Fine timepieces are a luxury, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to feel bad about buying them. As environmental sustainability, charity and general good-feeling fuzziness become ever more important in everyday life, so too are some heavy-hitters in the watch world making sure that they’re giving back, too. Here then are the best charity-slanted releases around right now, saving the world one calibre at a time.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Mokarran
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms was the original diver’s watch, beating Rolex’s Submariner to the market by a matter of months, so it’s only proper that any charitable ventures it launches into should aid the oceans. While the Fifty Fathoms’ contemporary cousin, the Bathyscaphe, has already featured heavily in the brand’s Ocean Commitment series of watches to help fund ocean exploration and preservation, here it diverges slightly with a run of 50 black, brushed ceramic watches on fabric straps with striking tropic green sunray brushed dials and ceramic bezels. The Mokarran also foregoes a date window, all of which makes this by far the most dressed-down take on the Bathyscaphe so far.
For each watch sold, Blancpain will donate $1,000 to the Mokarran Protection Society to aid its work studying the Hammerhead shark in French Polynesian waters.
$15,500 USD, limited to 50 pieces, available at Blancpain.
Oris Aquis Hangang
Oris, with its ‘Change for the Better’ motto, is no stranger to charitable giving (remember its Movember watches?) or oceanographic philanthropy (it has in the past helped Whale and Dolphin Conservation as well as coral reef restoration and used recycled waste plastic from the sea for packaging) but its latest watch to offer something back deals with freshwater, namely the Hangang river which runs through South Korea.
The watch is a 43.5mm Aquis Circular Date with green (definitely the watch colour of 2020) sunray brushed dial, green ceramic bezel insert and a stamped relief of the river on its caseback. Oris is making 2,000 pieces and a portion of proceeds will go to the Seoul branch of the Korean Foundation for Environmental Movements and its work reversing the effects of pollution on the river’s ecosystem.
£2,100 GBP, limited to 2000 pieces, available at Oris.
William Wood Valiant Bronze Limited Edition
William Wood watches was named after the founder’s late grandfather, a firefighter of 25 years, with the aim of giving something back to the emergency services. Each watch features a crown insert made from a smelted British fireman’s helmet from the 1920s, eye-catching straps made from retired fire hose and allows for a portion of proceeds to be donated to The Fire Fighters Charity with plans to fund-raise for other branches of the emergency services further down the line.
The latest watch is a 200-piece limited-edition of the Valiant dive watch in bronze. Water resistant to 100m, the Valiant uses a Seiko automatic movement, offers a choice of four strap colours and uses sapphire crystal front and back.
£795 GBP, limited to 200 pieces, available at William Wood Watches.
Ulysse Nardin Diver Chronograph Hammerhead
Ulysse Nardin has leaned heavily on the enigmatic form of the shark for its dive watches in recent years, not only for its striking advertising campaigns but with watches named after certain species, including the Great White. Now, the Swiss watchmaker is giving back in the form of a partnership with OCEARCH, a scientific research organisation studying the habits and migratory patterns of sharks. While most of the world is in lockdown, the group is still planning two expeditions in 2020, off the coasts of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia, which Ulysse Nardin will be supporting.
With the brand’s support assured there’s no direct link between sales of a particular model and donations but we’d certainly recommend you look at its 44mm Hammerhead Divers Chronograph, a limited edition of 300 pieces in both titanium or rose gold. Not only is it a serious diver, good for 300m, but it’s striking enough to look good on the marina too.
$11,900 USD, limited to 300 pieces, available at Ulysse-Nardin.
Nomos Medecins Sans Frontieres
Nomos’ support of Doctors Without Borders began in 2012 with the introduction of limited-edition models with lettering on the dial, the tell-tale red number 12 (the NGO’s signature colour) and a tangible (some of these charitable partnerships can be tricky to pin down in terms of cold-hard currency) £100 per watch going to support its work in crisis-hit areas around the world.
Since then more than 8,000 Nomos MSF watches have been sold around the world with the latest, a 500-piece run of the brand’s Ahoi models benefiting the German branch of the charity, Ärzte ohne Grenzen, to the tune of 250 Euros each.
£3,440 GBP (ref 560.S1), £3,780 GBP (ref 551.S2), limited to 250 pieces each, available at Nomos-Glashuette.
Breguet Race for Water Marine 5517
Race for Water is, simply put, a truly extraordinary ship on a five-year voyage around the world, the figurehead for a wider project to spread knowledge of marine conservation and more sustainable ocean-going practices. The tri-hulled boat lives up to its aims, making way either using solar-powered electric motors, hydrogen fuel cells or even a kite that can be deployed in the right conditions to pull it across the waves.
Along its route Race for Water will make some 35 stops (currently on hold in light of Covid-19) inviting onboard a host of scientists, dignitaries and school children to spread the message and show that a 100-tonne boat can circumnavigate the globe without the need for fossil fuel. To support the venture Breguet created a commemorative edition of its Marine 5517 in titanium with a guilloche representation of Race for Life on the dial.
More details at Breguet.
IWC Handwound Portugieser Monopusher Chronograph Laureus Sport for Good
Back in February, before the world was turned on its head, a host of IWC ambassadors walked the red carpet at the 20th Laureus World Sports Award in Berlin to show their support for the initiative IWC has been supporting since 2005. Each year IWC reveals a new limited-edition watch in aid of the organisation which helps disadvantaged youngsters through sport, making use of its signature blue colour and holding a drawing contest among its 300,000 participants, with the winning design stamped on the caseback.
In short, they’re usually a big hit with IWC’s customers, but this hand-wound monopusher chronograph also stood out because it adhered to IWC’s recent decision to phase out third-party movements for Portugieser Chronographs. That meant using the 59360 calibre which was more familiar inside the Portofino and Big Pilot collections. As such this watch required a giant 46mm stainless steel case, where 41 and 42mm are the norm for Portugieser Chronographs making for something of an anomaly.
£15,000 GBP, limited to 500 pieces, available at IWC.
Breitling Superocean Heritage 57
The watch community has not been silent during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Some brands (take a bow, Ressence and TAG Heuer) have created special charity one-offs to raise funds, while Revolution publisher Wei Koh assembled an entire auction. Breitling meanwhile has created a sure-fire way to raise funds by creating a 1,000-piece limited-edition run of one of the brand’s most surprising hits in recent years, the Superocean Heritage ‘57 Rainbow.
The 250-piece black-dialled version sold out in the blink of an eye, so 1,000 pieces of an arguably even better-looking version (it even brings a smile to the face of an old cynic like me) with the promise of a $500,000 donation to front-line healthcare workers (in the UK that means cash for NHS Charities Together) is great news all round.
£3,990 GBP, limited to 1,000 pieces, available at Breitling.