We can all agree that a mechanical watch is a very 'green' item; it's powered by either the movements of the wearers wrist, or by the act of manually winding a mainspring. There's not too many other things as energy efficient as that. Though its more modern counterpart, the quartz watch, does have some waste involved [old batteries]...all in all they too are not that bad for the environment.
But what about manufacturing watches? Is that process harmful?....
Switzerland has done many things legislatively to make the production of watches more friendly to the earth, they have their ducks pretty much in order and do a fine job of utilizing already available green power when they can. Where the question has come up more and more is in China [you're not surprised, right?]. Like it or not China's watchmaking industry has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past 5 to 7 years. They have always produced mechanical and quartz watches but now we have seen improvement in movement quality and overall construction, and it's only getting better every day. As you can imagine even their watch manufacturing facilities are probably emitting loads of carbon [think about all of the case manufacturing, smelting, and the petroleum based power they use to do so].
As evidenced by the recent G8 Summit it seems pretty plausible that China and India [two of the world's largest carbon emitters] are not going to budge any time soon with reducing emissions from their manufacturing process. The other nations in the G8 were greeted with comments similiar to: "Well you guys got to produce and pollute for decades...So why can't we?" As much as I understand that logic; generally using the tactics of a 7 year old rarely work. So here we sit, with an invisible wall in our way.
I, for one, welcome China further into the watch industry, and am very excited to see what they could do...but as a whole they need to understand that if you want to eventually be in the same league as the world's most popular manufacturers there are certain responsibilities that need to be under taken...just one of which is to leave as little a footprint on the eather as possible. [and don't even get me started on the other things they need work on...]
HERE is the article that influenced this post.