Good News Part II: How The Watch Industry Continues To Pitch In During The Pandemic
Parmigiani Fleurier, Bremont, Frederique Constant, Breitling, and A Collected Man join the growing list of companies that are doing their part for the global community.
As countries begin to ease stay-at-home advisories and some brands begin to reopen manufactures and stores, we wanted to continue to recognize those in the watchmaking community whose initiatives are provoding support and relief during lockdown. Brands, collectors, auction houses, and retailers are still coming up with ways to help support each other and to help build a better, post-COVID-19 future.
WE CAN BE HEROES
Here’s an example of how fundraising initiatives can have a direct impact. Back in April, Parmigiani Fleurier enacted its Helping Heroes program, which encouraged its watch family to make tax-free donations to help healthcare workers around the country by donating to your local communities. In return, those who donated received credit towards a watch, available to use for up to 6 months.
The program raised over $250,000 in donations. While Helping Heroes was valid only in the US and Canada, until April 30, Tennessee's Gus Puryear is just one example of how quickly this kind of effort can have an impact.
While Puryear and his family are based in Nashville, Tennessee, he grew up in Atlanta and attended Emory University, where both of his daughters currently go to college. Within 12 hours of one daughter’s return to school from after a spring break visit home, Gus found he had a high fever, aches, and pains, while his daughter was experiencing a bad cough, a slight fever, and respiratory issues.
Recognizing the symptom cluster, the Student Health Services at Emory tested the daughter for COVID-19. The test came back positive. While Gus was not tested, it was clear he had it also. They were both sick for about 9 days, and along the way, his daughter had to visit the emergency room at Emory University Hospital when her symptoms worsened. Fortunately, their blood oxygen levels were good, so she did not require admission.
“Gratitude can kindle generosity, and my wife and I had talked about doing something small to help those on the front-lines of health care, as well as those working hard to find therapeutic options or vaccines. The Parmigiani Fleurier Helping Heroes program gave us a gentle nudge to get that done!”
After reading about the program online, he reached out to Parmigiani Fleurier’s boutique in Miami, Florida. “Neither my wife nor I could believe that Parmigiani would essentially allow a dollar-for-dollar match for a COVID-19 related charitable donation,” said Gus. “I had long thought about buying a Parmigiani watch but had not done so. We both thought this was an amazing program!”
Back in March, amid concerns that the National Health Service (NHS) could run short on ventilators, Bremont stepped-up and offered the government their services. Specifically, the British luxury watchmaker offered to convert its watchmaking manufacture in Henley-on-Thames and its machining and assembly facility in Ruscombe to help with the manufacturing of ventilator parts.
Speaking with the Henley Standard, Bremont co-founder Nick English, noted that that watchmaking facilities are already dust-proof sites, saying, “There’s a very similar skillset between the medical and watchmaking industry – you’re machining and assembling parts, often in a very sterile environment.”
While waiting for the British government to respond to the offer, English emphasized, "We’re good at manufacturing precision parts, we’re good at assembly, and we’re good at testing. If there are any parts, big or small, if we can possibly help out, we’d be delighted to. I think, at times like these, if you have got something which can be used it’s worth putting your hand up."
In the meantime, Bremont is also selling a limited edition bracelet to raise funds for Food4Heroes, an organization that provides 20,000 meals per week to NHS workers on the front line. These friendship bracelets are available for £35 each HERE.
THE NEXT GENERATION
Recently, Frederique Constant opted to support future watch enthusiasts and their families with a donation of $20,000 to Keep Kids Learning, a new program supporting underprivileged children to continue their education through virtual learning programs during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
This donation will help the brand’s ongoing partner DonorsChoose, the group that launched Keep Kids Learning and, more broadly, assists public school teachers across the United States by raising funds for academic supplies for cash strapped school boards.
This extra donation from Frederique Constant will make sure that teachers and students have the tools they need to learn remotely for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year.
Back in April, Breitling introduced the Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition during its global digital summit, and this rainbow-themed beauty sold out immediately. The popularity of this timepiece inspired Breitling to launch a second edition, the Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II, this time with a blue dial, limited to 1,000 pieces.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of this edition will be donated to charities supporting the frontline healthcare workers in some of the world’s hardest-hit countries. You can read more about the Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition II and Breitling’s support of frontline healthcare workers on Watchonista HERE.
This week, London-based online watch sellers A Collected Man is running a unique online auction to raise funds for COVID-Zero Research Initiative, which aims to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
For one lucky bidder, the prize is an oversized illustration of Francois-Paul Journe’s first wristwatch from 1991. The drawing is the work of Canadian artist Julie Kraulis, who specializes in pencil portraits of fine watches, and is signed by Journe, himself.
This highly detailed drawing depicts the the No.1 Tourbillon with Remontoir d’Egalité, which was essentially a prototype of his tourbillon and constant force mechanism. There is also a wonderful Easter egg in this illustration: Kraulis included a magnified view of the patented remontoir mechanism.
Measuring about 65 cm by 100 cm and created using graphite pencils, the drawing required 300 hours to complete.
The sale of this illustration is also supported by Journe, who inscribed a message at the bottom of the canvas in late 2018. The auction will be live until midnight (GMT+1) on May 31, 2020. To bid, visit Acollectedman.com.