Time to do good: 5 watches that support worthy causes from Panerai, Hublot, Ulysse Nardin, IWC, Norqain
You don’t have to spend millions at a charity auction to make a difference. These timepieces can make a stylish statement and a social or environmental stand all at once.
In case you’ve forgotten about the surprising collaboration between watchmaker Panerai and gaming lifestyle brand Razer last year, there is a pop-up event at Ion2 going from now till the end of February that not only heralds the arrival of their much-discussed timepiece, but reminds us all that there is more to talk about than the incongruence of those two brands.
The Panerai Luminor Quaranta Razer Special Edition was the result of a shared commitment by both companies to raise awareness for ocean conservation.
At the Make Time For Our Ocean pop-up, visitors can finally see the watch in the metal (alongside existing Panerai models), enjoy Italian coffee and cocktails, and play a Razer-designed, preservation-themed game where weekly top scorers can win Razer and Panerai collectibles.
The watch clearly won’t be to everyone’s tastes – and really, what watch is? – but the collaborative spirit and environmentally friendly message is something we can all get behind. It’s not uncommon for watch brands to stand with causes they believe in, whether it's through events, donations, charity auctions, brand ambassadors and so on, but some also offer timepieces that have a portion of the proceeds go to their chosen non-profits.
Here are a few to get you started down the path of doing good while looking good.
HUBLOT BIG BANG UNICO SORAI
Rhinoceros numbers are declining at a depressing rate. With three killed every day on average for the last 10 years, we’re down to less than 30,000 of them left in the wild. This is why Hublot has been supporting Save Our Rhinos Africa India (SORAI) since 2019, an organisation founded by former English cricket star Kevin Pietersen.
This year’s Big Bang Unico Sorai, recently unveiled at LVMH Watch Week, is the third watch to be made in partnership with Sorai, and like before, part of the proceeds of this 100-piece limited edition will go to projects supported by the organisation. The first two were coloured in sandy beige and dark green respectively, echoing the dry and wet landscapes of Africa. This model’s vibrant colours recall Africa’s fiery skies at sunset and dawn, as poachers only emerge under cover of nightfall.
The open-worked dial settles inside a micro-blasted “rhino-grey” ceramic case developed specially for the watch, and under it beats the self-winding Unico movement with 72 hours of power reserve. If you want a slightly more sombre look to match the message, the camouflage-patterned strap can be easily swapped with a grey fabric and velcro one.
ULYSSE NARDIN DIVER CHRONOGRAPH GREAT WHITE 44M
It was all the way back in 2010 that Ulysse Nardin released its first shark watch, the Diver Hammerhead. But it was only from 2018 that the brand, known for its high-precision marine chronometers, really started to embrace the fearsome fish as an unofficial mascot, starting with an advertising campaign and continuing with models like the Diver Great White, Diver Blue Shark, and Diver Lemon Shark. In recent years, Ulysse Nardin has also helped launch a shark tagging campaign and partnered with shark-tracking app Ocearch and conservation charity Sharktrust.
The newest member of the family is the Diver Chronograph Great White, a limited edition of 300 pieces. Crisp and sporty, the 44mm watch uses the shark’s colouring to great effect, with a sandblasted and satin-finished titanium case complementing a white rubberised bezel and matching grey dial. The white rubber strap also features a small cut-out silhouette of a shark that glows with blue Superluminova in the dark, along with the watch’s hands and indexes. The self-winding Calibre UN-150 is built with a column-wheel chronograph, with an escapement wheel, anchor, and balance in silicon. You won’t be able to see the movement, but you will be greeted instead by a toothy face stamped on the solid titanium caseback.
Since its partnership with 1% For the Planet, Ulysse Nardin will donate one per cent of annual sales of its shark watches to support non-profit organisations focused on sharks.
IWC PORTOFINO CHRONOGRAPH 39 EDITION “LAUREUS SPORT FOR GOOD”
Like all the watches IWC has made in support of Laureus Sport For Good, this 16th special edition is decked out in the foundation’s signature blue. Unlike the 2021 model, which had a Pilot’s Watch completely drenched in the colour from the strap to dial, the 2022 Portofino Chronograph 39 looks more like a standard-issue IWC. With a dark blue sun ray-finished face with rhodium-plated hands and appliques, stainless steel case and black calfskin strap, this is an edition that will be dependably stylish for all occasions.
Laureus Sport for Good was founded by Richemont (IWC’s parent company) and Daimler in 2005 to bring together those who believe in sports’ power to change the lives of disadvantaged children and teenagers around the world. So on the back of this Portofino you will find an engraving of the winning entry of the IWC-organised drawing competition – a picture of hands joined in unity – by 15-year-old Jatin Malhan, goalkeeper for the Youth Football Club Rurka Kalan in India.
The two-register chronograph is powered by the automatic Calibre 79350, and it is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.
NORQAIN INDEPENDENCE WILD ONE HAKUNA MIPAKA
Norqain’s logo is a stylised depiction of the Swiss Alps – not just because it’s an easy way to pay tribute to its watchmaking pedigree, but because its team is filled with mountaineering enthusiasts determined to play its part in protecting the natural world. It regularly uses vegan or upcycled materials in its straps and packaging, launched the Neverest line in 2021 that supports the Butterfly Help Project, and succeeded in gaining CO2-Neutral certification from Swiss Climate last year.
Several months ago, the brand announced its latest line, Wild One, highlighting a new proprietary carbon fibre material – Norteq – for its cases. Six times lighter than steel and 3.5 times lighter than titanium, this is a collection of hard-wearing tickers for the adventurous – and it was conceived under the advice of the watch industry’s favourite loony genius Jean-Claude Biver.
Part of the debut lineup includes a limited edition reference co-designed with animal welfare activist (and professional lion cuddler) Dean Schneider. The 42mm black Norteq case features shock absorbers that incorporate actual grains of red sand from Schneider’s Hakuna Mipaka wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. The strap is vegan-certified, and stamped with a lion’s fur pattern to match the dial.
The chronometer-certified automatic NN20/1 calibre can be seen from the sapphire crystal caseback, along with the message: “We need to learn to love them exactly the way they are and not the way we wish them to be!” Each of the 500 available pieces comes with a special Hakuna Mipaka watch box and a signed card from Schneider. Ten per cent of the earnings will go to the sanctuary.
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