50 to 80 percent would amount to a 30 percent cut in emissions related to production. The 90 percent target would represent a 40 percent cut.

The recycled steel also represents a further step in Chopard’s commitment to “a long-term process of responsible sourcing of the raw materials that make our business possible” that began in 2013 with a commitment to sourcing ethical gold, with a 100 percent target reached in 2018, according to Karl-Friedrich Scheufele.

“My street cred really goes up with my kids and their friends,” quipped Chopard ambassador Julia Roberts, calling sustainability at once a bonus and a necessity. Earlier, her arrival at the Chopard booth had created a frisson that saw fairgoers and even rival brands cluster together in a 15-deep crowd.

Also addressed was the image of recycled materials as low-quality options. According to the brand, Lucent Steel is anti-allergenic, 50 percent more resistant to abrasion than conventional steel and a high-performance material that reflects light in a unique way thanks to a homogeneous crystal microstructure.

Chopard Keynote Watches and Wonders
Moderator Alexandre Kouchner, Chopard co-president Caroline Scheufele, Julia Roberts, Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Panatere’s Liselotte Touring, Voestalpine’s Michael Rotpart at Watches and Wonders.

In addition to being a more ecological solution, “solar steel is a very stable price to offer to the luxury market,” as it is not subject to energy price fluctuation, said Liselotte Thuring, sustainability project manager at Panatere, a company that specializes in recovery and transformation of raw materials and which is working on a solar-powered metal process.

Other partners in this are suppliers Voestalpine, an Austrian steel-based technology and capital goods group, and PX Precimet, a Swiss steel specialist company.

Chopard also said it has joined the Climate Group SteelZero, becoming the first from the watch and jewelry sector to do so. But it hopes not to be the last. “Just as much as the gold, we need some lobbying and we don’t want to stand alone as a Don Quixotte,” said Chopard copresident Caroline Scheufele.

A move that ensures “its customers start to think about the carbon emissions linked to the items that they wear on their wrists,” said Jen Carson, head of industry at the Climate Group non-government organization, in a statement revealing the move.

“I think that to be sustainable is something that people admire and look for. People here would know that consumers are asking smart questions and make their purchasing decisions on more than just what catches the eye,” Roberts said. “People will see they have to join, it’s their moral imperative and it’s good for business.”

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