Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Truth Behind Wooden Watches: A look at the eco-friendly watch market

Happy almost October! It's been a while since I had a chance to hop onto my bloggie. I'm very excited to present to you a guest post by Melissa Long, a graduate from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and a young professional in the horology industry.

The Truth Behind Wooden Watches

Wooden timepieces have been growing in popularity for quite a few years now. Working with wood in watch casings and bands is not easy. Wood, unlike metal or plastic, does not machine easily. It breathes with the weather, absorbing moisture from the air which swells the grain. In an area of micro-precision such as watchmaking, this throws up some particular problems. Watchmakers, however, are craftsman. They love a challenge. Rather than say “We can’t”, they think “How can we?”. As Terry Pratchett writes in Thief of Time:

“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So you think before you break ‘em”.
As a consequence, there are now some beautiful and practical time pieces available on the market.
Crafting wooden watches may be fun for watchmakers, but the market wouldn’t have expanded to size it has without demand. When cheap, reliable and proven alternatives are available, why buy a wooden watch? There are a multitude of reasons, but the main two are as follows: sustainability and style.

The Wooden Watch Trend

 Almost a quarter of consumers are swaying towards more expensive products that have an eco-agenda and 9/10 millennials would purchase a product over another if its purpose supported a cause.
Most plastic is a derivative of the oil industry, while metals come from the mining business. Both areas are notorious for being harmful to local ecosystems and the planets wellbeing as a whole. Creating watches from a sustainable alternative, such as responsibly farmed wood, reduces the impact these industries as a whole and contributes to a reduction in an individual’s personal carbon footprint. In an era of expendable material wealth where consumers throw away non-recyclable plastic or metal goods regularly, having an ethically disposable wooden watch is a step towards carbon neutral material goods.
Now to the second reason: style. Watches come in all shapes and sizes to suit the individual and occasion. From large, flashy metal timepieces to sleeker, leather strapped efforts, there are watches for any eventuality. The wooden watch adds to the range of versatility in the watch department and fills a niche previously unfilled. Plastic and metal do not have grain, while every piece of wood has a distinctive grain pattern. This makes every wooden watch made, even if it’s from a produced range from a watchmaker, a unique look and feel. Combine this with the fact that wooden watches are still very much in the minority and you have yourself a winning combination for individuality in style.

Money Doesn’t Grows On Trees

Unsurprisingly there are a wide range of price options when it comes to the wooden watch market. When it comes to the lower end of the market, Jord have a variety of options, ranging from the Sully series ($139) up to the Cora series ($259). Every series Jord produce can be bought in various different wood and inlay combinations.
If you have a little more cash to spend, Salix Watches makes its watches, including the movement—even including a tourbillon—entirely out of wood. No other watchmaker in the world can claim this of their wooden watches. These incredible watches are 42 mm in diameter and fashioned out of bubinga and maple. Salix have to be directly contacted for a pricing, but the watches reportedly come in between $4000 - $5000. While a reasonably pricey buy, the sheer individuality, and craftsmanship of each watch means the produce is worth the money.

Are Wooden Watches Sustainable?

Wooden watches require a more delicate approach to watch cleaning and watch repair than more traditional plastic or metal watches due to the nature of the material. Doing any watch cleaning with the wrong chemicals or approach could irrevocably damage a wooden timepiece so it is advised you take it to a professional for the watch cleaning.
 A growing industry is the area of online watch repairs. Postage is generally secure and free and it is an alternative to the highly competitive pricing of traditional high street watchmakers. This kind of service is advised for wooden watches, as it will help you to avoid serious damage to your wooden, eco friendly timepiece.

Example from the Industry: The WeWood Watch Service

If watches are sustainable, to uphold that promise, the trees they are taken from need to be replenished/replanted. Let's look at one example of a watch service which offers wooden watches and stands up to their sustainability factor. WeWood designed their first timepiece six years ago in Florence, Italy (2010). Wooden watches at the time were gaining popularity but watch enthusiasts were craving something with was fashionable yet sustainable.  WeWood’s avant-garde approach have taken eco-friendly watches into a new era. WeWood produce wristwatches made from 100% natural and toxin free materials.  In recent years the brand has also announced a partnership with environmental organization American Forests. WeWood has joined forces with American Forests in a promise that they will plant one tree for every WeWood watch sold. In just the first three months of the project, WeWood planted 5,000 trees within American Forests. When you are looking for your wooden watch, be sure to investigate the brand and see if they are not only using a replenishable /sustainable resource, but that they are actually upholding that by replenishing the resource.

About the Author

Melissa is currently growing writing pieces on the luxury and tech watch market and contacted me to see if she could do a guest post. I myself had been interested in seeing what people have to say about wooden watches. ;)  During her time at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh - she was keen to get involved with environmentally friendly projects that would benefit the campus as a whole. Over the years, her love for fashion and accessories intertwined with her preference for sustainable goods. Now at 22 years old, is finding her feet in the blogging world and hopes to inspire those who may be investing in new accessories. "We may be living in the digital age, however, I believe that the smart watch phase is something that will never replace a timeless, mechanical piece."

Thanks for Reading,
Christine (+ Melissa)


  1. These watches and the ideas are beautiful.I love the history of the wooden watches.Great insights too.New fun on GFC keep writing .

  2. I love the design and the simplicity that the wooden watch has.
    bobo bird watch


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