Monday, December 11, 2023

Leonardo DiCaprio Invests In Sustainable Watchmaker ID Genève


Leonardo DiCaprio is putting his financial might behind ID Genève, a Swiss watch company with a strong sustainability focus, as part of a $2 million Seed funding round.

ID Genève, Switzerland’s first luxury watch brand to receive B Corp certification, is known for its eco-conscious practices, such as using recycled and reused materials to produce its luxury timepieces.

DiCaprio, who has backed a number of eco brands including popular sneaker company Løci, Polestar, and Champagne Telmont, said ID Genève is “disrupting the luxury watch industry” and “championing ethically sourced and recycled materials and low-carbon footprint processes in a circular economy.” While the company has kept the exact figure of DiCaprio’s investment under wraps, it did reveal that several Swiss family offices were involved in its initial financing round.

Nicolas Freudiger, who co-founded ID Genève in late 2020 and serves as its CEO, is optimistic about the investment’s impact on his company. “In every industry, at some point, there are inflection points where a new technology or new brand becomes more interesting than others,” Freudiger told the Financial Times.

Freudiger conceded that the $2 million seed money “is a small amount in the luxury watch industry,” but is confident that, combined with DiCaprio’s backing, it will allow his company to form partnerships and gain momentum. Kesah Trowell, the head of sustainability for Watches of Switzerland Group, expressed enthusiasm about the actor’s involvement, saying it would “shine a bright light on sustainable innovation within the watchmaking world and contribute to ID Genève’s long-term success.”

ID Genève watch
Courtesy ID Genève

The funds raised will be directed towards an innovative project coined the “ID Lab.” Freudiger said that the investment will be structured through convertible notes, a debt that will automatically be turned into equity in two years based on the company’s market valuation at that time. The lab aims to collaborate with others in the watch industry to foster sustainable practices and materials.

Damian Oettli, who oversees markets at WWF Switzerland, praised the label. “We like ID Genève very much,” Oettli commented, “They’re doing a great job and have a holistic perspective on sustainability. They also have B Corp certification, a framework that’s quite progressive.”

As of now, ID Genève watches are available in Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom. They are priced starting at £3,700 and can also be found in Watches of Switzerland stores. Eighty percent of ID Genève’s sales come from its e-commerce platform, and Freudiger anticipates closing the year with approximately 600 watches sold.

While ID Genève has pioneered low-carbon initiatives—like crafting watch cases from waste material melted in a solar furnace—DiCaprio calls for more from the industry. “Sustainability should be a core value at any company,” the actor urged. “ID Genève’s pioneering efforts in this space are something I hope other companies take note of and continue to grow over time.”

Earlier this year, football giant Cristiano Ronaldo backed Chrono24, a platform for pre-owned watches. In 2021, Michael Jordan and Chris Paul backed WatchBox, the leading luxury resale watch platform.

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