aunched with the aid of participatory financing in 2020, ID Genève raised funds of CHF 272,000. This enabled it to produce its first Circular 1 collection featuring, in particular, a watch case made entirely of recycled steel, and to offer for sale a “foundational” limited edition of 175 pieces.
Barely three years later, the investment round has secured a sum nearly ten times larger by raising two million Swiss francs and the support of none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. The American actor has been an ardent supporter of the environmental cause and a major spokesman in the climate movement for 25 years. He is investing his own money in the ID Genève adventure in a move that will help put the spotlight on its endeavours around the world.
Not an “ambassador”
“But why, we might ask ourselves, raise funds when the brand’s organic growth looks rosy? It will help us to boost our impact, and align perfectly with our raison d’être. We hope to prove that circular economy principles create desirability and that luxury has an important part to play in promoting and developing those principles. We’ve been joined in our efforts by the Swiss family offices, an eco-responsible investment fund and Leonardo DiCaprio himself”, explains Nicolas Freudiger, the dynamic co-founder of ID Genève. The money raised will mainly help define and implement the brand’s developments until 2025.
The entrepreneur confides: “Leonardo DiCaprio is not an ambassador who’s being paid to make publicity on our behalf. He’s a committed activist and believes in our project and the values it embodies. He has decided to become a shareholder in the company and to be our Environmental Advocate. It’s a huge honour. We look forward to welcoming him soon in Switzerland. We’re about to embark on our new relationship and will be making slow and steady progress with the actor’s help.”
A hub for the circular economy
Is he not worried about losing independence by bringing such a huge media celebrity into the company? Nicolas Freudiger is quick to allay any doubts: “We’re all very clear about the profound purpose of what we’re doing. ID Genève is just the beginning. We want to set up a genuine circular economy “hub” for the luxury industry. That means gathering initiatives, cooperations, pooling efforts and innovations and working together to accelerate the transition to a more eco-responsible economy. We’ll continue to seek out partners with this goal in mind. The aim is to grow a platform for testing solutions to the high standards of the luxury industry. Lastly, we want to serve all the other “climate heroes” like Leonardo DiCaprio who seek out solutions.”
They’ve certainly got big ambitions and the arrival of a heavyweight champion of the environmental cause will definitely help the brand, but what are the direct consequences of amassing these new funds for ID Genève in terms of production, new technologies, and market openings?
- Nicolas Freudiger
“We currently produce around 600 watches a year”, concedes Nicolas Freudiger. “Obviously, the next batches will be bigger: we’re thinking of maybe 500, or 1,000 pieces per collection for the Circular 1 and the Circular S. We’ve already been invited to Dubai Watch Week where we’ll be proposing an alternative to mined gold at what is a world hub for the extracted gold mineral, and holding a keynote on circularity. Likewise, we’ll be present at two new retail outlets in the US (in Soho and New Jersey) with Watches of Switzerland. We’ll also be able to continue developing new eco-circular materials. Our new Circular C collection in recycled carbon and regenerative resin, created together with the Swiss start-up CompPair, is a good example of the possibilities that this offers.”
First B Corp-certified Swiss watch brand
On 6 October, ID Genève became the first Swiss watch company to obtain B Corp certification, a recognised reference in the field of sustainability. The company is accordingly required draw up a detailed, verifiable account of its impacts. With what results?
“We’re in the process of finalising our report, but we’re confident that we can reach our goal of maximum circularity with minimised impact. Our goals are very ambitious, such as achieving zero extraction (Ed.’s note: one of the positions emitting the highest levels of CO2). B Corps certification means we’ll be part of a very positive community which is striving for a systemic change, whether one is a start-up or a large company. When we look at the current downturn in the global circularity rate among companies (Ed.’s note: 9.1% in 2018, 8.6% in 2020 and 7.2% in 2023 according to Circular Gap), we realise how much ground is still to be covered. Solutions do exist because many metals are 100% recyclable. The luxury industry should set an example in this respect. It all fits in with our vision. We will not compromise over circularity: it’s the cornerstone of ID Genève.”
- The ID Genève team