5 Ways Watch Brands Are Providing COVID-19 Support
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the best way for us to help is just to stay home and social distance. Which actually means physical distance.
And that’s something, like it or not, that we have all probably become rather good at.
But if you’re a wealthy watch brand, or a global corporation owning luxury watch companies, you can surely do more.
And it is great to see some of these firms stepping up to the plate and doing some real good, which I’d like to highlight here.
1. Retailer aid and more by Parmigiani Fleurier
Unveiling its Helping Heroes program on April 15, Parmigiani Fleurier’s U.S. branch has designed an initiative to support both North American healthcare institutions and ailing watch retailers who have had to close their brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic.
This program is different from one that donates proceeds of a watch bought because it allows consumers to choose the recipient of the donation and officially goes through the authorized Parmigiani retailer.
The donation is used as credit toward the purchase of a Parmigiani watch, and a client is even able to donate the equivalent of the full price of the selected watch. This donation program is only active until April 30, 2020, and clients can contact their local retailers for more information and the list of eligible watches.
“The Helping Heroes program is a small way we can encourage individuals to give back to our healthcare workers and stand together,” says Gustavo Calzadilla, president of Parmigiani Fleurier Americas. “It is our hope that the program will sway those who were considering making a donation to act on it.”
Additionally, Parmigiani has designed a new platform for North American retailers suffering from the closure of their stores. This program only valid for the United States and Canada allows retailers/jewelers working at home to source watches for clients, and for clients to purchase from the safety of their homes. The logistics are taken care of by Parmigiani.
For more information, please visit www.parmigianiamericas.com.
2. Large donations to COVID-19 relief efforts
On March 30, 2020, French fashion powerhouse Hermès announced it would donate a whopping €20 million to Paris-area public hospitals. France has been hit particularly hard, so it is heart-warming to see a family-run company like this give back in such a generous way.
As Vogue reported on March 30, Chanel has likewise pledged €1.2 million to Paris’ hard-hit public hospitals in addition to donating 50,000 masks to hospital staff. Perhaps just as importantly, Chanel has also pledged not to send any of its 8,500 employees into partial employment through May 8 and to maintain 100 percent of their salaries.
Ralph Lauren is likewise donating a large sum in its native country as WWD reported, committing $10 million to several initiatives: the Emergency Assistance Foundation for Ralph Lauren employees and the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund among them.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation committed $1 million in support of the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund ($750,000) and the New York Community Trust’s NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund ($250,000). Tiffany also pledges to match employee donations to any qualified nonprofit supporting the disease’s relief dollar for dollar.
Graff has also donated $1 million to of the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund – as has Gucci. The Italian fashion brand has also donated an additional €1 million to Italy’s Civil Protection Department, which reinforces the country’s health services, and 1.1 million masks and 55,000 medical coveralls to Italian hospitals and health care institutions.
David Yurman’s Family Foundation has likewise committed $1 million to U.S. COVID-19 relief efforts, although it must be noted that the brand has also furloughed a majority of its staff according to reporting by WWD.
3. Repurposing factories to make ventilators, hand sanitizer, and masks
In addition to its extremely generous financial support mentioned above, Hermès has also repurposed its perfume factory in Vaudreuil to make more than 30 tons of hand sanitizer and other factory locations to manufacture more than 31,000 masks.
Bulgari, Zenith, Hublot, and TAG Heuer parent company LVMH repurposed its perfume factories to manufacture around 50 tons per week of hand sanitizer for French hospitals, which it donated. It also secured millions of face masks for the French hospitals. Bulgari also repurposed its fragrance production to produce hand sanitizer to give to Italian medical facilities; the brand plans to make hundreds of thousands of recyclable 75 ml bottles. On April 10, Louis Vuitton (the “LV” in “LVMH”) announced the repurposing of its workshops to produce nonsurgical masks and gowns for healthcare professionals.
“I believe as a major economic actor and symbol of Italy, Bulgari has a responsibility to contribute to the national effort to help prevent, fight, and eradicate COVID-19,” said Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin in a statement. “Thanks to our fragrance expertise, we have been able to develop together with ICR a ‘hand cleansing gel with sanitizer’ that will be manufactured in our Lodi Factory already making our high-end perfumes and hotel amenities. Aware of the difficult situation we are experiencing, we believe it is our duty to contribute with our know-how and production facilities and we thank the Italian Civil Protection Department, who will take care of the collection and distribution.”
Bloomberg reported on March 22 that Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, and Gucci parent company Kering has repurposed its Balenciaga and Saint Laurent workshops to make masks for French hospitals. While production ramped up, the company donated 3 million masks purchased from China. The same article reported that Gucci had been seeking approval to produce masks for Italy.
Independent brand Bremont has applied to the British government to assist by repurposing its facilities to make ventilators but reports that it has not yet been called upon to do so.
4. Making people a little bit happier while honoring those who deserve it
Oris has been running a campaign on its social media, notably Instagram, in which people may nominate a “local hero” using the hashtags #InThisTogether, #OrisBear, and #Oris. Oris then draws from the entries, gifting the winning local hero a free watch.
As of April 14, 2020, ten such souls have received free watches, hopefully brightening their long days of helping others. Oris has 50 more to give, so get busy and nominate your local hero!
5. Donations from watch sales
Every little bit helps, which is why I’d like to point out that some brands are donating portions of watch sales to aid the world in fighting this new disease.
In its latest Kickstarter campaign, the reborn Ikepod is donating 2 percent of turnover to fighting COVID-19. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, I’d like to submit that for a startup with rather affordable timepieces it’s a lot more than many others are doing.
Louis Erard is donating 15 percent of online sales to the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
While Bremont is not donating portions of watch sales, it has created a new bracelet to raise funds for Britain’s Food4Heroes, which supports the country’s medical healthcare workers with nutritious meals. All proceeds from the sales of the limited edition £35 bracelet are donated to this charity.