The Watch Brands That Are Giving Back
Ming Liu investigates the watch brands giving back.
Watchmakers have long had philanthropic programmes but with Covid-19 some are giving their initiatives a rethink. A recent study by Bain & Company found that 80 per cent of luxury customers prefer brands that are socially responsible – simply reducing environmental impact just won’t cut it anymore. Rolex already has philanthropic DNA: its owner, the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, is a non-profit trust and registered charity. For four decades its Awards for Enterprise has handed grants to environmental and tech pioneers, and for twenty years its Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative has paired up well-known names with aspiring artists to produce collaborative works, from visual arts to dance and film.
And now Rolex has funded Perpetual Music, a series of European classical concerts supporting musicians and singers, who have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. A hundred artists participated, their performances broadcast via Rolex’s partner, the Medici.tv platform. Music is also synonymous with Raymond Weil. This year it relaunched the Don Giovanni Così Grande watch, whose cool dial sets concentric minute and running seconds displays alongside a digital jumping hour. Ten per cent of sale proceeds go to Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest independent music therapy charity, which helps promote communication through music. ‘Now it’s important to keep a positive tune,’ says Elie Bernheim, Raymond Weil’s CEO and grandson of the founder. ‘Our goal is to inspire so that when we meet again, we can get back to an upbeat rhythm.’
The current climate has also highlighted existing work between watch brands and their chosen charities. Bremont has always created limited edition pieces that support a variety of charities, while Nomos Glashütte and Doctors Without Borders Germany have been partners for eight years. In July the watch brand announced new men’s and women’s Ahoi models; €250 (around £227) is donated from each sale, funding 15 protective suits for staff or providing 5,500 people in a refugee camp with essential medications for a week.
Swiss watchmaker Oris is involved in hands-on, water-related, charitable projects, by channelling its expertise in diving watches. Its limited edition Ocean Trilogy watches centre around saving the world’s seas, from protecting species to reducing plastic, while its new, green-dialled Hangang watch aids the clean-up of South Korea’s Hangang river, via sales and sponsored clean-up days on site.
Meanwhile, its steel Carysfort Reef diver watch is the third in a six-year partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation, conserving Florida’s Carysfort Reef. But really it’s just business as usual, says Oris co-CEO Rolf Studer. ‘Luxury has always had a component of giving. But working with people on a high level, creating something, is the contemporary way,’ he says. ‘Integrating causes with the brand and our DNA – that has real meaning.’
Featured Image: Tyler Harris on Unsplash
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