For some time now, Adelaide based Buck!t has been steadily supplying the world their unique, upcycled, high-quality and ultra-green belts constructed from used bicycle tyres. If you missed it, have a look at our chat with Craig here. There’s been some dabbling in jewellery made from bike parts, but now two new products are set to join the permanent line-up and start delighting cyclists (and others, surely) everywhere who like to keep an eye on the time, and a hold of their money. If you can’t figure that one out, I’m talking about their “watchbelts” and wallets.
The watch straps are basically belts for your wrist, so that seems a logical step. It’s not, however, as easy as simply making pint-sized belts. A standard watchbelt can take up to twice as long to produce as a standard belt, with custom fittings taking 3-5 times longer to perfect. Each strap has to be made to match the particular watch face, not only aesthetically, but because each watch will have a different width and/or way in which the strap attaches to the face. Though they be small in size, there is still a lot of work that goes into getting it right.
A lot of care even goes into the packaging and presentation, which is something that is important when you have clients like Sir Paul Smith to care for, but it certainly does add to the experience of receiving your package from Buck!t.
Though Craig enjoys making custom straps for customers’ existing watches, there are many complete watches to choose from that are ready to go, but this isn’t exactly a production-line with hundreds or thousands of the same watch in a few models being produced. Whether the watch was originally yours or someone else’s, each one will still be one of a kind. How does this work?
I look through hundreds of faces to select a few to buy each time. I choose from quite a range, covering vintage (SEIKO 5 watches are a good bet); modern (nothing too bling or flashy, needs to be elegant or have a good technical feel) and even smartwatches (the Pebbles have been popular!). Sometimes I just like the design / finish of the watch and know that I’ll work out a suitable watchbelt for it; other times I immediately know what watchbelt will suit the face, so it’s done deal. However, if a watch doesn’t appeal to me, I won’t buy it no matter how much someone else may like it – it has to fit within my aesthetic standards! (The architect in me!)
And what about those custom watches? What happens there?
I should first stress that not all tyres can be turned into watch straps, in fact very few are really suitable (mostly tubulars & open-tubulars) as they need to be both supple and slender enough to suit the spring-pin junction to the watch-face. I’m not prepared to compromise on this as an uncomfortable or poorly executed product will not sell itself.
We are soon to be making some very special custom pieces for Lisa Jacobs from her limited edition yellow/green SA-title winning FMB tubulars!
Usually we get a photo of the watch along with dimensions to work to. If it’s a complex/unusual fixing, then the customer might post the watch through to work with. The next step is choosing the right tyre – I’ll make suggestions based on the watch and the customer’s taste (we have many colour options and more than a dozen black tread variations). Lastly, we’ll decide on the hardware – all stainless steel, but with a variety of buckles and chicago screws to choose from, I need to select the right parts to complete the look.
If it’s an unusual watch/strap interface, then I’ll spend some time prototyping a connection to ensure the best fit before making the final version. I don’t hesitate to remake an element if I’m not happy with the finish (I’m quite a perfectionist!); so it can take some time, but the results speak for themselves!
You can see from the pictures that these are indeed of a very high standard, and the wear on the tyre (they’re thoroughly cleaned, keep in mind) adds to the patina and style of the finished product.
So that’s the time. What about the money?
Buck!t has you covered there too. At this point in time, Craig has one design ready to go (the Micro Wallet), but there are others in the works (such as a slightly larger one to better accommodate bills). They fit all forms of plastic, and most sizes of business cards, and if you fold some money up that’ll go in there too. The design feature I like best about them is that they are slim. I hate having things in my pockets, so the less bulky the better.
Again, the finish is really quite high. The stitching all looks robust, the edges are clean, the symmetry is spot-on, and they can be just as custom-ordered as any of Buck!t’s other products (assuming the tyre is in usable condition, of course). From Craig: “unlike many mass-produced sewn items, all the threads in my wallets are hand-knotted & the ends are then sewn-off into the seams by hand to minimize the chance of anything coming undone.”
What if you want a matching set? “There’s plenty of tyre left to make a matching wallet or watchbelt or both! Though as I mentioned before, the kind of tyre suited to a belt is not necessarily suited to a watch-strap. I can however pair up similar styles and details to achieve a matching set, as I did for a customer in the UK with this order”:
Fathers Day is probably cutting it a bit fine and Mothers Day is long gone, but if you need a gift idea for that incredibly hard-to-buy-for cyclist (aren’t they all?), want to immortalize the tyres that brought you through a ride-of-a-lifetime, or just like what you see, take the time to head on over to Buck!t and drop some cash on a good place to put the rest of it.