Grape expectations: Mondaine’s new vegan classic watch

The iconic Swiss timepiece gets a sustainable update

Mondaine classic watches with vegan grape straps

Like the Anglepoise light, the Bic biro, the Dieter Rams-designed Braun radio, and the “Valentine” Olivetti typewriter, Mondaine’s classic clock face, conceived by Hans Hilfiker in 1944, is an icon of design, as is the brand’s matching classic watch. An emblem of the Bauhaus’ reductive spirit, the Mondaine dial is recognised by its bold black hour batons and red “lollipop” seconds hand.

A familiar feature at Swiss train stations – the Mondaine clock has been used across the Swiss Federal Railways network for the past 70 years – it is also a symbol of punctuality and pragmatism.

Collections have nonetheless evolved and developed in a quietly elegant fashion. For example, there’s the Mondaine Giant edition equipped with an oversized dial and the Simply Elegant range noted for its slimline case. This said, the core design has remained a constant throughout the decades. The brand has mastered the art of stealthy changes, embracing contemporary trends as a subtle undercurrent. A case in point is the Classic collection of watches which now come dressed in a sustainable vegan grape leather strap, made of 75% eco-composite vegetable and 25% recycled PET materials.

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Mondaine vegan leather watch brown

Modaine’s move reflects the wider fashion industry’s steady directive towards alternative, plant-sourced materials. For example, last year Nike released a pair of Air Max trainers with panels made of pineapple leather, while Italian tech-textile firm, Orange Fiber, recently won the second edition of the Vogue YOOX Challenge with its range of sustainable fabrics derived from citrus fruit by-products.

The watchmaker is, however, well practised in the field of sustainability. It may come as a surprise to learn that the entire Mondaine group – which includes Luminox, M-WATCH, Pierre Cardin, and is family-owned by second generation brothers André and Ronnie Bernheim – is one of the few global watch brands to be 100% CO2-neutral. In addition to this, watches and clocks are produced using 80% solar energy in Mondaine’s state-of-the-art factory which opened in 2009 in Biberist, Switzerland.

The hand-assembled Classic model – available in a variety of case sizes, in either brushed or polished stainless steel with straps in brown or black grape leather – has been a runaway success. Some styles have already sold out proving that even icons of design can benefit from an ecological rethink.

Available from John Lewis, priced from £189 to £209.

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