No time for waste: Oris’ collaboration with a leather manufacturer recycles deer skins

Deer skins make for sustainable watch straps in a partnership between Oris and Cervo Volante

Big Crown Pointer Date watch
(Image credit: Neil Godwin )

Deer skins are given a new lease of life by Zurich-based leather manufacturer Cervo Volante, who have partnered with Swiss mechanical watch brand Oris on straps for the Big Crown Pointer Date timepieces.

Cervo Volante’s founders, biotechnology engineer Kadri Vunder Fontana and biologist Conny Thiel-Egenter, were keen to find a use for the natural by-products of the 15,000 wild red deer annually culled in Switzerland, part of a legal and regulated process to manage its deer population and protect the Swiss countryside. In the past, most of these skins have been wasted; the company now transforms them into leather products that do not involve animal breeding or factory farming.

The watch straps for Oris are vegetable-tanned by Switzerland’s two remaining tanneries, and celebrate natural imperfections rather than pursuing flawless finishes.

‘Leather from wild red deer is not a mass product, and every leather is unique and tells its own story,’ says Thiel-Egenter. ‘Scratches, scrapes, stitches and bumps in the leather give our products this exciting imperfection. It’s also one of the most sustainable leathers on the market: there’s no animal breeding, no factory farming, no climate impact, and no over-fertilisation of meadows. All our leather is 100 per cent vegetable tanned by the two last remaining tanneries in Switzerland, without chrome and without synthetic pre- tanning agents. And if we didn’t use these skins, they’d be burned – a terrible waste.’

‘Cervo Volante refines hunting waste from red deer and transforms it into beautiful, long-lasting and ecological shoes and accessories,’ Fontana adds. ‘Our vision is inspired by our love of nature and wanting our children to be able to experience nature as we do. We want to inspire our customers to approach luxury with an appetite for sustainability, and to become role models for the fashion industry, encouraging them to see waste from other industries as raw material, and to take responsibility for the value chain from beginning to end, as if it were their own backyard.’

Three watches in new colours, each with a gradient dial inspired by Alpine landscapes, mark the beginning of what promises to be a long-term partnership.

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A version of this article appears in the August 2022 Design for a Better World issue of Wallpaper*, available from 14 July in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today (opens in new tab)

Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.

With contributions from