Silence Is Complicity: How The #WatchFam Is Standing Behind Ukraine
Many, if not most of us, have been feeling the way that Dan-Andrei Kluska is feeling right now about Ukraine: helpless, sad, lonely, helpless, outraged, mournful, helpless, despairing, disconsolate, and grief-stricken. Oh, and did I mention helpless?
It doesn’t take much to see how everyone is suffering, most of all the citizens of Ukraine. On Instagram and other social media channels, members of the #watchfam have been making posts about standing together and uniting for Ukraine. But as individuals there is very little we can do aside from show support and donate time, money, and goods to charities and organizations set up to aid Ukrainians in need. I’m proud that so many people I know are doing what they can.
One example is the “Ukrainian Rolex” that my friend and Fratello contributor Balazs Ferenczi photoshopped together and posted on his social media accounts. This led to @the_art_of_horology reaching out to him to design a sticker together – which they’ve named “Glory to Ukraine” – with all proceeds from the sales going to a charity called Save the Children, which aids children caught in the conflict.
Another example is my good friend (and sometime contributor to Quill & Pad) Jan Lidmaňský and the Czech publication he works for, which held an auction over the past week in support of Ukraine involving an SKX donated from the Seiko community, which raised €3,000. The Czech edition of Forbes auctioned a customized Bohematic Graphic Sutnar model reflecting Ukraine’s national colors for approximately €70,000 (the value of which is normally under about €5,000) through Twitter, while Czech manufacture Prim created and auctioned ten quartz watches online, which raised about €7,000.
But back to Dan-Andrei, who has now written an open letter to the watch industry about how he feels. “We are living at a turning point in history. Are we doomed to repeat what happened in 1939? Many reasons given for this atrocity are similar . . . the difference is that back then it was just a frustrated art ‘student’ while now we have a killing machine. Back then, the weapons of mass destruction were virtually none, while now they can erase life as we know it,” he wrote to me and others in an email.
“I am writing to you hours later than I first intended. After repeated empty messages I have sent to a watch enthusiast and young watch journalist, I lost contact with him last evening. He was in a bomb shelter in Kyiv. I hope he is not dead . . . I feel bad that I could sleep last night.”
In his open letter, Dan-Andrei is asking us – the members of the watch industry – to stand up against a war that might bring death and destruction to our door. “For some, it is already in your home, if it’s still standing. It is a war, and you need to take sides. If companies like BP, Shell, Exxon, Boeing, Apple, Ford, Mercedes, etc. can make a stand, and moreover lose billions in assets and investment, why can you not just express against war? As mentioned, a #stopwar or #makelovenotwar would mean much more than you can imagine.”
Meanwhile, though, in the time since Dan-Andrei has expressed his views, luxury groups LVMH and Kering have released statements and actions in support of Ukraine. LVMH writes on its Instagram account: “The LVMH Group is closely monitoring the tragic situation in Ukraine and stands alongside all those severely affected by this war. The Group’s first concern is the safety of its 150 employees in Ukraine and is providing them with essential financial and operational assistance. LVMH has today also decided to make a first emergency donation of five million euros to support the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help the direct and indirect victims of this conflict. In addition, the Group is launching a fundraising campaign in support of the ICRC to facilitate the contributions of employees across the Group and its 76 maisons. The LVMH Heart Fund, launched in 2021, has been specifically activated to provide financial and psychological support to all employees, especially those directly affected by this conflict. The LVMH Group’s crisis committee is constantly tracking the situation and will adapt its measures as needed.”
And Kering, owner of Gucci and previous owner of Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, writes on its Instagram account: “In order to contribute to humanitarian efforts to bring aid and support to Ukrainian refugees, Kering will make a significant donation to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugees Agency. We hope for a peaceful resolution of this conflict.”
You can read Dan-Andrei Kluska’s open letter to the watch industry below, as we have reprinted it here, or by clicking to go to his blog, Watch I Love.
Dan-Andrei Kluska’s open letter to the watch industry
My name is Dan-Andrei Kluska, and I am the owner of the online publication Watch I Love Magazine.
