Choosing ethical watches is a decision that makes a statement about who you are, and what your values are. You don’t want to be the person wearing something that comes from questionable origins or was put together by underpaid workers in unsafe conditions. On the other hand, you also have to find a watch with a style that fits your personality and budget. This blog post will help you do just that!
The best way to find a great ethical watch is to start with the materials that it’s made from. You want to make sure that the metal is sourced responsibly and does not contain any trace amounts of conflict minerals or gems. The watch industry uses a lot of gold and diamonds, and many brands aren’t able to confirm where their materials come from. Mining raw materials can cause substantial environmental damage such as water pollution, soil erosion and deforestation.
Ideally, the watch’s face will be made from scratch-resistant glass or crystal. This is because you want to avoid any movement of toxic materials into your skin when it comes in contact with sweat and oils on your hands. The most versatile watches are also water-resistant so that they can stay safe at the bottom of the pool. However, it’s quite hard to find ethical watches that you can swim with, so make sure you double-check that the specs are right for you before you dive in.
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1. JORD Wooden Watches
These watches are made from high-quality, sustainable wood. They have a minimalist feel that’s perfect for both work and play! The natural look of the materials is also wonderfully versatile. Jord watches are splash proof, it’s not recommended to submerge them in water completely as it can compromise the integrity of the wood.
When it comes to design Jord creates beautiful timepieces, built around sustainability and perfect for modern living. These watches are made for people who don’t just have somewhere to be, they have somewhere to go.
Jord/s ethically crafted watches are hand-sanded, polishes and come with a Citizen Miyota Battery-powered Movement and a crystal scratch-resistant watch face.
Jord’s is made from sustainably sourced woods.
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2. Nordgreen Watches
Nordgreen creates watches that are as sustainable and ethical as possible, so you can be sure of what your purchase means. In the Nordics, design works hand in hand with functionality, comfort and style. As a company Nordgreen is committed to doing better every day, securing the future for the generations to come.
Nordgreen watches are powered by a Miyota Caliber Japan Movement and come with an anti-reflective sapphire crystal face. Their watches are splashproof and not suitable for showering or swimming.
The company is involved in a range of environmental and community projects, for example, their ‘Giving Back programme’ supports the principles of health, education and sustainability. It’s a brand of purpose with giving back at it’ core.
All materials, sourcing and transporting are considered. They look for the most sustainable materials and logistics to ensure full transparency of their environmental impact. And the packaging? It’s all made of recycled paper and plastic bottles.
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3. Votch Watches
Votch is a company that’s set on changing the watch industry and ensuring sustainable practices. They’re cruelty-free and passionate about animal welfare, inspired to make a difference by the toxic practices in the leather industry. Their founder Laura wanted to create a company that does better.
Built on a simple value, doing the best you can do, Votch is striving to do better and create better products that have a small environmental footprint and don’t harm animals. With every new purchase on their website, they plant a mangrove tree, an incredible carbon sink that stabilises the soil in Madagascar. These wonderous trees also provide habitat for local wildlife and a livelihood for villagers.
Their products are Peta approved and vegan. They work with innovative materials like Piñatex, made from the pineapple plant and AppleSkin, made from residual apple juice fibres. If that doesn’t impress you then we’re not exactly sure what will.
When it comes to giving back they partner with a different charity every three months and donate 10% of their profits during this time.
These watches are ethically and sustainably sourced, the company is committed to ethical practices which include fair wages for its employees. Ksana watches are 100% vegan and cruelty-free and made in a factory powered by solar power. They recycle both waste and water wherever possible.
When it comes to the packaging they chose to create the majority of their materials out of cardboard and recycled materials. The boxes are made so beautifully that you’ll be bound to upcycle them into something a bit special.
The straps are made of silicone, a hard-wearing material that will last for many years. It’s also lightweight, conveniently waterproof and non-scratch. Because the silicone won’t decompose they offer a recycling programme, so you can send your strap back to them. The returned straps are then repurposed into solar panel parts as it withstands extreme weather and temperatures.
What about giving back? They are part of the 1% for the planet alliance and donate 1% of sales to environmental projects.
With the fun and vibrant designs, these ethical watches are very well priced too. They are elegant yet bold and bound to put a smile on your face.
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Solios, a certified B corporation, was built on sustainable principles. Their goal is simply to prove it’s possible to create sustainable accessories with beautiful designs. They put nature at the heart of everything they do from their sourcing process right through to designing the products.
Solios watches are solar powered and made to last a lifetime. Part of the slow fashion movement, you can easily invest in their classic design that will stand the test of time. Their solar technology means that you can save more than 20 batteries in a single lifetime.
No need to worry about single-use plastic when it comes to packaging as all their packaging is beautifully recyclable or made with recycled materials.
