Nearly 50 million tons of waste is created each year by the electronics industry. That waste includes many precious metals like silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, aluminium, zinc, and even 7 per cent of the world’s gold. Rather than letting those resources go to waste, Vollebak is giving new life to those metals, along with other materials, to create the Garbage Watch—a watch literally made out of the stuff that other companies are throwing away.
The concept is simple enough—just take the pre-assembled raw materials that were previously used in other electronic devices and repurpose them into the watch. You’ll see things like a motherboard from a computer, a smartphone’s microchip, or wiring from an old TV. “To avoid trashing our own planet,” says Steve Tidball, Vollebak co-founder, “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.”
The project was done in collaboration with the Wallpaper Re-Made project, and true to the upcycling movement, the design is a menagerie of colours and items. The result is a striking design that will spark conversations on multiple levels. Tidball said the following regarding the looks of the watch: “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 the wearables in a disposable manner.”
Vollebak’s Garbage Watch is set to be released in 2021, but you can get on the waiting list now. Given the popularity of Vollebak, the purpose behind the watch, and the design itself, this is a watch that will go quickly.