Over the last few days, I have watched the news in horror. I have lost sleep, I have cried a lot, and I feel that I have been paralyzed by the eruption of war in Europe. After the first shock wave passed, and my tears dried, I started to think about the future and I was sincerely fearful because a nuclear war would wipe out humanity as we know it.
When I came back to my senses, I realized that I could help. I have sent money to organizations that are directly helping those adversely impacted (in my case Romania since it’s my home country). I have received hundreds of messages asking if I, from more than 1,000 kilometers away, can help in any way (forwarding a message or forwarding money). My feeling of calm was short-lived. The second wave of crying and despair hit when I saw that apart from soldiers, this merciless war kills civilians, children, and their pets (cats, dogs, etc.). The Ukrainian authorities have reported the deaths of some 300 children, and that was yesterday’s (now) obsolete tally.
As all of this was unfolding, my social media feed was equally full of fashion shows and news from the watch industry. And I started to wait for a statement, a reaction, something to show that these “luxury” brands in these industries are against not just this war, but all war. But nothing has come.
I know that many of you (watch brands) consider Russia a major market. I know that . . . I can see a certain leader’s watch when he says that he has no problem pushing the button, triggering a nuclear end to the world. I am not asking you to completely forget one of your most important markets.
With that said, I am asking you to show respect for the fallen and to take a stand against war. I am not expecting so much. Even #stopwar or #givepeaceachance would go a very long way. I am not asking you to take sides or point fingers. I am just asking you to show just a little bit of mercy to those who will be left without their children, brothers, sisters, parents, or their loving pets.
I know that you can do that much. You were there for #blacklivesmatter, for #pridemonth, and for #notredame. And in truth, you even made money from these social actions, you speculated on people’s affinities or sense of despair. And I know you can also cut ties with the Russian market because others have already done it despite huge financial losses.
I do not hate the Russian people and do not wish to fight against that great country. I am, however, asking you to stand up and be counted against war and to help the poor souls that need your support the most.
These past few days I have seen various ways of showing support for the people in need and various ingenious ways to say #makelovenotwar. So, it is possible. But up to this point, you have decided to stick your heads in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening. Are you afraid of losing money?
Then let’s try an exercise in imagination:
First scenario: war will engulf the whole of Europe – will you continue to sell to a dictator and his supporters, to a country that commits genocide?
Second scenario: Russia is completely locked down under trade embargos – will you find illegal ways to sell your luxury products to a bunch of pariahs?
Third scenario: the red button is pushed, and we glow in the dark – who will you sell watches to in a desolate wasteland?
So, this is what I am asking you: Why are you so quiet? Are you pro war? Are you pro death and destruction? Can you sleep at night with blood money in your pockets?
Your current silence says yes . . .
In this case, I want to have nothing to do with you. I will use my time to write against war. I will use my money to help those who need it the most.
And for all rest of you, dear journalists, and people of PR, I am asking you – what is your plan? Go to Geneva and see nice watches for the Russian market and drink champagne while women, children, and animals are killed in a useless war? Stay in four- and five-star hotels costing thousands and tens of thousands of Swiss francs while old people and mothers with children are marching in thirst and hunger for days to escape death and destruction?
I will not!
What might the future bring? I don’t know. I just hope and pray to any god that I can find for understanding, for peace, for love.
From now on, my platform Watch I Love Magazine will be used only for those brands and people that showed, in one way or another, support for peace and for people in need.
I am saying this with not so heavy a heart because my conscience is clear. Until now I have spent my time and resources sharing the joy of watchmaking. I have been so committed that I have published every day, even from a hospital bed and kept the publication alive. But now this will stop. It is time to reflect on what is important in life, on what really matters.
And when it comes to war there is no grey area – you are against it or you are not. And your silence, dear watch industry, shows not fear but greed.
I beg you please, prove me wrong.
Yours truly, Andrei
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Thank you for sharing my message and for your heartwarming thoughts.
Dear #watchfam, we are struggling to find more ways to help the poor souls under the siege of a tiran. Thank you to all of you. I never been so grateful: an impressive amount of people jumped to help and every gesture counts.
Unfortunately, the death toll is, with each moment, dramatically raised, more than one million people is running for their lives. We have to unite our efforts even more.
