Plastic isn't usually a material most watchmakers clamor to be associated with. But when it's used for a good reason, plastic can suddenly look a whole lot more attractive and meaningful. It's one of the most interesting and unexpected recent trends in watches: recovering polluting plastic debris from the oceans and recycling it for use in watches — and even high-end Swiss brands are getting in on the action.
Watch brands are regularly involved in charitable and sustainability activities, and with the popularity of dive watches, it's no surprise that many brands look toward the ocean for their charity of choice. Many of the watches you see here are made with material from the Swiss company Tide Ocean Material, which collects ocean plastic specifically from the Andaman Sea in South East Asia with regional partners and processes it in Switzerland using solar energy.
There are various ways in which brands' work can contribute to or highlight ocean conservancy, but combining these efforts with advances in watchmaking materials makes it feel more tangible to the consumer. Little watches might not be using a lot of ocean plastic, but every bit counts and such initiatives at least help raise awareness.
Watch brands might be genuinely good-hearted, but they probably wouldn't make such watches if you didn't want to buy them (or at least hear about them). Besides, if you feel a little guilty buying a product you don't need — such as a watch — a sense that you're contributing to something positive might help you pull the trigger. These watches also often have unique designs to highlight their unique material — and there's nothing like a watch with a good story and some character.
Watchmakers like Oris, Breitling and others have incorporated recycled ocean plastic into straps and packaging, but the watches below stand out for going all the way and offering full watch cases made from the material.