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Coronavirus: How Watch Brands Are 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. 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.


Independent Houses

Hermès has pledged five million yuan to the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation to honour medical professionals 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. They are 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. Also, when a sale comes through the brand’s e-commerce platform, a local retailer is credited with the purchase.

Oris has launched a social media campaign 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 socialmedia@oris.ch or post it on Instagram tagging #InThisTogether @Orisbear @Oris.


Boutique Independents

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. CW offers to sell a range of MeisterSinger single-hand watches on its website as an alternative sales outlet. You can shop directly here and enjoy an exclusive 35% discount. 10% of all the sale proceeds go 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.


Small Independents

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. Visit the brand’s website here for more.

Ollech & Wajs Zurich, recognized for its vintage divers, has received orders for 7,500 protection masks. So far it has delivered 4,800 to organisations in Belgium, France, and Italy. These organisations include charities, public servants, ambulances, police agents, administrations, retirement homes, and hospitals. Furthermore, the brand has financed the production of 350 units of 3D printed face visors for hospital workers. They have also purchased analog quartz watches for the use of the medical staff of a New York field hospital. For anyone who would like to join forces or has the resources to support, email mask@ow-watch.ch or visit ow-watch.ch.

Under the Radar

Not that we are counting, but the list of brands who have stepped up in times of crisis, all turn out to be the independents. Compared to other luxury goods sectors, we have not seen actions on a notable scale from the watchmaking industry to support in the fight against the pandemic. 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. We would rather like to think that it is thanks to the typical Swiss hush-hush approach.

Read the full article on Fratello magazine here