Coronavirus: In Times of Crisis, Are Watch Brands Helping? And what's in it for you by Sky Sit April 27, 2020 MIN READCoronavirus: In Times of Crisis, Are Watch Brands Helping?
While the watch world is busy with the ongoing “breaking news” of the two fairs and major-brand launches/non-launches, the rest of the world continues to tackle the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you read a lot of watch news, you could be forgiven for thinking the industry is on its knees. Here at Fratello, we’re trying to take a more positive approach. Surely this industry is not just a victim? What about those who have sprung into action to support? We don’t hear much, but there are watch brands, large and small, who have launched initiatives that deserve your attention.
LVMH announced a donation of 16 million Chinese yuan (2.1 million euros) to The Red Cross Society of China to ease the Wuhan crisis back in January. To follow suit, Richemont has pledged 10 million yuan. Meanwhile, Kering has written a cheque for 7.5 million yuan.
LVMH’s watch portfolio company, Bvlgari, has since taken the decision to divert production to making hand-sanitising gels for Italian hospitals and research institutes. In recent weeks, the luxury conglomerate has confirmed a number of their Maisons have repurposed their facilities to make face masks and gowns for hospital staff in France, and later for the general public.
Hermès has chosen to give five million yuan to the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation. This donation honours medical professionals who are fighting on the front line. Another 20 million euros will go to public hospitals in the Paris region. In addition, the brand is producing and donating 30 tons of hand sanitiser and donating more than 31,000 masks.
In light of the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, Chanel is mobilising its resources and partners, turning workshops into factories of protective gear to help bolster supplies in France.
On the other side of the Pacific, Parmigiani has instated a “Helping Heroes” program to contribute to healthcare workers, as well as watch retailers hurt by the pandemic. A tax-free donation to local US healthcare workers can be credited toward a Parmigiani watch — up to its full price. In addition, when a sale comes through the brand’s e-commerce platform, a local retailer is credited with the purchase. The program is live until 30th April.
Oris has launched a social media campaign through May to gift 10 watches per week to “Local Heroes” who are supporting their communities and caring for people affected by COVID-19. Hundreds of nominations have already poured in from all over the world, of not only the frontline workers, but also people supporting their families and communities such as bus drivers, sales clerks, food producers, mothers and fathers. To nominate an Oris Local Hero, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on Instagram tagging #InThisTogether @Orisbear @Oris.
The pandemic is hitting retail hard. It certainly hurts the smaller watch companies who depend on traditional retail stores for revenues. Christopher Ward has a long-term working relationship with MeisterSinger, and has decided to help by offering to sell its products on the Christopher Ward website as an alternative sales outlet. You can shop directly here and enjoy an exclusive 35% discount on a range of MeisterSinger single-hand watches, with 10% of all the sale proceeds going to the Red Cross who are aiding the global crisis.
In the same vein, Louis Erard is stepping up to show solidarity, despite their moderate size and own difficulties. The brand has chosen to support the work that curbs the spread of the virus and treats the disease. This ensures patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information. To that end, 15% of all Louis Erard online sales will be donated to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization. Learn more here.
Over in Switzerland, a wonderful small brand Mauron Musy, known for inventing the world’s first gasket-free watches, believes solidarity and unity are essential values for society. That is the reason for the brand to find within their means to help the battle against the coronavirus. Mauron Musy will donate 10% of its sales to the Swiss Red Cross. You can support this initiative until 30th April. Visit the brand’s website here for more.
Ollech & Wajs Zurich has sent us an update on their relief efforts, following Mike’s highlight on their initiative a couple of weeks ago here. The brand, recognized for its vintage divers, has received orders for 7,500 protection masks. So far it has delivered 4,800 to organizations in Belgium, France, and Italy. These organizations include charities, public servants, ambulances, police agents, administrations, retirement homes, and hospitals.
In addition, they have financed the production of 350 units of 3D printed face visors for hospital workers. The brand has also purchased analog quartz watches for the use of the medical staff of a New York field hospital. While it pledges to increase the volume and pace of mask production, the brand also gives credit to the support and contributions received from others in this effort. For anyone who would like to join forces or has the resources to support, email email@example.com or visit ow-watch.ch.
Under the Radar
Other donations, efforts, and initiatives are no doubt taking place. It may all be flying under the radar because of the commotion surrounding the watch fairs. Or perhaps it is thanks to the typical Swiss hush-hush approach. That said, compared to other luxury goods and automobile sectors, we have not seen actions on a notable scale from the watchmaking industry to support in the fight against the pandemic. Be they from Switzerland, Japan, or other countries. If you know any other brands who are doing their bits behind the scenes, do share with us and let’s make it known.
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About the author
Sky is the founder of SKOLORR, the curated hub dedicated to the pedigreed independent watchmakers. SKOLORR is official partners with Farfetch and Quintessentially, handpicking fine watches from independent brands for tastemakers and coolhunters. Sky has operated at the heart of… read more
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