None of us can get enough of it: time. Whether we’re snoozing our alarms, color-coding the Google calendar, or urgently feeding the dog when he whines at exactly 5 p.m. every day, time has a hold on us unlike anything else.
It makes sense you’d want to keep track of it. Some folks are happy using their phones or peeking at the clock on the wall, but when you’re on the go or looking for a stylish and practical item to add to your wardrobe, a watch is the way to go.
But you know us — we want to help you make ethical and sustainable purchases that you can depend on, all while doing the least damage to the planet in the process.
Before we jump into some recommendations on your watch-buying journey, we want to remind you that, as always, the best watch to wear is one you already have (maybe you just need to replace a battery on a watch that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand), or one you can buy second-hand. See if you can trade with a friend, stop by a pawn shop, or pick one up on your next thrift or garage sale adventure.
That being said, if you’re really in the market for a new, reliable watch, we’ve compiled a list to help you find the right fit. And we’ll provide a few insights into sustainable and ethical watch-making!
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
What makes a watch ethically or sustainably made?
When looking to buy an eco-friendly watch, you’ll want to keep your eye on the materials used, as well as the general ethos of the brand you’re shopping from.
Sustainable and ethical watches are often artisan or hand-made and use repurposed materials, reclaimed woods, or some toxin-free vegan leather alternatives. Watch bands play a big role in these considerations, as many watch brands move away from leather straps and into vegan, recycled, or other sustainable options.
You may also want to consider how the watch is powered. Can you recharge it by plugging it in? Is it solar-powered? Standard alkaline batteries are disposable and less sustainable (But you can recycle your batteries in a number of different ways — check out Call2Recycle for more info!)
Not every item you purchase can be perfect or leave no trace on the environment, so that’s why it’s also important to ensure you’re shopping with a reputable brand that cares about its labor and sustainability practices.
Look out for companies that give back to environmental organizations, who have carbon-neutral goals, practice equity and inclusion in their employment practices, and responsibly source their materials.
Our favorite ethical watches to shop:
The brands you see listed here are watches we’ve worn, tested, and reviewed ourselves. For many of them, the companies sent members of our team a watch to review for this article. Our reviews are always honest. Receiving free products for testing never impacts our writing — and brands don’t get any influence on our editorial process. We broke down our reviews based on the watch’s packaging, aesthetic, and quality to help you make the best decision.
Solar-powered watches from Solios
What’s good: For Solios, sustainability is at the core of the company’s values. It was the first watch company to become a certified B-corp, and all of their watches use solar energy. Not to mention, Solios uses an innovative cork approach to vegan leather, making all vegan leather watch bands free of rubbers and plastics.
Other recycled and sustainable materials, like recycled stainless steel, eco coloration, cork packaging, and zero single-use plastics. Solios has pledged net zero internal and external emissions by 2025. All employees make above the minimum family wage, and the company hosts monthly community environment projects for its staff.
The company also gives back with its partnerships with the Rainforest Trust and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Details: Kamrin received The Solar White watch, a 36 mm rose gold face with a cream vegan leather band made from cork materials. Like all of Solios’s watches, this watch is solar-powered and water resistant for up to 30 meters. It is made with sapphire-coated hardened mineral glass and can be recharged with natural and artificial light. You can also swap out this watch with interchangeable straps.
- Packaging: My watch came packaged in a sleek box, wrapped around a cork insert for protection. The box included all of the information I needed to know, had beautiful branding elements and was easy to recycle.
- Aesthetic: This watch is the perfect subtle accessory, especially since I selected neutral tones that work with the rest of my wardrobe. I like how shiny the face is and how comfortable and professional the vegan leather band is. I feel like I’ve elevated my whole aesthetic when I put it on!
- Quality: The quality of this watch is evident from the moment you open the packaging. The watch is lightweight but well-made, and the cork strap feels sturdy and supportive.
- Other Notes: That being said, the cork watch band will be a little stiff at the beginning. Just like a fancy pair of shoes, it’ll be broken in with time.
The Bradley Timepiece by Eone
What’s good: Eone makes watches that are uniquely functionally for blind and visually impaired people.
