Can Watches Be Recycled?

In short, watches can be recycled but this is highly dependent on the type of the watch. Certain parts like the gears are particularly recyclable if in good working order.

Maybe you’ve worn a watch for decades, but it’s finally ticked its last tick. Maybe you got a watch as a present and while you appreciate the sentiment, it’s not something you would ever wear and you can’t return it.

Maybe you’re simply sick of your watch and want to get rid of it. There are several reasons why you might be ready to give up your watch. The only question is – how? We don’t tend to think of watches as things that can be recycled. However, the opposite is actually true.

There are many ways to recycle watches and get paid for doing so.

How to Recycle Watches

Your watch is made with a lot of different materials. Leather, plastic, metal, glass – all this and more can and should be reused.

On the one hand, most of these parts are unfortunately so small or inexpensive that there isn’t much point in recycling them.

On the other hand, some of the larger parts, such as gears necessary for the inner workings of the watches, can be used in watch repair for other watches, making them a good choice for recycling.

Watch repair shops are, thus, one of the best places to recycle watches. They need the parts for old models, and you get some money back – it’s a win-win.

Different watch repair shops specialize in different watches (e.g., Renaissance Watch Repair does classic watches, and Apple Repair Shops service their own watches) so do some research about where the best place to turn in your old watches might be.

Look for places that advertise things like “we buy watches.” Even non-working watches can be valuable for the purpose of harvesting repair parts.

Finally, consider these three other ways to recycle old watches:

1.   Contacting or shipping the watch directly to the watchmaker. For example, Apple will sometimes take back old watches (and other devices) as part of their Apple Trade-In program.

This enables Apple to recoup parts for building new machines and allows you to trade in your Apple Watch for a newer model or credit toward one.

2.  If your watch is in good enough condition, you may be able to sell it as a used watch, which a seller could then resell themselves. This is more likely to be a viable option if your watch is an in-demand brand (e.g., Rolex, Tissot, Apple Watch, and so on).

3. Plenty of people in the world cannot even afford a watch. While that isn’t the most pressing expenditure for those in need, donating your watch to a charity that can send them to people in need can be a great way to give back.

Which Watches Can Be Recycled?

Not all watches are created equal, and, thus, not all of them can be recycled. If you have an inexpensive plastic watch, for example, chances are no one is going to be interested in buying it off you.

While the plastic may be salvageable as scrap, even that can be doubtful in some cases, and it may not be worth the effort for such a small, inexpensive watch.

Also, if your watch is practically falling apart, its condition may be too poor to trade in for cash.


On the flip side, luxury watches, in particular, can make for a lucrative trade-in option. If the metal, glass, and gears of your watch are still in good shape, they may be attractive to repair shops and companies looking to harvest them for parts.


By knowing what to expect, you can make the right choice about recycling your old watch and getting something back in the process.

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