Time for an eco-friendly watch?

Some of the more eco-friendly watch materials being embraced by sustainably-minded watchmakers include recycled steel, bioceramic and cork

Four Swatch watches in pink, blue, black and white against a background with leaves on
The Swatch Big Bold Bioceramic collection
(Image credit: Swatch)

Watchmakers have long been fascinated by materials and the design and technical possibilities they hold. Now, more sustainable options are also tempting some brands, which have been experimenting with everything from ceramic to bark, creating a new breed of more eco-friendly watch. Here are three tempting timepieces from the new guard working to improve sustainability in the industry. 


Shiny black Rado watch in ceramic

(Image credit: Rado)

Rado has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to experimenting with materials, with its light and colourful ceramic collections both technically accomplished and appealingly design-led. Now, its Captain Cook watch collection has for the first time been crafted from high-tech ceramic, the hypoallergenic and scratch-resistant material Rado has long championed. The new Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic is available in four versions, including in gleaming all-black. 



Swatch watch in white and blue made from recycled plastic and ceramic

(Image credit: Rado)

Swatch’s latest launch, the Big Bold Bioceramic, is made from one-third ceramic and two-thirds bio-sourced plastic in a sustainably minded design. It builds on a collection made from bio-sourced plastic – created from a base of castor seeds – that launched last year, and sees the material mixed with ceramic for a silky, strong finish. The natural result can be seen in the white model, while the four other models feature added pigment to create the familiar, cheerfully bright Swatch hues. The bioceramic’s thermal properties mean it quickly adapts to the temperature of your body and is light to wear, making it a natural choice for use in all Swatch’s main product lines – something the company plans on actioning by the end of the year. 



Brown Skagen watches in cork and bark

(Image credit: Skagen)

Skagen’s new collection of watches, Aaren Naturals, is deliberately Earth-friendly, with each component carefully considered for its sustainability. Stainless steel is partly recycled, and in place of leather there is Mulberry bark, cork and apple-based alternatives. ‘Skagen is a brand influenced by Danish design, and we often look to Denmark for inspiration with the progressive steps it has made when it comes to sustainability,’ says chief brand officer Steve Evans. ‘Our teams are working diligently to transform our processes from sourcing to design, for a greater, more sustainable future. We are excited to share more on our sustainability efforts in the coming months.’ 



Solar panels in a circular shape in the sky

(Image credit: press)

Not a producer of watches, but a supplier of recyled and recyclable steel to manufacturers, Panatere is a key player in a more sustainable watchmaking future. The Swiss company is working to create sustainable raw materials for use in both the watch and medical industries, with manufacturing processes that are almost carbon neutral. Currently, Panatere produces 50 tonnes of fully recycled and recyclable steel annually; by working with a local solar furnace, it hopes to quadruple this output and also hugely lower the carbon footprint that traditionally comes with steel production. 


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.