With raised hour markers and two magnetized ball bearings (one for the minute and one for the hour), users can run their fingers over the raised markers and ball bearings to check the time. Not only is this design inclusive to those with visual impairments, but it’s also discreet and works in the dark for everyone.
Dedicated to inclusive and functional design — and not at the expense of the environment — Eone’s Bradley collection reinvents the wristwatch so that all people can tell time.
Eone has also recently introduced its Relay program, which allows shoppers to trade in their existing timepieces to receive a $50 credit for a new watch. These items will be refurbished and either donated to a partner organization or sold under the Relay section of the company’s website.
Eone also partners with nonprofits The Seeing Eye and Kilimanjaro Blind Trust to promote accessibility and independence for everyone with visual impairments.
Details: The Bradley is made with well-sourced materials like stainless steel, ceramics, and Ronda quartz. It comes in both 36 and 40 mm (Branden got the 36 mm) and has an adjustable buckle. The watch uses a Renata 371 button cell battery and can withstand brief contact with water but is not intended to be submerged in water.
- Packaging: This watch was shipped and packaged in environmentally responsible paper-based packaging with no hint of plastic in sight. I audibly gasped as I unwrapped the packaging because of how gorgeous the unboxing experience was. I was especially drawn to the beautiful use of braille throughout the packaging and the accompanying booklet.
- Aesthetic: The unique drawing point of this watch is the two ball bearings that magnetically rotate to allow you to tell the time without sight, creating a really delightful experience whether you’re sighted or not. I love the look of the stainless steel and ceramics and the simplicity of the band.
- Quality: This quickly became my favorite watch to wear because of the heftiness of the materials. It feels substantial on your wrist and the materials feel really strong — which is a nice balance to the delicate experience of the two rotating ball bearings.
- Other Notes: My favorite thing about this watch is the story around it. The Bradley timepiece is named for former naval officer Bradley Snyder who lost his sight in 2011 while serving as a bomb diffuser in Afghanistan. He went on to win gold and silver medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
The folks at Eone created this watch — and other products — in collaboration with underrepresented users “to diminish unnecessary obstacles” and “create inclusive products that serve everyone.”
Solgaard’s Shoreline Watch
What’s good: Solgaard is a company dedicated to creating everyday items with a positive impact on the environment. With watches made from recycled plastics and polycarbonate that would otherwise end up in the ocean, the brand delivers to be plastic-negative and carbon-neutral.
Each purchase from Solgaard saves 229 plastic water bottles (or five pounds of plastic) from the ocean. At this time, 600,000 pounds of plastic have been diverted from the ocean for use in Solgaard’s goods. By 2023, the brand’s first visitor-friendly plastic reclamation site will be completed for innovative recycling and robust carbon capturing initiatives.
Solgaard uses third-party organizations to audit 100% of its factories, and all freight shipments have reached their carbon offset goals to achieve neutrality. The company also partners with Sungai Watch, Eco-Brick Project, and NextWave Plastics to further its impact through projects like river clean-ups, the building of an eco-brick facility, and joining a coalition of other recycled plastic manufacturers.
Details: Branden received a Shoreline Watch in the Laguna Lilac color way (uh, take us to the beach immediately, please). Made with “SHORE-PLAST” plastic that would otherwise end up in our oceans, a naturally biodegradable silicone strap, and mineral glass, the Shoreline Watch is 42 mm in size and is water resistant up to 50 meters.
Its hexagon watch face allows users to tell time easier, with six corners and six flat sides that make up the 12 hours on the watch.
- Packaging: I like that this watch ships with zero single-use plastic, but I especially love the gorgeous tin case the watch is actually packaged in. I could see myself leaving this on my dresser to store my watch when I’m not wearing it.
- Aesthetic: This watch is truly one-of-a-kind. It takes the aesthetics of a minimalist watch but adds the hexagonal shape to make it easy to tell the time quickly. Because the shape is bold, I chose to order a bold color too — though they have more “standard” colors as well if you want to dial it back a little.
- Quality: While this is among the lighter watches we reviewed, the quality is fantastic. The watch continues to hold up to everyday use and the strap shows no signs of wear or staining.
