The watch world has been virtually shut down by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturing plants have been closed and the high-powered platforms that watchmakers typically use to launch their new, painstakingly crafted timepieces, including the Baselworld and Watches & Wonders Geneva shows, have been canceled.
Switzerland, the global travel hub where so many of the big luxury watch brands are headquartered, has been hit hard by the pandemic. At the time of publication, 25,931 infections have been recorded in the country and 1,159 people have died from the virus.
In response, several high-end watchmakers (and luxury conglomerates that own watch brands) are contributing to relief efforts against the COVID-19 crisis, both financially and through the production of essential supplies and equipment.
LVMH, which owns TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Zenith and Hublot, has helped on several fronts. The company is using its perfumery facilities to manufacture hand sanitizer gel for hospitals and has secured orders for several million FFP2 surgical masks for French health authorities, as well as respiratory equipment, with delivery expected in April. The company also donated to the Chinese Red Cross and provided medical supplies to Hubei province during the Chinese outbreak.
The Louis Vuitton brand produces non-medical masks in six of its workshops in France – and around 300 LV leather craftsmen are working to meet a government request for alternative non-medical barrier masks to help stop the spread of the virus.
Italian watchmaker and jeweler Bulgari has donated thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer it produces (in conjunction with its perfumer partner) to Italian medical institutions. And Kering, owner of watch brands Ulysse Nardin and Girard-Perregaux, announced last week that it had donated $1 million to the CDC Foundation to provide personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to workers. healthcare in the United States, particularly in heavily impacted states such as New York, New Jersey, California and Florida, and locations in Latin America.
IWC has taken steps to help control the wave of anxiety that watch professionals can feel these days by launching its “Time Well Shared” initiative, a series of online conferences, keynotes and webinars by employees, brand ambassadors and partners of IWC who are intended to “inspire people to make the most of their time, entertain them and support them by keeping them connected and engaged”, according to its website. A recent spot in the series featured Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady discussing his NFL career.
Leading US luxury watch retailer Govberg Watches – which, in addition to its eponymous omnichannel business, owns the high-end pre-owned watch website WatchBox – is currently donating 10% of all e-commerce sales profits to COVID. -19 Better Together Fund, which supports teams working at Jefferson Health, owner of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, near Govberg headquarters.
Bob’s Watches, the largest seller of pre-owned Rolex watches in the United States, has launched an affiliate program called Partners over time which allows jewelers to integrate their website with the Bob’s Watches site, allowing consumers to shop from Bob’s Watches’ assortment of over 500 certified pre-owned watches. When Bob’s watch purchases are made on another retailer’s site, that retailer earns a 5% commission (commissions are capped at $1,000 per sale).
Bob’s Watches is also partnering with Frontline Foods to support healthcare workers battling COVID-19. The retailer plans to match the first $10,000 it raises for the nonprofit, which supports local restaurants that deliver meals to healthcare workers.
Finally, watch brand Luminox is donating 10% of revenue from every watch sold during the pandemic to Direct Relief, an organization that provides protective gear to healthcare organizations in areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
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