While watches may seem like a thing of the past to some, to others they are still an essential fashion accessory (even if they look at their cell phone to tell time).

But like everything else, watches do have a shelf life, and will stop working once their battery runs out, they fall and break, or when they it’s just simply their time.

So, how do you dispose of a watch that you don’t want or need anymore? In this article, we take a look at whether or not a watch can be recycled, and if there are any alternatives to throwing away your old watch.

Can you recycle a watch?

Due to the fact that watches are made of so many different materials, they can’t exactly be thrown in the blue bin with the rest of your recycling.

This leaves you with the option of throwing your watch in the trash or taking it apart completely to recycle only certain components. However, there are other ways to go about recycling your watch.

Recycle Nation tells us the best way to recycle a watch:

“Watches are made with a huge range of materials. The watch and band can contain cheap or precious metal, soft or hard plastic, real or fake leather, glass, even wood.

Watches have lots of little pieces, most of which are not particularly valuable. As a result, it is difficult to truly recycle watches. However, there are plenty of ways you can recycle some of your old watch parts, or even reuse the entire watch.

Search online for “we buy watches” or “we buy non-working watches,” and you will pull up plenty of results.”

Give it to a non-profit organization

Donating to your local thrift store is a great way to pass on your old watch while helping someone in need.

Of course, this only applies if you know your watch isn’t broken beyond repair and/or the face hasn’t been smashed from an accidental drop!

ThreadCurve tells us more ways that you can give to a non-profit organization:

“A number of charities accept donations of watches. Groups, such as Brownies and Scouts, recycle them or resell them to raise much-needed funds. They accept other donated jewelry for this purpose, too.

Watches that are still ticking can be given away or sold at a reduced price to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them.

Charities can also sell the watches to raise money for their respective organizations.  They might, for instance, sell them at auction or raffle them off.”


Image Credit:

1. Check with the Manufacturer

Before disposing of your watch, it’s a good idea to check with the manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program. Many watch companies have take-back programs where they will recycle or refurbish old watches.

This is often the easiest and most eco-friendly option, as the manufacturer can recycle the watch using their specialized equipment and processes.

Some companies also offer incentives for customers who return their old watches, such as discounts on new purchases.

If the manufacturer doesn’t have a program, you can contact a local jeweler or watch repair shop to see if they can recycle or reuse the watch parts.

They may be able to use the metal, glass, and other materials in the watch for other purposes, such as repairing other watches or creating new jewelry. Some jewelers also offer discounts on new purchases when customers bring in their old watches.

WickedCoolWatches explains why you should try contacting your watch manufacturer to get rid of your old watch:

“It’s been a growing trend for watch manufacturers to take care of the disposal of their watches. Companies now take in their old and non-functional watches and take them apart to use all the pieces that are still working in new watches.

This is a perfect way to recycle your old watch as even if they don’t have any pieces that can be recycled, the watch will go into the manufacturer’s disposal process, which is designed to dispose of the watches properly.”

2. Donate or Sell Your Watch

Another eco-friendly option is to donate or sell your watch. If your watch is still in good condition, consider donating it to a charity or second-hand store.

Many charities accept watches as donations and will sell them in their thrift stores to raise funds for their programs.

Some second-hand stores also specialize in watches and may offer a higher price for your watch than a general thrift store.

You could also sell your watch online through a marketplace or auction site. This is a good option if your watch is in good condition but you no longer use it.

Take clear photos and provide a detailed watch description to attract potential buyers. Consider offering free shipping or a return policy to make the sale more attractive.

3. Recycle Your Watch

If your watch is no longer usable, it can be recycled. Most watches are made of metal so that they can be recycled as other metal items. Here’s how to recycle your watch:

  • Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept watches. Some recycling programs take watches as part of their metal recycling program. They may require you to remove the battery or band before recycling the watch.
  • Contact a scrap metal recycling facility if your local recycling program doesn’t accept watches. They can tell you if they get watches and how to prepare them for recycling. They may also offer a higher price for the metal if the watch is made of valuable materials, such as gold or silver.
  • Remove the battery from the watch before recycling it. Watch batteries can be recycled separately. Some recycling programs accept watch batteries as part of their household hazardous waste program, while others require you to take them to a separate facility.