- Other Notes: I love the size of the watch on my wrist. It’s large enough to take up space without being so big it’s annoying. And the strap is really comfortable and lightweight. (Also, on an unrelated note: Wearing this watch is making me want to try out Solgaard’s gorgeous backpacks and luggage made from ocean-bound plastic.)
More places to buy ethical and eco-friendly watches:
TRIWA’s 2030-certified watches
What’s good: TRIWA is an acronym for Transforming the Industry of Watches, and the company aims to use watches as a vehicle for modern statements, instead of traditional status symbols. The company calls that it’s “time for change” and “transparency,” and is constantly innovating manufacturing methods to reduce its carbon emissions. In fact, each product features a specific calculation of its carbon footprint in its description.
TRIWA operates using the 2030 Calculator as a way to factor in all parts of its energy consumption and emissions for the lowest possible impact. Additionally, TRIWA was the first company to receive the 2030 Certification by Doconomy.
Details: TRIWA has a number of innovative designs, including a watch that can give you insights into your mood, solar-powered watches made from recycled materials, and a collection of watches assembled using completely recycled ocean plastics.
However, it was TRIWA’s Time For Peace watches that stopped us in our tracks. The Humanium watches are all made with the metal of destroyed illegal firearms with the aim of highlighting the issues of gun violence. For every watch sold, 15% of profits are given to conflict-torn societies and victims of gun violence. So far, TRIWA has donated over $100,000 to the cause.
The Humanium watches are made with Humanium metal and straps of various recycled materials, like PET canvas and vegetable-dyed leather. They come in 34 or 39 mm sizes and are water resistant for up to 50 meters.
Mondaine’s Essence watch collection
What’s good: Mondaine is known for its long-time Swiss watchmaking — now with a forward-thinking commitment to the planet’s future. Mondaine Watch Group uses a photovoltaic system (basically, fancy solar power) and hydroelectricity to meet the company’s annual energy needs.
Additionally, Mondaine recycles its production waste materials through strict separation and collection practices. Through its efforts, the company saves around 77 tons of CO2 emissions each year, making it carbon-neutral. Mondaine also adheres to Swiss labor practices, ensuring employee wages are above average.
Details: Mondaine’s Essence watch collection is made with high-quality, recycled, and renewable materials, like recycled PET bottles, a cork lining, castor bean oil, glass powder, and fossil plastics. Choose from a variety of colorways, as well as 32 mm or 41 mm faces.
The collection interprets the company’s long-standing Swiss railways design with sustainability in mind. Essence watches are water resistant up to 30 meters and have a two-year international warranty.
Raw material watches by JORD
What’s good: JORD creates timeless pieces by using raw materials for high-quality, eco-friendly watches. Whether with steel or wood timepieces, or even infusing coffee into a watch, JORD is a creative and sustainable option with sleek craftsmanship.
Details: JORD’s Stearman series uses high-quality materials and care to create a staple item for your wardrobe. (And it doesn’t even require a battery!) Made with marblewood and stainless steel, the Stearman has adjustable elements and is available in 34, 44, or 52 mm sizes.
To encourage longevity and durability, each Stearman comes with a cedar watch box, cleaning cloth, and a six-month supply of a custom-formulated wood treatment gel and applicator pen.
Price: Starts at $495
Time IV Change’s Pinatex watch
What’s good: Time IV Change (TIVC) poses: “Time is all we have — why not invest in the future?”
The company believes in high-value handcrafted vegan watches that are cruelty-free and Peta-approved. From eco-suede options made from recycled materials and Pinatex bands that use natural fibers, to vegan microfiber “leather” watches in 36 and 40 mm sizes, you’re sure to find something you’ll love.
All of TIVC’s watches are manufactured in an SA8000 certified ethical factory, and its leather production does not include any high-concern substances, as requested by the European Chemicals Agency.
Details: TIVC’s Pinatex watches are made with a new patented material made from pineapple leaf fibers! The fibers are gathered by partner farming cooperatives in the Philippines and are the byproduct of an already existing pineapple harvest, meaning no extra land, water, fertilizers, or pesticides are required to produce them. TIVC was the world’s first company to use the material for watch bands.
