The year I wore my high school boyfriend’s chunky Timex Ironman made me a military-timer for life. I can still picture its face, as wide as my wrist. My first black stainless-steel Fossil was as much a fashion statement as it was a time-keeping device, until it was stolen from the sock drawer of my Lower East Side walk-up. When I lost its successor to an unplanned ocean plunge, I decided that was it for me and watches, though I still checked my wrist for the time until iPhone habits gradually took over.
Twenty years later, I am still watch-free—but a small company in Berlin is changing my mind. Paprcuts watches are handmade from Tyvek—that same weather-resistant material you staple to the sheathing of your house before installing siding. On the wrist, they feel like paper, but they’re actually a kind of recycled plastic made out of high-density polyethylene fibers. This means they’re super-light, waterproof, and, as the literal German-to-English translation on the website touts, “tear-proof as hell.”
If that’s not enough for the conscious consumer in your life, Paprcuts watches are sustainably sourced, recyclable, vegan, and fair-produced. Thanks to the EU, they’re also nickel-free. The European Union’s Nickel Directive ensures that jewelry and other worn products release minimal amounts of nickel onto your skin—0.5 micrograms per cm per week to be exact.
All this good and conscientious stuff aside, the thing that really sold me on these watches was how great they look. The enormous design selection ranges from wanderlust nature scenes to old-timey sailor-and-compass prints to kittens shooting lasers out of their eyes (sold out, obviously). That aesthetic recently earned Paprcuts the CrowdfundingSilver Award in Design by the City of Berlin.
The watches glow in the dark, and out of the dark look like a stylish wristband. Best of all, you can buy one for $45 (about €39)—a bargain compared to my $250+ non-sustainable Fossils. At that price, why not get two?