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Types of Wood Used for Wooden Watches

types of wood used for watch making

Why use wood to make watches instead of metal though? Yes, some top well respected watch companies make great looking watches out of metal today, but wood provides its own unique characteristic to every watch made of it.

Since no two pieces of wood are exactly alike it leads to no to watches being exactly alike. This draws people in, especially those that like being unique or ahead of the curve. Wood watches are also more eco-friendly than their counter parts. Plastic is a petroleum by product, so any watches with plastic parts are contributing to our reliance on fossil fuels, and these are slowly being depleted. Metal watches on the other hand cause major environmental damage where they mine the ores out. Heavy machines are used, so not only is pollution going into the air, but it also destroys hillsides and mountains which can lead to major water run off issues. Wait, doesn’t deforestation cause the same issues as mining? Yes, it can, but when done properly cutting down trees isn’t a bad thing. Trees get old like we do, so clearing out the old or damaged ones allow the younger trees to flourish and grow stronger. Also, if the logging companies replant what they take, than wood is renewable where metals and fossil fuels are not.


Some of the most common types include:

  • Bamboo
  • Ebony
  • Zebrawood
  • Maple
  • Sandalwood

Woods can be broken down into hardwoods verses softwoods. This can be confusing because what determines which category the wood falls into is not the actual hardness of the wood. While softwoods most of the time are softer, less dense, than hardwoods that is not always the case. What determines the category that the wood falls into is actually how the tree produces its seeds. Softwoods like pine let the seeds fall straight to the ground. Hardwoods on the other hand have a fruit that covers the seed like an acorn from an oak tree or an apple from an apple tree. Generally, softwood trees grow quicker and thus are cheaper then hardwoods, but hardwoods tend to have better grain patterns and more vibrant colors than hardwoods.

Color and Texture Variations

  • Yellowish Brown
  • Whitish Brown
  • Reddish Brown
  • Dark Brown
  • Blackish Brown

These are just a few of the colors wood can be. Depending how the wood is stained the same type of wood can vary in color. Also, certain woods change color as they age, and as long as they are taken care of, the patina can add even more uniqueness to the wood.

1: Bamboo

bamboo

Although it's technically a tree grass, lot's of people think bamboo is a type of wood. Bamboo is a super strong, lightweight and naturally water resistant material that's incredible for making bamboo watches. Bamboo can be grown in most of the world, but is commonly found in Asia and Australia. Bamboo also shares lots of characteristics with wood, making this material a great option for wooden watch artisans.

One top quality of bamboo is it grows extremely quick.

While it can take up to twenty years for certain trees to mature to the point of being harvested, bamboo shoots can grow to their full height within one season. If you let them go another year or two they will only double in size. The quicker growth allows for the cost of bamboo to be a lot less than real wood.

Bamboo is generally a lighter yellowish color, which allows this awesome material to retain different color stains easily. This allows for you to be able to obtain whatever color you want, while maintaining the strength and characteristics of the bamboo watch.

Naturally water resistant

Since bamboo is a tree grass, it's actually a fiber type material. This fiber material allows for tremendous resistance to water, and also makes caring for the bamboo watch a lot easier than one made from wood.

These features along with the benefit of being so affordable makes bamboo a great option for a wood watch, especially if you are an active or outdoor person.

2: Ebony

ebony

Ebony is a dense black hardwood,an evergreen tree, that is apart of the ebony family. There are three species of ebony which include Ceylon, Gabon and Makassar ebony. Ebony trees usually grow in moist soil in tropical forests, usually in lower altitudes. Unfortunatly the ebony tree is so popular the number of trees in the wild is decreasing from extensive harvesting from their natural habitats. In fact, the Gabon ebony is already listed as endangered. Ebony is a finely-textured wood, and has a very smooth finish when polished, making it valuable as an ornamental wood for ebony wood watches.

Color & Appearance

Ebony is a dark black wood that can come from a few different species of trees in the genus diospyros. The bark of ebony trees is usually scaly, and dark grey in color, and often covered with mosses and diseases. Heartwood of ebony tree is black or brownish in color and is most commonly used to craft black chess pieces, black piano keys, tool handles and other luxury pieces. The grain of ebony is straight and generally tight. Normally due to the dark color of the wood you cannot see the grain too much. If you are seeking a wood with more pattern to it, than ebony or heartwood may not be the option for you.

Where it's found

Ebony wood is commonly found in India, Sri Lanka, Western Africa, and even Indonesia depending on the exact species.

Facts & Information

  • Ebony trees can grow pretty tall, in fact, they can anywhere from 65-68 feet tall.
  • The fruit of the Gabon tree is used to make certain alcoholic beverages, beers, wines and spirits.
  • We aren't the only ones that love the ebony tree. Animals like elephants, giraffes, monkeys and warthogs love to feed on the leaves and fruits.
  • The ebony tree is so extremely dense that it does not float like most other wood. If you were to place a piece of ebony wood in water, it would sink right away.
  • Bark of ebony tree can be used as a source of dark blue pigment that is used for painting of cloth.
  • The ebony tree can live for hundreds and hundreds of years and doesn't reach maturity until it's anywhere from 60-200 years old.
  • There are a large number of protection acts on this wood, which makes it hard to import it in certain areas. Due to all the protection and the time required to grow new trees ebony is generally only used for small things like ebony wood watches.
  • Ebony is a nice wood for ebony watches because it is one of the handful of woods that can get you that rich, dark black look.
  • Ebony wood also polishes up extremely well, making it a great wood for a nice, shiny, polished ebony wood watch.