The Pinatex collection comes in natural or black color ways and with gold, silver, or rose gold watch faces (all of which are only available in 36mm sizes). All watches are fitted with quick-release straps, making it easy for users to change the styles of their watches with new straps.
Price: $220 AUD (or just over $153 USD)
Recycled PET watches by 2 Degrees East
What’s good: 2 Degrees East is an Asian-owned watch brand dedicated to making accessories that don’t cost you or the planet. The company uses materials like sapphire crystals, Japanese movement, zero-waste ion plating, Italian full-grain leather, vegetable tanning, recycled PET, and recycled craft paper packaging.
2 Degrees East also owns its own assembly factory, meaning there are no middlemen, and your watch will be high-quality and will ship directly to you. The company shares that all workers involved in watch production receive fair wages and conditions that meet or exceed the fundamental standards set out by the International Labour Organization.
Lastly, 2 Degrees East partners with the nonprofit Trees For The Future, which works to end hunger, poverty, and deforestation internationally. With each watch sold, 30 trees are planted.
Details: One of 2 Degrees East’s popular designs is the NATO watch, which is a minimal but mindfully crafted watch with a breathable strap woven from 100% post-consumer RePET recycled plastic bottles. Available in 36 mm and 40 mm diameters, the NATO watch is made with stainless steel and zero-waste ionic plating for a sleek and stylish look that puts the planet first.
Votch’s AppleSkin straps for Apple Watch
What’s good: Votch is a cruelty-free accessory brand creating watches for the conscious consumer, made with high-quality faux leather and other vegan materials. The company also promises one tree planted with every order through a partnership with CFree, a nonprofit that plants Mangroves in Madagascar.
Votch also supports a number of animal welfare organizations with a give-back program every three months. Additionally, Votch operates a circular model, offering discounts for every recycled watch (of any brand or condition!). The funds made from recycling the watches go directly back into Votch’s give-back program.
Details: Though Votch offers a variety of adorable vegan watches, what stood out to us was its Apple Watch-compatible watch bands made with a material called AppleSkin. All of these straps are made with a bio-based material produced by using residual fibers from the apple juice industry in Northern Italy. These fibers are transformed into a durable leather alternative.
Customizable Vegan watches from Tense
What’s good: Tense is a Canada-based watch company that designs high-quality wooden watches made with 100% recycled or reclaimed wood. Tense is also a member of 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate one percent of its sales to organizations dedicated to the welfare of local and global environmental initiatives.
Each Tense watch is manufactured by hand in Vancouver and can be customized with your choice of case, wood materials, dials, and even free custom engraving.
Details: One of Tense’s vegan-friendly watches is the Hampton II, made with totally recycled wood for a premium leather alternative. It uses a Miyota watch movement from Japan and features a stainless steel clasp.
With a two-year warranty, the Hampton II can also be customized with watch and box engraving, as well as customized specs, for a fully one-of-a-kind piece.
(PRODUCT)RED Apple Watch
What’s good: While we understand that Apple is a major corporation that doesn’t always deserve our applause, but if you’re in the market for a smart watch and want to make a difference — look no further than the Apple Watch.
Apple’s 15-year-long partnership with PRODUCT(RED) has raised almost $250 million to fund HIV/AIDS programs and provide life-saving treatment to over 13.8 million people.
Additionally, Apple has some pretty great sustainability practices. The Apple Watch (Series 7) is made with 100% recycled aluminum and recycled magnetic elements. Additionally, Apple’s trade-in program helps you get money back on your used products and do good for the planet all at the same time.
Details: The (RED) Apple Watch (Series 7) is crack, dust, and water resistant and offers all the same smart watch capabilities we’ve come to know and love. Whether that’s wellness tracking, phone and text features, emergency calling, or the Always-On Retina display, the Series 7 Watch comes in 45 or 41 mm sizes.
Additionally, if you already have an Apple Watch, you can swap your bands out for a (PRODUCT)RED band (in Sport Loop, Modern Buckle, or Sport Band), the Black Unity band (in Sport Band), or the Pride Edition band (in Nike Sport Loop or Sport Loop) — all of which directly donate to nonprofits.
Looking for more eco-friendly products? Explore our guide!