This watch heals itself: is Regenerative Carbon the future of watchmaking?

ID Genève and CompPair reveal the first self-healing watch, using Regenerative Carbon

Regenerative Carbon self-healing watch by ID Genève and CompPair
(Image credit: ID Geneve x CompPair)

Two Swiss companies, ID Genève and CompPair, have united to create a ‘self-healing watch’ – one crafted from a new, ‘healable’ material, called Regenerative Carbon. ID Genève's new Circular C collection has not only excited the industry since it was revealed, but has also hit the mainstream, with Leonardo DiCaprio announced as a personal investor in the brand.

So how does the watch heal itself? A dial, side decorations, and bezel are made from fully recycled carbon fibre, sourced from wind-turbine-manufacturing waste, a material that returns to its like-new condition after being heated for a minute, ensuring super-fast repair.

Here, we speak to Nicolas Freudiger, CEO of ID Genève, and Amael Cohades, CEO of CompPair, who give an insight into the process.

The self-healing watch from CompPair + ID Genève: the new Regenerative Carbon 

self-healing watch from CompPair + ID Genève

(Image credit: ID Geneve x CompPair)

Wallpaper*: Why did you want to work together on this material?

Nicolas Freudiger and Amael Cohades: We met at the changeNOW summit in Paris in 2023, the world’s largest event where impactful changemakers get together to identify and discuss solutions for the planet. We quickly realised that we shared the same values and that there were strong potential synergies between us. We're Swiss and based just a few kilometres away from each other in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva. 

At CompPair, it all started with a simple observation: it is more beneficial to the planet to reduce waste than to recycle it. Our aim is to extend the life of composite materials. At ID Genève, we manufacture fully upcycled watches but the ambition goes much deeper than that: it’s about becoming a platform for start-ups to innovate and propose concrete solutions for the planet. Our watches can become a showcase for all the possible and how they can be applied to other industries. 

This new material, Regenerative Carbon, results in ten times lower CO2 emissions than virgin carbon fibres when working with recycled carbon fibres. This super-advanced material was inspired by nature and the human body (take the example of the human skin that can heal itself). It’s ideally suited to watches, which are often subject to small impacts and scratches, sensitive to damage and complex to repair. This makes a watch the perfect showcase for inspiring initiatives such as this one. 

W*: Can you tell us a bit about its properties? How is it self-healing? 

NF and AC: CompPair’s innovation is a composite material, composed of fibres embedded in a resin, which enables intrinsic ultra-fast repair. The process is extremely simple: when a structure built with our materials is damaged, you simply have to apply 100°C of heat directly to the surface for 1-2 minutes; the heat acts as a trigger to activate the healing properties. This process can be done repeatedly, whenever there is damage to the structure, be it scratches, delaminations, impacts. The properties of our materials are comparable with a standard composite material, with an increased toughness.

W*: What were the main challenges you encountered?

NF and AC: The composites industry presents high entry barriers, and both change and new solutions that might bear risks are usually faced with great resistance. It can be challenging to be recognised as a new materials supplier, especially when demonstrating properties, such as self-healing, which bring a paradigm change. However, in addition to demonstrated economic and ecological benefits, that’s what makes the difference, as with Regenerative Carbon. This is further underscored by the Solar Impulse Label, which recognises outstanding companies for their innovative sustainable solutions. Even though the industry recognises the need for more sustainable materials and processes, it rarely accepts trade-offs, for example in terms of higher costs or slight changes in manufacturing conditions. 

At CompPair, we make advanced materials. We have several product families, including Regenerative Carbon. We once faced a situation where a customer was exclusively interested in recycling. When we demonstrated the higher value in life-time extension, it became evident for him to start working with CompPair. We strongly believe we can have better products that last longer and at the same time create less waste.

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.