Hands-On With The Triwa Humanium 39 Automatic Swedish watch made of weapons seized in Latin America by Tomas Rosputinsky May 29, 2020 MIN READHands-On With The Triwa Humanium 39 Automatic
Triwa doesn’t have an awe-inspiring design, but it combines a unique story with a good cause. At the end of last year, the brand added an automatic movement to the family of Humanium watches. Is it a good watch or is it just good marketing?
In the past, there have been watches with dials made of wood or cases made of stone, like the Tissot RockWatch we reviewed on TimeTravel. A few weeks ago Gerard introduced The Gyre SeaCleaner, the world’s first sports watch made out of recycled fishing nets from the Indian Ocean. Swedish Triwa, that you might remember from its April’s Fool Comb-Over watch, took it even one step further. The cases of Triwa Humanium watches are made of metal derived from melted illegal firearms.
Triwa Humanium on Kickstarter
Just like the featured Dutch Gyre, Triwa also used the community project-backing platform Kickstarter to launch the project. The campaign was successful with the first watches delivered before Christmas 2018. Last Christmas, Triwa added an automatic version of the Humanium powered by a Miyota movement. And that’s something that we considered as a perfect candidate for a hands-on review.
The dark brushed case is really appealing. In the middle of the left side you can see the Humanium Metal symbol “Hu“. Anytime I see it I think of the periodic table of elements. It must be the font type and the tight frame in which it sits. The overall visual is very clean and elegant. The only striking elements are the date disc with an unusual red background, the cherry red central seconds hand,, and a dot in the middle of the crown, also in vivid red.
I was not sure about the red date at first. Something about it felt off, but I couldn‘t put my finger on it in the first couple of days. The round aperture is astonishingly small and especially double-digit dates look very tight in it. It feels almost too small for the numbers. I eventually warmed to it, but it did take some getting used to.
On the fourth day, I noticed another detail. The disc appears to sit very deep. It is almost as if it has been sunken into the movement. When you look at it from an angle, you’re really able to appreciate the thickness of the date aperture. I have no doubt this is something to do with the thicker dial construction.
More about production
To turn the watch into reality, Triwa partnered with the non-profit organization IM Swedish Development Partner. IM Swedish Development Partner retrieved and melted down the illegal firearms. These weapons were sourced from conflict-torn societies and turned into Humanium Metal.
To get a deeper understanding of the process behind the watch production, we spoke to Triwa Creative Director Ludvig Scheja. “The seized weapons are melted down into bars in San Salvador. These bars then consist of approximately 98% iron and are then shipped by boat to Sweden where we pulverize the bars and then mix the powder with the remaining components to make it a durable and hypoallergenic stainless steel metal. This metal powder is then injection molded into Humanium watch cases,“ explains Ludvig.
Two years of prototyping
Each metal “brick” weighs 3.8kg, which is the same weight as the legendary weapon AK47. Turning Humanium metal into a watch case was not an easy process. Triwa partnered with a company that makes components for the automotive and airline industries. It took them about two years just to figure out how to handle the metal. It’s quite an interesting process where the metal powder is heated up and then given its final form under intense pressure. I also asked about the material’s longevity. “At the end of the process, the case has the same metal quality as stainless steel, so no doubt it will look good and last for many years,” says Ludvig.
Almost 6,000 illegal firearms have already been turned into “peace metal”. When I looked further into Humanium Metal, I was surprised to find other companies produce buttons, USB cables, smart headphones without any wires, or even design spoons from it. IM has done four destruction programs so far, one each year, starting in 2016. By identifying the serial number of the case back it‘s possible to tell which of these destruction programs the watch is from.
I can imagine that many would-be customers liked the concept of the watch, but were put off by the quartz movement. The Miyota 9015 makes the Humanium 39 a serious contender in the €500 to €750 price bracket. When I put down the non-transparent case back, I was surprised to find a Hu logo stamped on the rotor. Judging the fact that most owners will hardly ever see it, kudos to Triwa to going the extra mile.
Too big or small for you?
The vertically brushed dial surface feels cold and fits the slate gray case. The sapphire glass is perfectly flat. It’s clean, but maybe a bit sterile. I never thought I would ever write this about a modern watch, but 39mm seems too much. So if you read specs and the 39mm is not enough for you, don’t give up, it feels bigger on the wrist. Astoundingly, I am now tempted to try the 34mm version. By the way, do you see a bit of Oak & Oscar when you look at the numbers on the dial too?
The crown reminds me of a revolver cylinder. It’s a nice detail building on the disassembled weaponry. What might surprise you is that the crown screws down. When looking at it from the side, the crown looks like a bullet, with the red dot symbolizing the primer. Organically tanned Swedish leather is thin and soft. In comparison to most standard leather straps fitted on modern watches, it provides a very gentle and comfortable wearing experience.
Coming back to my question at the beginning, Triwa is a decent and honest watch, that offers a story to charm everyone you show it to. If you are looking for a unique dial design, the Triwa Humanium is not the best choice for you. If an innovative approach to material selection and case fabrication is enough, the local Swedish background with El Salvador roots comes as a bonus. I almost forgot to mention that a portion the sales is given back to the society where the firearms were originally collected, supporting the victims of armed violence. So tell me, are you tempted to take a shot on Triwa? Learn more here.
Brand Triwa ModelHumanium 39 AutomaticDialVertically brushed, Slate grey with gold detailsCase MaterialHumanium MetalCase Dimensions39 mmCrystalSapphireCase BackSteelMovementMiyota 9015Water Resistance10 ATMStrap20mm brown organic leatherPrice699 USD Watch of the Week
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About the author
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred… read more
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