Leather is treated as the preferred material for watch straps due to several reasons: it's durable, luxurious to the touch and just plain looks good. However, the environmental impact of leather production is undeniable, as even responsibly sourced leather can leave behind a small carbon footprint. To that end, IWC has pioneered a new paper-based strap comprising 80 per cent natural plant fibres called TimberTex.
Synthetic leather is often held up as a viable alternative to animal leather, but the use of plastic and petroleum in its production often negates any benefits. TimberTex, on the other hand, relies on traditional papermaking techniques for its production and uses natural plant-based dyes. The cellulose used in TimberTex also comes from Forest Stewardship Council-certified trees grown in sustainably and responsibly managed forests.
Franziska Gsell, Chief Marketing Officer and Sustainability Committee Chair of IWC, pointed to the manufacture's philosophy of innovation and responsible watchmaking as the driving force behind this new development. "From our formative years, using hydropower provided by the River Rhine, to our early adoption of titanium, ceramics and the creation of Ceratanium, our pursuit of innovation has yielded remarkable advances. Naturally, we wanted to apply this same pioneering spirit to finding further high-quality alternatives for our clients who don’t wear animal leather," she explained.
While most animal leather strap alternatives tend to be stiff and uncomfortable, IWC's TimberTex options come padded with recycled microfibre that makes it easier for the material to conform to the wrist. It is also water-resistant and can even withstand limited exposure to water. Currently, IWC offers its TimberTex straps in blue, brown and black, and are designed to complement the current collection of Portugeiser Chronograph, Portugeiser Automatic 40, Portofino Automatic and Portofino Chronograph timepieces.
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