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The hour has come – your beloved timepiece has finally given up the ghost. Now, what should you do with the remains? Can you recycle its parts? Or should you just sell it online or at pawn shops?
Just because your watch is out of style or broken doesn’t mean it has reached the end of its lifespan. Below are some ideas on what you can do with your old watches:
10 Things to Do With Old Watches
1. Repurpose Your Old Watch
If your timepiece is no longer functional, you can bring it to a watch repair shop or jeweler in your area. They may be able to repurpose the watch’s valuable materials to create new jewelry or use some pieces for other watches.
Watches are made with different materials. For instance, the band and the watch can contain precious or cheap metal, hard or soft plastic, glass, leather, or even wood. There are also many little pieces inside the watch, many of which are possibly valuable and can be repurposed.
You can even search online for “we buy non-working watches” or “we buy old watches,” and you’ll get plenty of results. While most of these online businesses are interested in specialty, vintage, and luxury watches, others accept a wide range of watches.
How watch manufacturers recycle old timepieces
There’s a growing trend among watch manufacturers to use old and non-functional watches and take their parts. They’ll then use those old watch parts that are still functional in new watches.
2. Make Ornaments Out of It
The next option you can do with an old watch is to make ornaments out of it. You can use the face of the wristwatch or the wristband to make artistic decorations. You can also create Christmas ornaments or make them as sun catchers.
It could become an attention-grabbing art inside or outside of your home. It also makes a unique gift.
If you can remove the hands of the old watch underneath the glass, you can use the watch face as a small photo frame. Find a photo that motivates you, and cut it to fit inside the watch dial. Screw back the crystal window of your watch and display that as a watch photo frame.
Some prefer to wear it around their neck as a pendant or locket. Meanwhile, others love to display the watch photo frame on a wall.
3. Sell It for Extra Money
A good wristwatch is like an old friend. You may not be able to get back the time you spent together, yet you can get back some money as long as you’re persistent.
If your watch is exceptionally well-made or you bought it from an esteemed seller, it may still be in the early stage of being a vintage quality timepiece. Compared to other items that suffer wear and tear after years of use, quality watches often increase in value over the years.
You can contact a local jeweler to get the timepiece appraised before listing or selling it anywhere online, in a pawnshop, or at a jewelry store. Doing this will help you find its present worth. However, if the watch is of good quality, such as Tag Heuer, Cartier, or Rolex watches, it may be better as a family keepsake.
4. Use It as a Clock
Make a clock out of an old timepiece. You only need an old vinyl record, craft store clockwork, or plastic plate. Remove the wristbands and set them around your vinyl record or plate. Glue them down, use the 12 watch faces for your clock numbers, and you’re good to go.
This craft also makes a great Christmas gift idea. You can even create multiple clocks if you have many old watches at home. Simply adjust the watch’s face sizes until you’re satisfied.
5. Wear It as a Bracelet or Necklace
Repurpose your beloved watch into a fashionable bracelet or necklace. It would be much better if you could make it a locket bracelet that dons the picture of your favorite person or pet.
For this project, first, select a suitable background photo. Look for a picture that will complement that style of your watch. If the image doesn’t fit the size, edit using a photo program or take it to a print shop for proper sizing.
The next step is to prepare the watch. Remove the watch face using the screwdriver. Some watches are easy to pop using a dull kitchen knife. Next, remove any hardware and watch hands holding the watch in place. Doing this ensures that nothing on the watch dial could compromise or puncture the photo.
For the next step, clean the watch and mount the photo inside the dial. Add a few dabs of glue to ensure the image stays in place. Put back the watch glass face that you previously removed. And there you go! Your new watch bracelet or necklace is ready to wear. This project works best for vintage timepieces.
Related: How To Take Links Out Of Watches
6. Use It as a Paperweight or Add It to Your Scrapbook
You can also use unwanted watches as paperweights or add them to a vintage-style scrapbook. This way, the timepieces can still serve a purpose.
When creating a new page in your scrapbook, add the watch gears or faces to transform your sheet.
7. Donate It to a Worthy Cause
Digital watches and mobile phones are taking over the timekeeping industry, and the watchmaking industry is gradually shrinking. It also means that some manufactured watch parts are becoming rare. Consequently, jewelers or watchmakers will gladly take the old watch off your wrist.
Fortunately, plenty of charity organizations accept donations of old watches, regardless of the condition of the timepiece. The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, for instance, is a nonprofit based in Delaware that receives watches of all kinds, including pocket watches, vintage watches, and other timepieces.
Interestingly, manufacturers are refurbishing or recycling watches too. So, watch enthusiasts can send their old timepieces to them so you can use them again. In some cases, watch recycling may be the best option.
If they believe they can’t repurpose the components, they will follow protocols for disposal while following the environmental guidelines in your area.
8. Turn It Into Tiny Sculptures
You can recycle watches and turn them into tiny sculptures if you’re a little more creative. For instance, you can craft a miniature motorcycle out of vintage watch parts. Other projects include small steampunk items, butterflies, and more!
These projects make a great display item or gift for someone who enjoys miniature items. Aside from the old watches, other things you’ll need to complete the project include a pen, wire (copper) epoxide glue, pliers, a metal pen, and plastic pieces for some parts.
Related: Tissot Skeleton Watch Review
9. Make It as a Sun Catcher
Simple or complicated, suncatchers are unique as the people behind them. They are also limited only by people’s imagination, so you can come up with various designs you like.
To start, reverse paint your old watch’s dial or window glass. Hang the old watches together and design your suncatcher. This item is decorative and attention-grabbing.
10. Pass It Down as a Family Heirloom
If you no longer want to use your old watch but still want to keep it, your best option is to pass it down as a family heirloom. Find someone in your family who may be interested in timepieces and show them your old watch.
Benefits of Recycling or Upcycling Old Watches
There are plenty of benefits to recycling and upcycling watches. Both benefit the environment by keeping the materials out of landfills. It is beneficial in watches because they contain stones and metals that can be reused for new projects.
Upcycling old watches means you no longer have to use new materials in production. Then, there are also economic and social benefits of upcycling. Behind every upcycled project, an artist believes in a level of craftsmanship that we don’t often see.
Recycling and upcycling also support small local businesses and rural village industries. Moreover, if artists make new items from used materials, it reduces manufacturing costs.
Recycling involves breaking down waste material into new materials and creating new products. On the other hand, upcycling reuses old materials without breaking their base state to create a higher quality or value project.
Assess the watch before recycling it
If you think your timepiece has stopped working, check it before recycling it. It may only be experiencing a temporary halt because of inactivity. Gently swing it off and check it will function again.
You can try winding the timepiece a few times. Try basic troubleshooting steps. If it’s a quartz watch, the battery may be the battery. If, after the assessment and necessary repair, the watch still won’t work, you may recycle or upcycle your old watch.
The Bottom line
Getting rid of an old watch, no matter the cause will never be enjoyable. If you follow some options above, you can smile and be happy that a new breath of life will be transferred to your once loved watch.
Remember that there’s always a purpose for unused watches. Even if the item may no longer be necessary for you, someone else can still find value in it. So, your last recourse is to donate or sell them to aid various charities or online organizations.
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My name is Eve Acosta and I’m the person behind this site. Watches are what get me ticking ;).
No, but seriously, I just love watches, I have over 30 myself. It’s an obsession of mine, which is why my husband recommended me to put my hobby into some good use and build this site – so I did.
My passion for timepieces came from the fact that my parents own a small chain of shops selling timepieces. I’ve worked at the shop since I was 11 and fell in love with the merchandise.