Environmentally Conscious Timekeeping


I am a watch guy; not dedicated to one particular style or maker, my tastes run the gamut. Vintage, brand new, elegant complications or chunky dive watches; I like them all. I have become a bit of an evangelist about one thing though – I think people should wear mechanical watches or watches that don’t need traditional batteries, if any.

With all the talk about going green, we should each take along hard look at ourselves; at our wrists, specifically. Are you still wearing one of those battery powered timekeepers? Well, shame on you. Just think about what it takes to manufacture, ship, store, replace and throw out millions of those little batteries each year. It’s enough to make a Swiss master watchmaker cry.

These days we have some great high-tech and low-tech options for marking time in an environmentally friendly fashion. Mechanical watches in particular have made a big comeback in recent years and they are the perfect investment if you’re looking for something to pass down to your kids. You can find quality mechanical timepieces in a range of prices, from $500 to $50,000.

Leaving aside the $25,000.00 Patek Philippe that most of us will not be acquiring in the near future, there are many affordable mechanical watches that will last a lifetime and remain stylish through most any trend.

The Rolex Submariner is a classic sports watch and at around $5,500.00, while not exactly cheap, it is a possible choice for many professionals. If you are looking for one “good” watch, you can’t go wrong with at Submariner. A very affordable alternative is the $375.00 Seiko “Orange Monster.” Yes, I said Seiko; watch aficionados know that they make some of the most reliable mechanical movements in the dive industry and the Orange Monster has its own cult following.

Want microsecond accuracy without having to shake your wrist? Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology transforms your watch into a big solar collector. The watch’s face and crystal absorb all types of light and convert it into the energy that runs your watch indefinitely. One of the most popular is the Citizen Skyhawk Black Eagle which lists around $475.00. It’s tough enough that no one will make fun of your social consciousness.

If you’re a fan of the unstoppable Jack Bauer from the TV action drama “24”, check out a favorite of mine, the Blackhawk by MTM. This is the very one Jack wears and it has a cool illumination feature that can be used to signal commandos, blind an assailant or just track down your car keys. The company’s revolutionary rechargeable lithium ion battery is good for 10 years and the watch needs only an overnight recharge every three months or so to keep it running strong. And don’t worry; the Secret Service and Delta Force have already tested it for you, so it’ll survive a rough afternoon on the back nine.

These are just a few of the hundreds of watches that can help you look sharp, telegraph your values and interests, and take a small but important step to reducing you personal carbon footprint. They also give you an excuse to add to your own collection.


Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice


  1. Turling says:

    A further point that they don’t have to be expensive. My favorite watch is an Elgin (currently, inexpensive) that I inherited from my grandfather. He purchased it for a few dollars days before being shipped out for World War II. It’s lasted decades, and hasn’t used a single battery during that time.

  2. Thanks Turling, not only is it a great example of what I meant, but it’s also a wonderful story about preserving a family heirloom.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Awesome article Chris. It is about time too. Will be checking out some of those mechanical watches! Thanks again for this wonderful information.

  4. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    The other end of the spectrum is the return of the pocket watch…in the guise of the modern cell-phone. It might not reside in a waistcoat pocket, but ask a man the time and the “gesture” is the same.

  5. I’ll second (or third) Turling’s point. Citizen, for instance, makes a military-style, Eco-Drive powered watch I’ve had my eye on for a while for casual wear: http://tinyurl.com/5n47xy.

  6. Thanks for the great comments everyone. I have to confess that someone once made the cell phone argument before and at an intellectual level, I cannot disagree. But it just doesn’t work for me. I know I sound all old fashioned, but to me a cell phone is an anonymous commodity – it’s a tool. A mechanical watch is a small piece of art that possesses an intrinsic value. I want my most personal possessions to have meaning beyond function. See, I went off an a tangent; OK, no more preaching…