Garbage Watch

First we opened up the R&D process

After thousands of people joined the waiting list, we decided to open up our R&D process to make this happen faster, just like we’ve done on other innovations. No-one has ever built a watch out of garbage before – that’s why we’re doing it. But it’s also why we wanted your help. We’re lucky to have some of the world’s smartest customers – from engineers and designers, to rocket scientists and adventurers. So we went looking for the best people to talk to and the smartest ways to make this.

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We can only build this with your help

We had a truly overwhelming response. Incredible offers of help came in from designers, collectors and engineers, as well as people leading the R&D and sustainability teams at some of the world’s largest tech companies. We’ve always believed that sharing our thinking openly will help us move faster, and the Garbage Watch was yet another demonstration of that.

Garbage Watch

You can’t just call up Switzerland

Building the future on your own is close to impossible. And while we’re used to working with cutting edge materials that store heat or sunshine, or repel fire, watches are a different beast entirely. Even our most high-tech jackets might only have 50 components. A watch can have over 400. And it’s not like we can simply call Switzerland and ask them to send us some dials. We’re building something new. Something that’s never been seen or attempted before.

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We’re building it with the guys who started life building computers for Steve Jobs

To help us take the Garbage Watch from infancy to taking its first steps in the world, we’ve been working with our friends at Acorn – the Silicon Valley company that built computers with Steve Jobs back in the day. Today Acorn’s engineers and roboticists make things with Nasa, Apple and Google, as well as lifesaving equipment like the world’s first commercially available proton therapy machine for treating cancer.

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Every element of the Garbage Watch will be custom-made

We’re building a custom motor, gear train, hands, strap, case and electrical power system. We’ve scoured the globe to find e-waste resources and potential partners, so we can tell you where each and every part of the Garbage Watch came from, and what it did in its previous life. They include suppliers of e-waste metals for the watch case like gold, silver and palladium, recycling companies that break down computer housings, microprocessors and LEDs, and specialists in salvaged copper wire and cables.

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Next, we sat down and rethought how to tell the time

There are really two types of watch. Mechanical watches and quartz watches. Both keep time using an intricate system of gears, cogs and hands. They’re just powered differently. A mechanical watch gets its power from a winding spring that stores and slowly releases the energy needed to make it work. A quartz watch uses a battery to power a circuit that makes a tiny quartz crystal vibrate. These vibrations send a signal to a motor made of copper wires coiled around an iron core, turning it into a magnet. The coil spins the gears and the cogs. Mechanical watches have been around since the 16th Century. Quartz watches were launched by Seiko in 1969.

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A new type of watch

Now it’s 2022 and we think we’ve come up with a new type of watch which shares its DNA with quadcopters, drones and robots rather than watches.

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Why we’re working with electronic waste

As clothes and technology merge over the next few decades, and everything from exoskeletons to integrated monitoring and intelligence will require power distribution, there are three fundamental challenges we’re working on. First, we’re exploring what conductive base materials clothes can be made from. So you can think of the copper in our Full Metal Jacket and graphene in our Graphene Jacket as a platform on top of which other innovation can be added – a bit like an operating system in a computer. Second you have to look at what type of intelligence we’re trying to layer into our clothing. And finally, if clothes are going to become tech, then how will they get treated at the end of their life?