3: Sandalwood

sandalwood

Color & Appearance

Although the reddish brown is the most sought after color sandalwood, it can also be found in red, black/brown, green, and yellowish colors.

Where it's found

Different species of sandalwood can be found around the world. Two common places sandalwood can be found are India and Sri Lanka.

Facts & Information

  • The oils that it produce have been said to have magical properties. Known around the world for it's beautiful fragrance which is retained in the wood for decades after cutting.
  • The oil from Sandalwood have been used for centuries in eastern medicine, cosmetics, and religious purposes.
  • Due to the demand sandalwood has been over harvested making it a bit more expensive wood to use for sandalwood watches.
  • Considered a luxury wood, you will stand out when wearing a sandalwood watch.

If however you are seeking a wood that has been highly sought after for ages and will make you stand out, than ebony is a great choice for a wood watch. It is really hard to mimic the dark shiny black look that ebony can provide.

4: Zebrawood

zebrawood

ZEBRAWOOD - is pretty much solely in Africa. Like the name implies, zebra wood has a nice rich grain that is stipe like. The grain tends to be a dark black while the surrounding wood is more of a light brown or cream color, but can get into the yellowish brown spectrum. Zebrawood is a hard wood, and the grain can vary. Different trees have been given the name zebrawood, and some have tighter more linear grain, while others have grain that is almost chaotic with its waviness. Zebrawood isn’t nearly as pricey as ebony, but it is not on the cheap side either. It is a good middle range price, Zebrawood can be a little harder to work with due to its interlocking grain, but it is easier to work with than ebony because it is not as dense. If you are seeking a wood watch that is unique and no one will have one like it, than zebrawood is a great option for that. Also, zebrawood has a high quality look without being extremely expensive. This means you could get a whole watch made from it including the band. The fact that it is a lighter color gives it a rustic look and makes it so it can go with pretty much any outfit. You can dress it up by wearing a suit, or dress down with it by wearing a nice fitted shirt and some jeans. No matter the occasion zebrawood makes a great wood for a watch. 

5: Maple

maple

MAPLE - is mostly found in North America and Europe. Maple is a great wood that has been used in wood working for ages. It is an affordable one in part because it can grow to as tall as one hundred and fifty feet. This provides a lot of wood by cutting down one tree. Also, there are a lot of different species of maple. While all maple trees are hardwood, some are softer than others. The softer less dense ones are easier to work with. Since there are so many different kinds of maple you can get it in pretty much the whole range of colors. While the regular maple that most people are used to is a lighter whitish brown wood. Red maple can have the darker reddish brown that can be extremely desirable.  The grain of maple is generally not overly noticeable like in zebrawood, but can be seen a lot better than ebony. The grain is normally straight, but some species will have wavy grain. Maple is a good middle of the road option. It can allow you to get a generally more expensive color like red cheaper, and it can also allow you to get a unique looking watch that is different than everyone else since the grain is somewhat noticeable. Due to how easy maple can mimic other woods, it is a great wood for making watches out of.

6: Teak

Teak - is generally in the brownish gray color group with a moderately noticeable straight grain. It is normally sourced from India and that region. On occasion though the grain can be wavy. Despite its wide availability and cultivation teak can be on the expensive side, but this is normally only for large pieces. Since wood watches don’t require large planks using teak does not cause the price to jump to highly. Also it is easily workable and has great durability and resistance to rot.

7: Pui

Pui - trees grow well over one hundred feet, so each one provides a lot of wood keeping the cost down. Pui is generally yellowish in color and has a straight grain that isn’t super distinct. If you want a wood option that is easy to work with like teak, but not as expensive, than pui is the way to go.

Wood watches provide for a lot of variation from standard metal watches. Each wood watch that is made is unique because even the same type of wood can vary in certain qualities. 

The quality variation can be seen in the:

  • Grain pattern (Straight or Wavy)
  • Notice-ability of the grain (Light or Distinct)
  • Color of the wood

These differences can make your wood watch stand out from the others. If you want your watch to stand out even more you can have mixes of types of woods, or woods of the same type stained differently. This means you can have the time piece of the watch be made out of a yellowish color wood and then have a band with yellowish sides and a reddish central piece. You can mix and match differently providing unlimited options. 

Wood watches also have a craftsmanship that metal watches don’t have. Since the wood has to be carved, which is normally done by hand, the watch stands out and shouts quality. Even if a cheaper wood is used a wood watch still provides for a great statement piece. No matter your price range or taste there is a wood option that will be perfect for you and your personality.

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