Vollebak, a company at the core of sustainable clothing innovation, targets time itself with a new prototype, the Garbage Watch.

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a watch with an orange band and square face. the face of the watch includes colorful mechanical parts.

While the Garbage Watch’s name may sound questionable, it fits given that the watch uses materials that would otherwise end up in the dump. Specifically, the Garbage Watch upcycles electronic waste such as motherboards and scrap computer parts and turns them into a functional watch. 

Related: This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change

a watch with an orange band and square face, laid out diagonally. the face of the watch includes colorful mechanical parts.

“Today, most of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste that’s generated every year is treated like garbage even though it isn’t. Instead it contains many of the world’s precious metals, like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium and zinc. You’ll find 7% of the world’s gold in e-waste. In other words, millions of tonnes of the stuff people normally pay to dig up out of the ground is heading straight back into it,” the company says on its website.

a close-up of the face of a watch with an orange band and square face. the face of the watch includes colorful mechanical parts.

Vollebak worked on the project in collaboration with the Wallpaper* Re-Made project. Although currently in prototype form, the watch will launch in 2021. A waiting list has already formed for those with an early interest.

a watch with an orange band and square face. the watch is surrounded by recycled electronic parts.

Steve Tidball, Vollebak co-founder, explains how the project came together, saying, “To avoid trashing our own planet, we need to start figuring out how to re-use the stuff we already have. So our Garbage Watch started with a very simple idea. What if electronic waste isn’t garbage? What if it’s simply pre-assembled raw materials that we can use to make new things. That’s why everything you can see on the Garbage Watch used to be something else – a motherboard from your computer, a microchip in your smartphone, or wiring from your TV.”

a side-view of a watch with an orange band and square face. the watch is surrounded by recycled electronic parts.

Of course, the Garbage Watch design tackles more than just recycling e-waste; it’s about function as well as fashion. With that in mind, the team gave the watch a unique, conversation-starting design. 

a close-up of the face of a watch that includes colorful mechanical parts.

As Nick Tidball, Vollebak co-founder, said, “We’ve taken an ‘inside-out’ design approach with the Garbage Watch, making the functional inner workings highly visible…Our aim was to reframe an often invisible and hazardous end of the supply chain, and make people think deeply about the impact of treating their wearables in a disposable manner.”

+ Vollebak

Images via Vollebak/Sun Lee