Omega raises US$600,000 for eye charity Orbis through auction of Hong Kong special edition watches

Omega raises US$600,000 for eye charity Orbis through auction of Hong Kong special edition watches

Omega raises US$600,000 for eye charity Orbis through auction of Hong Kong special edition watches

Switzerland’s Omega, the only watchmaker certified by Nasa for all manned space missions, has raised more than US$600,000 through an online auction for the charity Orbis International as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.

The luxury brand, part of the Swatch Group, auctioned 11 suitcases, each containing 11 MoonSwatch Moonshine Gold Hong Kong edition watches via Sotheby’s, raising 534,670 Swiss francs (US$604,225) for Orbis.

Swatch has been supporting Orbis, which fights avoidable blindness and vision loss around the world, since 2011.

Omega does not really like to talk about CSR because it is “so obvious for us”, said Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO and president, adding that its handmade watches are the ultimate expression of sustainability.

Swatch released a new version of the MoonSwatch with a gold seconds hand, as part of the collaboration between Omega and Swatch, in March 2023. Photo: Bloomberg

“Our watches are made in Switzerland so we don’t send things around the world to make them,” he said. “The DNA of the Swiss watch industry and a brand like us is that Swiss-made watches last forever.”

During his recent trip to Hong Kong, Aeschlimann met Derek Hodkey, president and CEO of Orbis, who briefed him about the charity’s work on the Flying Eye Hospital. It is the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft that undertakes eye-care missions across the world.

As a symbolic gesture, Aeschlimann and Hodkey exchanged a Seymour teddy bear, which has become an icon of the Omega-Orbis partnership. Omega is known for presenting every young Orbis patient with their own teddy bear before they undergo treatment.

Besides its CSR efforts, Aeschlimann is also conscious of the image and reputation of the ambassadors chosen to represent Omega, who include the likes of Hollywood stars George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eddie Redmayne.

Over the moon: Hongkongers swept up in MoonSwatch mania

“Whenever we have [new] ambassadors, there is a lot of homework to be done,” he said, pointing out that Clooney, Craig and many others have been to Omega’s factory to get first-hand experience and understand the brand’s ethos and history.

“With George Clooney, I know that if he was here, he would be able to explain the details of the Moonwatch just like me.”

Last month, football superstar Lionel Messi angered Hong Kong and mainland Chinese fans by sitting out an exhibition game in the city owing to an injury.

It did not sit well with those who bought tickets to the game, some of whom paid HK$4,880 (US$623) each for the most expensive seats. Some Chinese fans had also called for a boycott of Messi’s endorsements.

“It’s a question of choosing the right [ambassador], and being humble and understanding the expectations of the people,” Aeschlimann said.

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