4. Proper Disposal of Watch Batteries

Watch batteries contain chemicals that can harm the environment if not disposed of properly. Here’s how to dispose of watch batteries:

  • Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept watch batteries. Some programs take them as part of their household hazardous waste program. They may require you to seal the battery in a plastic bag or container before disposing of it.
  • Contact a local hazardous waste facility if your local recycling program doesn’t accept watch batteries. They can tell you how to dispose of the battery safely. Some facilities may take watch batteries for recycling, while others may require you to dispose of them as hazardous waste.
  • Never throw watch batteries in the trash. This can lead to the battery leaking and releasing harmful chemicals into the environment.

5. Reuse Watch Parts

If your watch is no longer usable, you can reuse some parts. Here are some ways to reuse watch parts:

  • Create jewelry: Use the watch face or parts to create unique jewelry pieces. This can be a fun DIY project and a great way to give new life to old items.
  • Create art: Use watch parts to create sculptures or other works of art. This can be a fun way to express creativity and repurpose old items.
  • Donate to art programs: Some art programs accept donations of old watch parts for their projects.

6. Composting Watch Bands

It can be composted if your watch band is made of natural materials such as leather. Here’s how to compost your watch band:

  • Remove any metal pieces from the bar. These can be recycled separately.
  • Cut the leather into small pieces to speed up decomposition.
  • Add the leather to your compost bin or pile.
  • Mix the leather with other organic materials, such as food and yard waste.

7. Proper Disposal of Watch Glass

If your watch has a glass face, it can be recycled or disposed of as household glass. Here’s how to dispose of watch glass:

  • Check with your local recycling program to see if they accept glass from watches. If they do, remove any metal pieces from the glass before recycling it.
  • If your local recycling program doesn’t accept watch glass, dispose of it as household glass. Place the glass in a paper bag or wrap it in newspaper before putting it in the trash.

8. Consider Repairing Your Watch

If your watch is broken but still holds sentimental value, consider repairing it instead of disposing of it.

Many watch repair shops offer repair services, and improving your watch can often be more cost-effective than buying a new one. Repairing your watch also helps reduce waste and supports local businesses.

9. Reduce Your Watch Waste

The most eco-friendly option is to reduce the amount of waste you generate in the first place. Here are some ways to reduce your watch waste:

  • Buy watches made of sustainable materials, such as recycled metal or wood.
  • Buy watches that are built to last. Look for high-quality watches designed to be repaired and have replaceable parts.
  • Avoid buying watches with unnecessary features or functions you won’t use.
  • Take care of your watch to extend its lifespan. This includes keeping it clean and storing it properly when not in use.

The Bottom Line

Spread the word about eco-friendly watch disposal to your friends and family. Encourage them to recycle or donate their old watches instead of throwing them away.

The more people who adopt eco-friendly practices, the greater impact we can have on the environment.


What can I do with an old hand watch?

You can recycle or donate your old hand watch to reduce waste and support sustainable practices.
Alternatively, you can repurpose the watch parts for DIY projects or artistic creations.

Are old watches worth anything?

Depending on their brand, age, condition, and rarity, old watches can be worth the money.
However, the value of an old watch is highly variable and requires expert evaluation.

Why do people collect vintage watches?

People collect vintage watches because they appreciate each timepiece’s craftsmanship, history, and unique style.
Vintage watches also hold sentimental value and can be considered an investment.

Additional Posts:

  1. How to Recycle Video Tapes [4 Ways]
  2. How to Recycle Microwave Ovens
  3. How to Recycle Cigarette Filters
  4. How to Recycle Gel Ice Packs [4 Ways]
  5. How to Recycle Wooden Pallets [5 Ways]