#lovewatchesnotwar #peaceforukraine #peace
Thank you for your impetus and passion for this, Andrei. #peaceforukraineandtheworld
‘Silence is violence’ is one of the most chilling phases to enter common parlance. Everyone sticking a yellow and blue flag up is endorsing a corrupt puppet regime that has been bombing the east for years, jailing journalists and is now forcing their untrained civilians to take up arms against a world class military – all for a photo op.
You are propagatig russian propaganda, from a country that is used to kill any opposition, jail children and separate them from their mothers because of flowers to UA embassy. Sincerely I hope you, and all those that speak in the name of a dictator and his uber rich and corrupted friends to be smashed to minced meat.
SP is right. Ukraine is criminal corructed state with american puppet Zelensky. Ukraine is bombing their own population telling Russians did that.
Putin’s army is anything but a world class military – they are getting their @$$es handed to them by the combined efforts of the Ukraine army and the civilian citizens of Ukraine.
The bulk of Russian troops are very poorly trained conscripts who have never been to war. Entire platoons are laying down their weapons and surrendering. Russian tanks are running out of fuel and sitting idly on roadways and many Russian troops are going hungry for lack of food.
Not a world class military by any stretch of the imagination.
If we’ve learnt anything from the last few decades it’s that multinational corporations simply don’t give a damn about anything except increasing profit, no matter how much profit they are already making.
I’m not sure that’s true today Tam, certainly not in regard to short-term profit anyway. Many large multinationals are pulling out of Russia and incurring enormous costs in doing so. LVMH has €5 million to Ukrainian relief and Kering is donating to the UN Refugee Agency. And I’m sure more will follow. They may well be just protecting their long-term interests, but so do we all.
Can you explain why nazies of all Europe (proven fact) are hurring to help Ukraine as mercenaries? Didn’t you know that or you are just nazi supporter?
That’s an interesting theory. It may surprise you to learn that Nazis are not popular in Europe and America either. If Ukraine really was controlled by Nazis (confusingly though their president is a jew), then the rest of the world would be cheering Russia on. Besides Putin saying that, what shred of evidence is there for the Nazi claim? And if it was true, surely the Ukrainian people would be cheering in the streets as the Russians came to liberate them from their Nazi rulers rather than fighting the Russian aggressors. keep in mind that Ukraine did not invade Russia to start this war, Russia invaded Ukraine.
One of the best aspects of this website, apart from its excellent content, is the admirable approach to moderating. But could we please delete Russian propaganda?
They’re doing that to protect sales elsewhere.
Russia is on the right side. I know you’re totally brainwashed by Western propaganda telling you about bad Putin who attack poor democratic Ukraine. But it’s lie. You know nothing about Donbass. Their ppl were dying during last 8 years because of Ukrainian army. Check on youtube “Gorlovskaya Madonna” to see the results of ukrainian attacks. Also you know nothing about nazies in Ukraine who are backbone of ukrainian army. In fact you know nothing.
Even if you are right, does that give one country the right to invade another?
I sincerely hope that you are getting paid for each post, because your salary is the only thing that could conceivably benefit from these pathetic screeds of nonsense. Certainly nobody who reads this excellent magazine is uneducated or bigoted enough to fall for them.
One question to you. Russia could without any effort take Donbas and Lugansk just like they did with Kim. Why they didn`t do it AND SETTLED WITH IT. Why they attack Kiev, why they bomb places 100km from polish border,why????
p.s. no world in this era of internet doesn`t know anything about Donbas.
I appreciate what Andrei has said, but it could be simply stated; what, if anything, are the major watch companies doing to protest this atrocity? Save a few relatively minor exceptions, the silence is deafening,
Selling a few watches with blue and gold straps is disingenuous at best. Where are the boycotts or even Red Cross contributions?
I’ve just learned that Cartier has made a significant contribution and also as of March 3 stopped sales in Russia.
How about McDonald’s closing the restaurants yet paying THE RUSSIAN WORKERS to go support the war effort against the rest of Europe !? Mind blowing treachery ! 62k “workers” now freed up to go build tanks etc . Like I said mind blowing !