The designs are elegant, truly beautiful and the range includes both men’s and woman’s ethical watches. Materials include silicone-based “leather” and cork, not rubber.
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6. Vestiaire Collective
Vestiaire Collective is a luxury online marketplace for pre-owned designer watches and other designer things. They are fighting fashion waste by giving a second life to designer wear.
The current trend of wearing clothing only once or throwing it out with the tags still on create a lot of waste. That’s why buying pre-loved and vintage is such an incredibly sustainable idea.
You’ll find that the Vestiaire team are made up of fashion activists that believe in doing business for good. They’re also in the process of becoming a Certified B Corporation to ensure they balance profit, people and the planet.
Which brands can you find at Vestiaire? Guess, Burberry, Armani, Michael Kors and Fendi to name just a few. To fully appreciate their collection you’ll need to see it for yourself.
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TIVC watches are vegan and cruelty-free, they use microfiber leather made from recycled materials. The leather bands are super comfortable to wear, lightweight and durable. Over time the leather will naturally darken, avoiding contact with water, perfumes moisture and cosmetics will keep your watch looking wonderful.
You don’t have to worry about toxicity either as you won’t find toxic substances here. As a company, TIVC is constantly striving to produce more ethical and environmentally friendly products from beginning to end.
When it comes to ethics TIVC watches are made in an SA8000 certified factory in Hong Kong that employs 150 staff. The certification helps to ensure workers are treated fairly and working conditions are safe.
TIVC makes classically elegant ethical watches, beautifully designed and truly timeless. Inside you’ll find a swiss Ronda movement and the watch faces are anti-scratch sapphire crystal.
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Plantwear is a watch, jewellery and accessories brand that believes in sustainability, recycling and saving the planet. The end result is an ethical, stylish watch that you can feel good about wearing. Their products are created and carefully crafted in Poland, with their workshop located in Radzyń Podlaski.
They don’t necessarily have a fancy brand idea behind them, instead, they focus on honesty and great products that customers will love. That’s why you won’t find slogans or bold statements or carefully crafted brand messaging. People are the most important part of Plantwear.
We love that they are constantly evolving and developing both their range and products. Your watch will also come with a 100-day returns/exchange policy and a 24-month warranty, giving you peace of mind throughout.
As these watches are wooden, we won’t recommend submerging them in water fully as that could damage the wood.
If you’re looking for something very unique or a gift for a car enthusiast then REC is definitely a brand to check out. REC gets super creative with salvaged or recycled parts from old cars that are beyond repair. They’ve named their company after the concept, recover, recycle, reclaim or just REC.
Each watch is unique as the recycled materials and dials will vary in colour and each watch has its own story to tell. A true conversation-starting timepiece.
REC was started in 2014 by two Danish designers and long time friends. In 2015 they charmed 4 out of 5 investors on Shark Tank and we can see why. They blend distinctive design with subtle references to classic cars and even planes, all handmade with premium components.
If you can’t afford a Porche 911 or sensibly won’t buy one for environmental reasons, but still love the car then get yourself a REC watch instead!
10. Dan & Mez
Dan & Mes was started by two Austrian blokes who met in a bar, both sipping Pina Coladas not beer… This got them talking and they realised they are both interested in veganism and fair fashion. Great minds think alike, right?
A few days later they met up again to talk about fashion, leather and how much potential there was for change. We can all see where this story is going. In the end, they started a premium watch label with eco-friendly vegan straps.
Fast forward a couple of years and they have started a movement with an army of vegan Instagram influencers who love their ethical watches. They are on a long term mission to change the leather industry for good and with new developments in pineapple, mushroom and cork we’re excited about what the future may hold.
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Ethical Watches – What to look out for
When it comes to ethical watch companies it’s important to look at how they use and source raw materials, their labour practices and their commitment to people and the planet.
As with fashion, some brands manufacture in third world countries where working conditions can be poor and wages unfairly low. Brands that manufacture in developed countries are likely to be more responsible when it comes to workers as this is a legal requirement within developed nations. For those brands that manufacture in developing countries, always double-check their labour practices to make sure you’re buying a product that doesn’t harm workers.
Sourcing of material
Sustainable sourcing and production are important. Metals can be especially damaging thanks to the environmental impact of mining. But when it comes to ethical watches there will usually be some form of metal component to the product. Diamonds can be particularly problematic and so can exotic woods as they can be responsible for deforestation. So always double-check where the components for a product comes from and if you can look for sourcing policies that work with conflict-free practices.
As an added bonus, many companies participate in a range of environmental initiatives such as 1% for the planet. Even though these initiatives are a good indicator of caring for people and the planet, it’s not always foolproof. But when it comes to choosing ethical watches and ethical brands overall, doing your research and buying the best you can afford is a good start. On the other hand, the most sustainable watch is no watch at all, but if you have to then yes buy responsibly.