Love, Loss, And Watches: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Tribute
I’ve said it many times, and Quill & Pad colleague Joshua Munchow set it out beautifully in his commentary on this year’s Basel fair: this hobby ostensibly centers on the watches, but in reality it’s all about the people.
In this instance, several people, all related in some way to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s recent unveiling of a unique Grande Reverso Lady Ultra Thin bearing the logo of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
The first person in this story is friend, fellow collector, and photographer Howard Parr. Howard has been for many years the expert moderator for the Jaeger-LeCoultre forum on Timezone, and is a splendid guy to boot.
Inspired by the memory of his late stepmother, Libby Parr, and her courage in the face of ovarian cancer, Howard undertook a photographic journey to capture images of other women who are fighting ovarian cancer, showing their strength, determination, and joy for life.
The resulting images are both beautiful and inspiring.
The second person in the story is Philippe Bonay, president of Jaeger-LeCoultre North America, who with his team at JLC has joined with Howard and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) in the effort to fight this deadly disease.
On May 15, Jaeger-LeCoultre kicked off its collaboration with OCNA at an event that featured the auction of the unique Grande Reverso pictured above.
During his comments, Philippe said, “I witnessed first-hand with my mother the passion for life that women display when fighting ovarian cancer.” More love, more loss – something that I never knew about Philippe but that immediately builds a bond of empathy.
The third person? Well, she’s a little closer to home for me: my late first wife, Linda. As a friend once said, Linda was “the perfect wife for the younger Gary”: car buddy, mountain climbing buddy, motorcycle buddy, golf buddy, and, yes, watch buddy.
Both she and I were mostly lacking in domestic skills and inclinations, so the kitchen at home was more or less permanently closed. Our interior decoration consisted of a hodgepodge of items, each of which seemed really cool at the place and time at which it was purchased. But did we have a blast!
The fun hit a bit of a damper when Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. However, she battled through that and had passed the five-year remission point when the bad news came: mild sensations of abdominal discomfort, when finally checked out, were the only symptoms of what turned out to be the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer.
They call ovarian cancer the silent killer for a reason: there is no reliable diagnostic test, and the symptoms are so subtle that they are often missed, dismissed, or misdiagnosed.
The two-year battle that ensued was nothing short of remarkable, and Linda’s sheer will and love for life kept her going, and active, until the very last. I won’t recount all of the stories here, but what I can’t help but remember is how many times we laughed – howled! – at some incongruous event or medical indignity.
Oh – did I mention that Linda wore a Reverso?
There it is: a Reverso Lady in yellow gold, on the matching bracelet, with a simple initial engraved on the back by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designated engraver in North America, J.C. Randell.
We were on vacation in Paris and had been separated for a few minutes when Linda, in a state of excitement, grabbed me and dragged me into the old Bry & Cie. shop on Rue de la Paix that is now the site of the IWC boutique.
I knew that look in her eye – we were about to be in acquisition mode, as restraint was never one of her strengths.
That day, we bought not only her Reverso, but my first Jaeger-LeCoultre as well – the original Reverso Duoface in steel with the sweet honey ostrich strap. That day really launched my serious watch collecting “career” – soon after, I added the first-generation Géographique (a watch that I still own and treasure) and just went from there.
The Reverso wasn’t Linda’s only Jaeger-LeCoultre, either. Her daily wearer was a ladies’ Albatros, a thin-line bracelet watch with a hexagonal case that was bequeathed to a good friend and I’m sure is still much-loved today.
Love, loss, and watches! Funny how our horological passions lead us to deeper connections with others in myriad ways. All that I can say is that I will definitely be on the lookout for one of the limited number of teal straps to be sold later this year by Jaeger-LeCoultre with a portion of the proceeds going to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
Teal is the campaign color of those fighting ovarian cancer through awareness-building, fund-raising, and medical research – and most importantly, of the courageous women fighting the “silent killer” on a daily basis.
I will be proud to wear it, and hope that every time someone notices the color on my wrist, it presents an opportunity to build awareness and advance the fight.
Side note on the partnership
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s partnership will continue in September 2014, which is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. At this point in time, Jaeger-LeCoultre will host two events featuring Howard Parr’s photography at the Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques in Beverly Hills and South Coast Plaza, California.
The brand will donate 10 percent of sales to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance for seven days following each event.
In addition, as noted above, Jaeger-LeCoultre has created ten unique teal-colored alligator leather straps (five for women and five for men), which will also be for sale in the fall of 2014. Ten percent of the sales from these will also be donated to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
For more information, please visit www.ovariancancer.org.