Wooden photo watches: using old materials for new artistry
Designers are always looking for inspiring new materials to create memorable pieces that will astound their consumers. However, sometimes their process requires taking a step back and looking at materials used in the past to gather inspiration. For instance, before using silver, gold, and platinum, local craftsmen utilized more common, natural matter for their trade. One such material was wood, and it has been making a comeback in recent years.🏃🏻
Although wood is used in all types of jewelry, it has found a special place in the watch wearing community. Wooden watches are perfect for someone who likes irreplaceable and personalized accessories. The most customized style is the wooden photo watch, which allows buyers to include a cherished photo in the watch’s dial. A wooden watch with a picture is a beautiful gift to memorialize a lost loved one or an important moment in your life. If you’re looking for the perfect sentimental gift for a watch lover, you’ve certainly found it!👏🏻 Let’s look at what makes wooden watches so fashionable and examine 4 wooden photo watches that will amplify your personal style.
What makes wood popular in custom watches
Why wood makes an excellent material for timepieces
It’s easy to see why wood is an excellent material for watches and other accessories. Wood is naturally beautiful: the cut and grain of each piece create variations in color, and no pattern can be replicated. As such, wood accessories can easily become statement pieces with the right natural grain.
Wood is also exceptionally light, and even the largest necklaces or watches weigh just a fraction of their metal counterparts. Additionally, wood is hypoallergenic, which means less irritation for those who suffer from sensitive skin.
Most importantly, wood is sustainable and renewable. It's often upcycled from driftwood, fallen trees, or other sources where harvesting causes little to no harm to the environment. Finally, the juxtaposition of materials when mixing wood with metals or gemstones is striking, catching the eye of passersby.
The symbolism behind wood
Wood is an excellent medium for jewelry as it conveys an array of meanings for wearers. For instance, trees start as tiny seeds and grow into massive trunks that withstand centuries of wear. As such, wood evokes a sense of endurance and strength, as though the wearer can stand tall in the face of conflict.
When a couple chooses wooden wedding rings, they also make quite a statement. By doing so, they profess their love, like a tiny seed, will grow into something longstanding and beautiful.
Or, wood jewelry can symbolize a call to nature and a love of all things earthly.🌎 Just as trees are surrounded by the beauty of our natural world, some wearers don wood jewelry to immerse themselves in sustainable materials to feel connected to our planet. These are just a few examples, but wood’s symbolism carries many forms!
When wood and your photo come together: choosing the right medium for your memories
While the movement of a wooden watch contains metal, the case, caseback, dial, and even the strap of a watch can all be created using wood. Different types of wood are used to make watches, and they’re hand-selected for durability, grain, and color. Here are six common types of wood used in watch creation:
Although it’s not technically wood—it’s a hollow grass—bamboo is especially popular in wooden watchmaking. It has a naturally smooth finish and a straight grain that invites customization. It also grows back quickly, so sourced bamboo is easily replaced for future generations. Bamboo is typically a light tan or yellowish color, making it a bright alternative to other wood options.
Sandalwood is durable with a lustrous shine, and its earthy scent is used in candles, oils, and skin products. It has a fairly straight grain but can appear wavy in certain pieces, adding further character. The color of sandalwood can vary greatly depending on what type of tree is sourced. Sandalwood is naturally a light tan wood, but it may also be green, dark brown, red, or even black.
Often used in furniture due to its endurance and malleability, maple is a wood meant to last for decades. It has a natural brightness and ages with grace, gathering a golden patina as the years go by. Maple has a fine grain that creates minor patterns across its surface. Similar to sandalwood, maple comes in many colors: offwhite, tan, honey, or even dark cherry. However, each variation can carry a pink or reddish hue due to the natural light grain of maple.
Elegant and strong, teakwood is more expensive than the other woods listed. It’s difficult to source, meaning it’s less eco-friendly, but it’s very resistant to decay and wear. The grain on teakwood is uneven, which creates a distinctive blend of textures for each watch. Teakwood’s colors range from a light brown to a warm, chocolate brown. Teakwood is perfect for someone who may wear their wooden watch more frequently, as it's also weather resistant.
Another wood favored in high-end furniture, walnut is sure to last for many years to come. This wood is lustrous and exudes refinement with its rich color and smooth texture. Although its grain is typically uniform, loops and waves in the pattern provide additional character. Walnut is a great choice for wearers who prefer darker colors, as it is brown with variations of coffee shades, gray, red, and paler tones.
If you’re looking for a truly unique material for a wooden watch, check out zebrawood. It is fairly durable and has a coarser texture than most woods, giving it a natural appeal. Although zebrawood isn’t lustrous, it makes up for shine with flair: the grain has vibrant dark stripes like those of a zebra! The wood itself is a rich, golden tone, but the deep brown stripes really set zebrawood apart from other materials.
3 ways to personalize your wooden photo watch
When personalizing a wooden photo watch, there are three options for buyers to consider: photo selection, strap style and material, and engraving.⌚
I. Photo Selection
This part is all up to you: choose a photo that carries an important meaning. Ensure the photo is clear and high resolution so its details are captured properly during the transfer process. The photo may be laser engraved or printed onto the surface of the watch dial, sealed in with glass and protected from the elements. It doesn’t get much more sentimental than a personalized wooden watch with a picture!
