Watch manufactures don’t only sponsor events, athletes or actors, they also use their unique position to bring awareness to environmental issues, medical research and other foundations to support people and the world. This Thanksgiving and holiday season, we’re focusing on brands giving back.
Benefiting the World
The watch brands are able to leverage its visibility to raise awareness for different causes they are passionate about. Here are just a few brands releasing special edition watches to benefit the world.
IWC has a philosophy rooted in both social and environmental responsibility; they see long term success dependent on the care and respect given to both people and the natural world. Not only do they source materials used on their watches responsibly, they have a code of conduct for their suppliers. In addition to their longstanding priorities with raw materials, IWC also focuses in on giving back; specifically with both the Laureus Foundation and their partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation benefiting the Galapagos Islands.
Laureus Sport for Good Foundation
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation brings people together using sports to break down barriers and to change the world for the better. Within this, they have the Laureus World Sports Academy, with 46 living sporting legends from football to skateboarding and motor racing. Over 1.5 million children and adolescents have been involved in more than 140 projects world wide.
Every year since 2006, IWC has produced limited edition watches honoring the Laureus Foundation. Each watch features a special engraving on the case back relating to the foundation. What is unique about the engravings is that it is based on a winning drawing organized by IWC for children involved in different Laureus projects.
Galapagos Islands & The Charles Darwin Foundation
IWC has had a long standing partnership with the CDF, a research organization in the Galapagos Islands. IWC uses this partnership to donate to but also uses it’s visibility to raise awareness for the foundation and to get feedback on watches in real world conditions. Unique Galapagos models are released benefiting the foundation.
Two standout pieces benefiting the CDF were the 2014 Aquatimer “50 Years Science for Galapagos” featuring an engraving of a Giant Tortoise and limited to just 500 pieces. Also released in 2014 was the Aquatimer Chronograph “Expedition Charles Darwin” which featured the first bronze case for IWC as well as a case back engraving of Charles Darwin himself. Most recently, the Galapagos edition Aquatimer was released with an engraving of an iguana on the case back.
Like many of the brands on our list, Omega sees the importance in educating about our oceans. Omega has partnered with GoodPlanet and sponsored the Planet Ocean film and helped make it possible to create the Ocean Programme. This was launched in 2012 and raises awareness while taking action to gain a better understanding of issues surrounding ocean preservation.
In 2013, Omega launched the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m GMT GoodPlanet which donates proceeds towards developing coastal conservation and restoration with the “Time for the Planet” conservation projects. The Planet Ocean 600 Good Planet, features a blue lacquered dial with bright orange details.
Few areas of the ocean remain unaltered by human influence and Blancpain has partnered with the National Geographics Pristine Seas Expeditions to bring awareness to the project and ocean conservation. In 2013, the two conducted an expedition to explore the Desventuradas, one of the last potentially pristine marine environments in South America. Blancpain has helped the initiative grow across the oceans to the point where more than 2.5 million square kilometers are now protected.
Blancpain’s connection with diving goes back to 1953 with the Fifty Fathoms and for more than 60 years, they have been raising awareness through ocean exploration. Each year, a limited edition Fifty Fathoms publication is released dedicated to the underwater world. Blancpain also supports the World Ocean Summit every year. In 2014, a Ocean Commitment limited edition Bathyscape Chronographe, of just 250 pieces, was released.
Since 2012, Nomos Glashutte has been supporting the Medcins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). Nomos has created special timepieces, originally focusing in Germany but has since expanded to the USA and United Kingdom. Two limited edition models are produced for each country. You can read more about the watches and their partnership in our blog released earlier this year giving an overview of the most recent releases.
Taking a different approach to fighting for a cause, Zenith has partnered with the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to fight against Prostate cancer. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was launched in 2012, inspired by a photo of Mad Men’s Don Draper standing alongside a classic bike wearing a fine suit. Since then, on the last Sunday in September, dapper men from 64 cities around the world take part in the yearly ride, raising funds.
Zenith has partnered with the DGR and has created a special “Zenith Watches Team” where the team stands out with a unique armband, stickers and beret. The team member who raises the most also receives a Zenith Pilot Ton-Up DGR special edition watch. The partnership has been described as an “ideal partner…[sharing] common values related to style and leisure” by the founder of the DGR. In 2016, to mark their partnership, they rode together into Baselworld where the announcement of their partnership was made.
In keeping with their dive watch tradition, Oris partnered with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) to help protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef. Funded by the sales of their limited edition diver’s watch, the Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition, Oris makes donations to the vital work. Oris has been working with the AMCS since 2010 to help keep fisheries sustainable and keeping oceans free from pollution.
The latest edition launched in early 2016, the Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition II, takes the Oris Aquis 46mm stainless steel case and combines a blue dial with yellow minute track, seconds hand and date. The color is reminiscent of both fish found on the reef and the bright colors of different coral species. The watch is limited to just 2000 pieces and comes in a special box with certificate.
Bonus Auctions and Watches
In 2013, Jaeger-LeCoultre created two custom watches for a Sotheby’s auction for the RED Campaign to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The two models included the Atmos 561 clock and a Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea; both featuring a special red accent color.
Historically, the watch manufacture has also been a partner in the Tides of Time, an innovative campaign about World Heritage sites launched in 2008 with UNESCO and the International Herald Tribune. This included a short video released in 2009 featuring eight sites around the world.
Only Watch Charity Auction
While not specifically a watch brand or model designed to benefit a charity, Only Watch has been designed as a luxury watch auction that happens every two years. Unique timepieces are created and donated by watchmakers for research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Since 2005, the concept of Only Watch has been to create an exceptional and one-off piece to be auctioned. This combines the talent of watchmakers, quest for excellence and some healthy competition between manufacturers. Only Watch has attracted world wide media coverage and showcases extraordinary watchmaking skills, benefiting scientific and medical research.
From their inception, the auction has reached € 10,450,000 (approximately $11,100,000, and not including the 2015 auction results) and has featured watches from Blancpain, F.P. Journe, Hermès, IWC, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and many, many more. You can learn more about Only Watch and see all the watches from the 2015 auction online.