ID Genève
The first luxury watch brand of the circular economy

New Luxury in watchmaking – Swiss made, stylish and sustainable

From dream into action in less than a year. Three young Swiss are shaking up their country’s luxury watch industry and proving with ID Genève that sustainable watch production is possible – with absolutely beautiful watches, by the way.

We talked to Nicolas Freudiger, co-founder of the Geneva-based watch brand, about the circular economy, a childhood friendship and an internationally well-known supporter of the trio.

»ID Genève deliberately stands for this new identity of luxury.«
New Swiss gold: the highest grade of stainless steel – recycled waste from the watch and medical equipment industry
If we have researched correctly, the story of ID Genève actually began at the “Baselworld” watch fair, right?

Well, kind of. Cédric and I got to know Singal at Baselworld through mutual friends. When we started talking, we suddenly realized, that we had a pretty similar vision of the future of the watch industry and, above all, the same canon of values. In Singal, we also finally got to know a watch designer who leads a truly ecologically balanced life in the real world beyond the luxury-bubble of the watch world. It was a really good fit right from the start.

And how did you meet Cédric, the watchmaker in your trio, in the first place?

We’ve known each other since we were four years old (smiles) and grew up together in Geneva. When we were both about 14 years old, we decided to set up our own watch brand one day. Cédric then did an apprenticeship at Vacheron Constantin at a very early age and went his own way, first of all.

This is Cédric, (obviously) the watchmaker of the co-founder trio ...
Circular 1 - Mineral Silver
Circular S – Pink
… your professional career started with a degree at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, the elite university of the hotel industry …

That’s right. That was a wonderful foundation for me to be able to focus on service, customer centricity and all the important entrepreneurial skills. Ultimately, however, I have always spent almost every minute of my free time to dive into the world of watches. This not only led to the obligatory visit to the most important watch fairs, but also to an internship at Chronoswiss and Gerd-Rüdiger Lang in Munich a long time ago, for example.

When did the dream of founding your own watch brand finally materialise into ID Genève?

That was in the summer of 2019, when I was working at Coca Cola Switzerland in Zurich. I resigned, went back to Geneva and brought first Cédric and then Singal on board to finally get started. At the time, I had also completed a further training course in the context of the circular economy, and it had become just obvious to me that this was the only way that sustainable entrepreneurship could be applied consistently. From production to service, to marketing and beyond.

The Circular S
The packaging is crafted from seaweed and plants ...
... the magic trick: immersed in water, it turns into plant fertiliser
Singal Depéry, Co-Founder and Watch Designer
Singal Depéry, Co-Founder and Designer
A rather complex challenge for the watch and luxury industry …

Of course, but also an absolutely necessary one! If you really take the scientific findings on climate change seriously, the next step automatically leads to circular economy. So, we have asked ourselves how luxury needs to be redefined in order to continue to have a raison d’être in the future.

The Circular C by day
... and by night.
Sorry, sold out!
Circular S - Sun
Circular 1 – Mineral Black
What do you think is the key aspect?

While luxury in the past always tried to create a nebulous mystique with a lot of marketing, we are primarily concerned with transparency as the basis for all our actions. “ID” in ID Genève deliberately stands for this new identity of luxury, which we want to shape and also show that this path is not only sensible, but also actually feasible. We show what we do, who we co-operate with on the supplier side and where the money goes.

Was the supplier industry well prepared for your ambitious goals right from the start?

Let’s take stainless steel as an example. As a rule more or less, the material used in the industry comes from China or Japan and, apart from the ecological impact, cannot always meet the highest quality standards if you look closely. It took intensive research on our part to obtain high-quality stainless steel from European production.

In 2019, we came across the Swiss company Panatere, which was prepared to set up a regional collection network for steel from the watch and medical equipment industry and recycle the highest grade of stainless steel (4441) from it. The entire process, from collection to melting, therefore only takes place within a radius of 200 kilometers, an aspect which is also part of consistent management within the framework of the circular economy.

Recycling facility in Reconvilier, Jura
Cédric Mulhauser, Co-Founder and COO
Nicolas Freudiger, Co-Founder and CEO
One of the best-known supporters of your vision is Leonardo DiCaprio. How did the cooperation come about?

From the very beginning, I told our team that we should build ID Genève so consistently and ambitiously that in 10 to 15 years’ time, people like Leo would consciously buy our watches and enjoy wearing them. That was always a very personal vision of ours, which I also mentioned in a New York Times interview. When my very own statement finally appeared in the newspaper before my eyes, I decided to take my chances and get in touch with him.

Surely not an easy endeavour!?

It was a lot of work and required persistence, but that suits me (smiles).

A supporter with his ID Genève (Credits: Dimitrios Kambouris)
What do the next twelve months look like for ID Genève?

Now that we have secured our current investment framework, we clearly want to occupy and expand our claim to leadership in the field of eco-innovative watches. We also want to bring our watches into contexts where the watch industry is very rarely found.

For example, we are attending the “Change Now” sustainability summit in Paris in March and want to use our presence to show that the Swiss watch industry has begun to recognise its responsibility and take on an active role.

At the same time, we are continuing to develop the markets in which we are already represented and are, of course, gradually opening up new regions. It won’t be boring, we’ve only just got started (smiles).

Merci, Nico!

Join our Community