With so many luxury watch brands jumping on the sustainable band wagon, sometimes you have to take a closer look at brands that jumped in early. In fact, several affordable fashion watch brands were working on sustainable collections several years ago, including Swiss brand Mondaine – the Swiss Railway brand. It was several years ago that Mondaine introduced its Essence collection of sustainable watches, sold in a set with additional straps and even with cell phone cases. Recently, we went hands on with the Mondaine Essence 32mm watch and we had a lot of fun with it – while at the same time feeling really good about wearing it.
First Impressions of the Mondaine Essence watch
From the moment I took the Mondaine Essence watch out of its box (made of recyclable cardboard), I was impressed. I am not sure what I was expecting of the sustainable, eco-friendly watch set but to be honest, since the watch sells for $235, I didn’t expect a lot. I was pleasantly surprised – attesting to the fact that affordable watches can have good looks and reliability. The 32mm size is a bit small for my wrist, but I liked the clean look of the watch. After all, Mondaine is known for its minimalistic, easy-to-read dials and that is appealing.
The watch I wore features a white case made of recycled PET bottles and boasting a textile strap (two straps are actually included in the set) backed with cork. The brand offers the recycled case in white, black or gray. I liked the white, especially with summer coming around the corner. The two straps that came with it are a nice textured fabric that is woven to offer a singular color way, but, in fact, a close-up look at the strap shows the tweed-like motif. The two straps are gray and a red that borders sometimes on a brick reddish/orange and sometimes on pink. The gray strap is my favorite because the white watch looks particularly nice on it and enables the watch to go from day and casual to a little dressier, perfect-for-dinners-out style.
Again, thanks to the Mondaine large stick markers and bold hands in black against the white dial, the watch is striking and super easy to read. I particularly love the bold red second hand with dot at the end – reminiscent of all of the Swiss railway clocks. Not only does it look great on the wrist, but also the weight of the watch is light because of the recycled materials, so it feels good, as well.
The History of Mondaine’s Swiss Railway watch collection
It was in 1944 that Swiss engineer and designer Hans Hilfiker created the Official Swiss Railways Clock that featured this red seconds hand and black and white motif. Then, in 1986, Mondaine was inspired by the iconic design and transformed it into a watch, with the official license from the Federal Swiss Railways. The first collection launched that year and the brand has since continued to evolve the look, expanding to clocks, as well. the Mondaine collection has even won several top-design awards.
Details of the Sustainable Mondaine Essence Watch
Of course, while the packaging, case and strap are all recyclable materials, it is powered by a Ronda 513 quartz movement with battery. That may be the only negative about this timepiece. It is further quipped with a hardened mineral crystal and is water resistant to 30 meters. Another thing I like about this watch is that it carries a two year warranty. Oh, and let’s not forget that great price: $235.
Mondaine and Sustainability
Throughout its 70 years of existence (the brand was founded in 1951), family-owned Mondaine has been known as an innovator. When the concept of sustainability and carbon-free footprints reared its head, the brand didn’t run the other way, but rather embraced options and began extensive R&D for watches , as well as implementing change at the Manufacture level. Since 2019, all Mondaine watches are produced using solar power in the brand’s state-of-the-art workshops in Biberist, Switzerland, where it has its own photovoltaic solar plant on the roof.