II. Strap style and material
There are so many beautiful options when it comes to choosing a watch strap: wood, metal, leather, nylon, and more! Consider how long you intend for the strap to last, as some materials withstand wear much better than others. For instance, wood requires regular maintenance, so if you’d rather just put on your watch and go you should consider a strap with less upkeep. Certain durable woods may last a decade, but you may be better off buying a replaceable nylon or leather strap if you intend on wearing your photo watch daily.
III. Case engraving
For an extra personal touch, consider requesting engraving on the back of the watch’s case. You can laser engrave a date, person’s name, or sweet sentiment that you or your intended recipient can remember for years to come. If the photo chosen for the dial of the watch is from a particular date, consider engraving that date on the back of the watch for an added touch. An engraved wooden photo watch is perfect for emphasizing the meaning behind your special gift.
4 popular wooden photo watch styles to consider
Still looking for ideas on which photo watch to purchase? Which styles are the most popular? Here are some popular recommendations on stylish wooden photo watches that will surely complete your wardrobe:
Bamboo photo watches: a timeless option for any occasion
Out of all of the woods described above, bamboo has the brightest color and texture of them all. Bamboo’s beautiful light gold hue goes great with gold or silver accents, and engraving and photos show up beautifully on its shiny surface. The smooth grain of a bamboo watch is a perfect option for casual wear as well as business professional settings. Take a look at this Soufeel wooden photo watch in bamboo that makes a stylish statement for all occasions.
Sandalwood photo watches: express yourself through color and aroma
What makes sandalwood watches so popular is their scent 😀 and the ability to tailor the wood’s color to your preference. The earthy, soothing aroma of sandalwood lingers on wood watches, and it’s a big draw for wearers who enjoy a full sensory experience when choosing accessories. Plus, the versatility of sandalwood’s color makes it a perfect option for a highly personal item such as a photo watch. If you take a look at the sandalwood cases from Woodburn Watch Co., you can choose from green, red, and even black options.
Photos: CustomalityStudio / Etsy
Mix it up: add more than one type of wood to further customize your wooden photo watch
Why choose one type of wood when you can have two? Another popular style choice is mixing woods with different grains and colors to create a unique setting for your special photo. Many popular styles, such as this Etsy wooden photo watch, incorporate complementary colors and textures. Or, you can even add three different colors of wood to really build contrast.
Some designers even allow buyers to handpick which wood they would like for each facet of their photo watch. Buyers may choose from 4 choices for both the case and dial of their finished product! Adding different types of wood to your watch can make a dynamic statement about your personal fashion.
Make it comfortable: choose a stylish leather or nylon strap
While wooden straps stand out, too much wear and tear can make the watch fall apart much quicker than anticipated. Instead, many wearers opt for leather or nylon bands to hold their precious photo watch.
Leather bands are a common choice for anyone who works in an office, as they look as great for daily wear as they do for board meetings. While tan or colored leather can bring a bit of brightness to any occasion, rich brown leather straps provide sophistication and edge.
Photo: TrendyGiftCo / Etsy
Wearers concerned with comfort may opt for a nylon strap, as these bands have the most give and take for all wrist sizes. Check out these NATO ballistic nylon straps to give you some inspiration.
Get inspired—how to wear your wooden photo watch
Accessories can change the feel of any outfit, and wooden watches are no exception. Whether you prefer a more casual or professional approach to fashion, take some inspiration 🤩 from the below photos on how to style your wooden watch.
Wooden photo watches are great for any season. Lighten up your spring or summer outfit with a light color or unique wood grain. Bright colors and airy materials bring out the natural beauty of wood watches!
In addition to great casual wear during the spring and summer, wooden watches are perfect for cooler months—as well as professional settings—when made from darker, fine-grain wood. These rich materials coordinate perfectly with the deeper, subdued colors of fall and typical office settings.
Make your wooden photo watch last: helpful care tips
Since wood is not nearly as durable as metal alloys, it requires some extra love and care. Consider these helpful care tips for your wooden photo watch:
- Preserve your wooden watch with oil. In nature, wood is constantly moisturized, so make sure you maintain that moisture with a dry, clean cloth and a teaspoon of olive oil and lemon juice on a q-tip to gently wash the surface. You may also want to try a mix of coconut oil, melted beeswax, and lemon juice and leave the mixture on overnight for a deeper conditioning.
- Avoid harsh chemicals or cleaners! Wood does not tarnish like metal, and therefore it does not require the many cleaning chemicals that alloys do. Stick to the above moisturizing method, and your wooden watch should be just fine.
- Read the product details to see if your watch is waterproof. If your watch is not waterproof, steer clear of any water or steam, as liquid can enter the porous surface of the watch and damage the wood permanently.
- Keep your watch in a mild environment. While you can wear your watch in any weather (with some exceptions for rain!), wood tends to crack and dry out in extreme temperatures. Don’t leave your watch in the car overnight, and make sure it has a safe, temperate resting place in your home.
The perfect way to blend old memories with new accessories
Wooden photo watches are a wonderful way to commemorate a relationship, life milestone, or special anniversary. Or, maybe you just want to have a photo of your loved ones on hand in case you want to show them off at the office. Whatever the reason for your purchase, wooden photo watches are a stylish accessory that provide an extra level of personalization and sentimentality.😎
Take time to carefully choose which grain, photo, and other accents you’d like on your wooden watch to ensure you’ll enjoy wearing it regularly. Also, make sure you select the right type of wood to make your watch last for decades to come!