More so than any other consumer product, watches are intertwined with history. Whether it’s your grandfather’s Elgin pocket watch or Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona that recently broke the record for most expensive wristwatch ever sold, it’s these relationships between time and personality that allow watches to retain a sort of indefinable sense of humanity on the wrist. Some brands embrace this ideological stance and put a focus on bridging the gap between historical perception and modern tastes, while others take the watch as an archival item onto itself and build it out with historically significant objects of the past. Is this taking it too far? Does adding a piece of the Titanic onto a watch provoke a moral quandary or make it more valuable? What about adding human blood onto a watch’s dial? What’s the limit to these “special-edition” timepieces? That’s up to you.
Here are nine remarkable examples of mechanical watches utilizing upcycled materials.
The most philanthropic of these sorts of watches is a line of timepieces utilizing melted down AK-47s taken from Africa. Founded in 2009, Fonderie 47 is now responsible for the destruction of over 55,000 assault rifles in Africa. The brand’s limited-edition timepiece, called the Inversion Principle, comes in white or rose gold and features jumping hours, retrograde minutes, and a three-minute tourbillon. Each watch funds the destruction of 1,000 rifles and you can actually see the serial number of the AK-47 from which the steel was wrought on the watch.