All for a worthy cause

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 November, 2009, 12:00am

The ethics of corporate social responsibility have become an inherent part of business. It's important to be seen to 'give a little back' and upmarket watch brands would have plenty of worthy causes knocking on their doors. The challenge for most brands is finding a charity or cause that matches its ethos and designing a product unusual enough to generate funds for its chosen charity.

Corum designed a special Ti-bridge watch for the Only Watch Auction in Monaco on September 24. The Only Watch Auction is held every two years under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco. This year 34 top watchmaking brands made special watches, prototypes or the first of a limited series for the auction. Nearly Euro2.5 million (HK$28.8 million) were collected from the auction.

All the proceeds from Only Watch go to support research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a seriously debilitating genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,500 males. The disease is characterised by a weakening of the muscles, respiratory and cardiac problems which can become fatal as the child gets older.

Antonio Calce, Corum chief executive, feels strongly about the project and the cause.

'The Only Watch project is a great opportunity given to prestigious watchmakers to create special pieces beyond the limits, and this is a project that really counts for Corum and for me. Every child has the right to believe their dreams will become reality; that is why we really want to support the research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. And to follow Corum's credo, I would say, where there is passion, great achievement is within reach.'

The CO 007 movement of the Ti-Bridge was inspired by the Golden Bridge calibre. Whereas the shape is immediately recognisable, the dimensions, components and the technical characteristics are all completely different. The bridges and plates are cut from titanium and are black physical vapour deposition (PVD) coated and the watch has a 72-hour power reserve. The Ti-Bridge is teamed with a black crocodile strap with raspberry pink hand-made stitching.

On the caseback, Corum has engraved a famous quote from Antoine de St-Exup?ry taken from the book Le Petit Prince that says, Les enfants seuls savent ce qu'ils cherchent meaning 'only children know what they are looking for'.

Zenith was another brand to participate in the Only Watch auction. Zenith presented a New Vintage 1969 in steel and its price climbed rapidly during the auction and was finally sold for Euro10,000, 31 per cent higher than its retail value.

Zenith said it was honoured to be able to participate in the success of this auction and contribute towards the research of finding a cure for the disease. Bulgari is celebrating its 125th birthday this year and to mark the occasion it has collaborated with the charity, Save the Children, to raise funds for its Rewrite the Future programme. Since 2005, Rewrite the Future has improved the quality of education for 10.6 million children affected by conflict and emergencies worldwide.

The funds will be raised through two initiatives - one through the sale of a special edition silver ring and pendant and the second will be through the auction of 18 pieces of Bulgari jewellery and watches. The auction will be conducted by Christie's in New York on December 8 and all of the proceeds will go to Save the Children.

The limited edition Sotirio Bulgari Annual Calendar watch is one of the 18 pieces that will be auctioned that night.

The company said it had 'taken a commitment towards the education of children for a long time and has decided to promote initiatives aiding youth education throughout the world'.

'Save the Children's Rewrite the Future campaign has been recently relaunched; therefore celebrating our 125th anniversary supporting such a significant project seemed to us the best way and occasion to put our desires in concrete form.

'The objective for Bulgari is to raise Euro10 million by the end of 2009, of which Euro1 million had already been donated at the time of the official announcement on October 30, 2008. Bulgari fosters a culture that encourages environmentally and socially responsible behaviour. Promoting charity events and initiatives around the world is the best way for us to spread and put into practice these values.'

Many charities would run into the ground without corporate backing and even though there is no obligation to give to charity, many companies feel a moral responsibility to support worthy causes.

Chopard has a high-profile relationship with the Elton John Aids Foundation. It has released the Elton John Watch Collection to support the foundation and new models have been launched this year.

The Elton John Aids Foundation is an international non-profit organisation funding programmes that help to alleviate the physical, emotional and financial hardship of those living with, affected by or at risk of HIV/Aids. The foundation was formed primarily to look after the needs of people living in Britain but, during the past 14 years, the organisation has extended the scope of its work and now works in 17 countries in four continents. To date, the foundation has raised ?40 million (HK$515.8 million).

To mark Chopard's 10 years of support of the Elton John Aids Foundation, Chopard's co-president Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele designed a new collection in collaboration with the singer. The new Elton John designed chronograph combines all the qualities of a classic Chopard model. Then to add a bit of pizzazz they feature black, brown or pink crocodile leather straps and are decorated with a mix of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. A percentage of the profits from the sale of these watches is to be donated to the cause.

'I have always admired Elton John as an artist of incomparable talent,' Gruosi-Scheufele said. 'We first met at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival and it was then that I chose to support his fight against Aids.

'The new chronograph which we have created together truly is The Elton watch - a watch that reflects both his personality and his generosity.

'The fight against Aids is an ongoing struggle, tirelessly pursued by the Elton John Aids Foundation.'