Indonesian watchmakers are turning waste wood into timepieces as a means to encourage recycling and to help to develop the creative art scene in the Southeast Asian nation.
Using discarded wood collected from furniture makers, the designers at watchmaker Matoa transform the blocks into beautifully crafted watches that sell for around $75-$120. The name “Matoa” was inspired by the name of a tall, tough and huge tree species that grows on the mainland of Papua province in eastern Indonesia.
“We maximize the usage of waste from furniture production. When the furniture makers use a big trunk, the leftover of their creation will become our raw materials to make a watch. Because we only need a small piece of wood for watch production,” said marketing manager Agianda Merzeindhy.
With machines and 25 watchmakers, the company can produce up to 25 watches per day, a very small amount compared to international brands with hundreds of workshops around the world.
Bandung, where the company is located, aims to become the Mecca of art in Indonesia. The local government has set up a creative industry committee as a way to support young artists and help them showcase their talent through performances and creativity crafts and touts Matoa as role model.
“It is one of the best examples. It is interesting because they utilise the waste, making it zero waste,” said Galih Sedayu, deputy director of the Creative Industry Committee.
The watch is pricey in a country where half of the 250 million residents make $2 every day.
But it has its fans.
“It is unique because of what it is made of, using the waste wood. Usually we buy a watch that is made of metal or strap made by leather. Therefore this watch is very unique and very light,” said a customer who goes by one name, Sally.
Matoa currently has five designs name after five Indonesian islands: Sumba, Gili, Moyo, Rote and Flores.
The watches are exported to at least nine countries including Singapore, China, Japan, South Africa, Germany and the United States.