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Paving the Way for Conservation

By Lynette Kee

A member of the Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition at Khumbu Icefall, Mount Everest.
 
A member of the Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition at Khumbu Icefall, Mount Everest.

The constant deterioration of the environment has led to growing numbers of ecologically concerned consumers becoming mindful of their purchases. The expectations of consumers, compounded by the scrutiny of social media, have put brands under a microscope — their reputation relative to their efforts in transparency and contribution to a healthy planet. From metal straws to sustainable practices among fashion brands, the industry is experiencing a shift through a commitment to minimise its impact as a business and to affect its community positively. While it is no easy feat, there is certainly a silver lining.

In conversation with Forbes magazine, Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer of the Reputation Institute said, “This is the first time we’ve seen this significant a group of people (52 per cent of consumers) being so undecided about any given company. They’re saying, ‘Give me a good reason to believe you are trying to do the right thing.’ ” That is to say that despite the new generation’s expectations, more than half of the consumer population are keeping an open mind. And brands that are consistent in their responsible endeavours will eventually emerge among other brands who have yet to define their respective cause.

With that said, Rolex’s reputation has always been aligned with its emotional and aspirational aspects of the brand, which explains it topping the rankings under the Reputation Index for four consecutive years, according to Forbes. For a timeless brand of exceptional material value, Rolex was never one to restrict itself to only its horological innovations. Whether it’s an heirloom or a celebration of a milestone, Rolex watches represent emotional points in one’s life, as presented in its “Every Rolex Tells a Story” campaign. This year, Rolex is launching a campaign titled Perpetual Planet. For a start, Rolex anchors this campaign with three main pillars: The study of the impacts of climate change — a fruit reaped from their long-time partnership with National Geographic Society since 1954, Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue initiative to safeguard the oceans through a network of marine protected “Hope Spots”, as well as the Rolex Awards for Enterprise that recognise individuals with projects that advance knowledge and protect human well-being and the environment.

Dr Sylvia Earle photographed by David Doubilet.
Dr Sylvia Earle photographed by David Doubilet.

In the beginning, Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, saw the world as a living laboratory. He began using it as a testing ground for his watches from the 1930s, lending support to explorers venturing to the ends of the earth. From its first milestone of witnessing Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest, to the depths of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the ocean, these historic expeditions saw every groundbreaking advancement to the Rolex watches that accompanied them.

“As the 21st century unfolds, exploration for pure discovery has given way to exploration as a means to preserve the natural world,” said Rolex in a statement, as they continue to support exploration while extending their efforts to conservation. In striving towards its new goal, Rolex enhanced its partnership with the National Geographic Society while tapping on what it does best — cutting edge technology — to discover the answers to an impactful climate and environmental change. The idea is a three-pronged system with Earth as the main source: mountains as the world’s water towers, the rainforests as the planet’s lungs, and the oceans, its cooling system.

Mount Everest, the world's highest point above sea level, was chosen as the site for Rolex’s first Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition.
Mount Everest, the world's highest point above sea level, was chosen as the site for Rolex’s first Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition.

Rolex’s first Perpetual Planet Extreme Expedition to restore the Earth, which began in April this year, started right from the top: on Mount Everest, a nod to Hillary's and Norgay's successful ascend to the highest peak of the Himalayas. According to National Geographic, the increasing global temperature spells an enormous cataclysm for the Greater Himalaya and the water resource to its million-over inhabitants. Even with optimistic expectations, where the global community were to meet with the most ambitious carbon-reduction goals laid out by the Paris Agreement, National Geographic warns that approximately 10,000 glaciers will disappear by the end of the century.

Mount Everest is now equipped with the highest weather station in the world, at 8,412 metres above sea-level, built by a team of six scientist, climbers and explorers. This mammoth task, supplemented with difficulty and challenges, is a worthwhile effort that has opened the doors for scientists to gather additional data for more pressing phenomena and in time, make informed decisions to protect the region.

Filmmaker James Cameron received congratulations after he ascends the Mariana Trench in 2012.
Filmmaker James Cameron received congratulations after he ascends the Mariana Trench in 2012.

Making up a part of the 'Perpetual Planet' campaign is the extension of pioneer marine biologist, Dr Sylvia Earle's Mission Blue initiative. This initiative sees her leading communities towards protecting the ocean and marine species through a network of marine protected areas called “Hope Spots”. With the support of Rolex since 2014, the number of hope spots has increased from 50 to 112, which translates to 8 per cent of the ocean. This endeavour will continue in years to come with the aim of protecting 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

For nearly a century, Rolex has kept the values of its founder in sight — supporting pioneering explorers through their extreme ventures. With the Perpetual Planet campaign, Rolex is committed to support the explorers in their quest to protect the environment and shape a healthier world for the future.