From overcrowded inboxes to always-on social media, online shopping to the black hole that is binge-watching streamed TV series, we’ve allowed the Internet to rule our lives. The up side of course is that it has empowered us, connected us and given us a voice, made us more inquisitive and questioning.

Loaded with new-found knowledge, the new breed of conscientious consumers can often know more about a product than the producers themselves. They seek experiences but more so an emotional connect and are brand loyal if the track record is sound and ethical. From fashion retailers to restaurants and travel destinations extra kudos go to luxury brands who give back in some meaningful way. 

The arts, fashion and sports are easy, sexy categories to play in and guarantee columns of media exposure in return for support. Fortunately, the network of correspondents, global news channels and social media have brought to our attention the far more needy causes. Defenseless children are threatened daily by war and famine, women’s rights being undermined and global warming and pollution threatening our environments and oceans. From literacy projects to conservation, here are a few luxury brands taking action and contributing to change. With a few timepieces to match.

OMEGA and the GoodPlanet Foundation have been working together since 2012 raising public awareness of our oceans and sharing the foundation’s dedication to sustainability. Together they set up two projects for the restoration and conservation of the Indonesian coast. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GMT GoodPlanet timepieces funds the preservation of the mangroves and seagrasses in Southeast Asia and education of locals in matters of conservation. The watchmaker’s association with the ocean dates back to 1932 with the invention of its first divers' watch called the Marine. The 43.5mm Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet is powered by their Co-Axial calibre 8605 and features a bold blue lacquered dial with applied indexes, bright orange GMT scale and central GMT hand.

Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has the tools to shape their lives but through a 13-year partnership with UNICEF, Montblanc has managed to raise over $10m towards a literacy programme through the sale of editioned collections. Every child has the human right to learn to read and write but many don’t have access to basic education. The heritage of the brand started with writing instruments and although they look to enhance and highlight the importance of writing, timepieces have been included in the limited fundraising collections. Montblanc’s involvement goes beyond pens and paper, often facilitating the basics such as drilling for water, providing water fountains, improving learning materials or making a bigger impact through teacher training better infrastructure. The Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum Latin UNICEF captures the organisation’s global presence while providing useful functionality to globe trotters and features Montblanc’s impactful manufacture complication Orbis Terrarum. The watch is named after the Latin term for earth and tells the time in 24 time zones, while indicating the evolution of day and night all over the world. Limited to 500 pieces, the dial shows the city names in Latin characters. Its 41mm polished stainless steel case has satin-finished flanks and a blue leather wristband, UNICEF’s signature color.

IWC supports the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF), which is an international not-for-profit organisation providing scientific knowledge and technical assistance to ensure the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Begun under the auspices of UNESCO, the CDF has studied the fragile Galapagos biotope since 1959 and is the leading scientific adviser to the Ecuadorean government on the preservation of this archipelago and first natural World Heritage Site. There is as much commitment to the project as there is to the size of the watch. The 45mm Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands comes in vulcanized rubber-coated stainless steel case, rotating bezel with SafeDive system, on black rubber strap. It is powered by an IWC-manufactured 89365 calibre automatic movement with integrated flyback function. Water resistant to 30 bar.

Since 2004, IWC has also supported the Cousteau Society started by scuba diving pioneer, researcher and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau who dedicated his life to the deep seas. In his honor and as part of this partnership, the watchmaker releases regular special editions featuring a trademark deep blue dial and back engravings.

In celebration of 50 years since the launch of the Aquatimer, last year IWC released the Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition ’50 Years Aquatimer’ in an impressive 49mm matte black Ceratanium® case. A team of specialists at the manufacture took over five years to develop Ceratanium, which is based on a titanium alloy, which is as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic. The watch has a black dial to complement the case and the self-winding IWC-manufactured 89802-calibre features several components also finished in black. The integrated digital perpetual calendar displays the date and the month with large digits in the style of a digital watch. The chronograph has flyback function and displays stopped times combined in a totalizer at 12 o’clock.

From the skies to the sea to underground caves, the ROLEX Awards for Enterprise supports ‘inspiring individuals who carry out innovative projects that advance human knowledge or well-being’. The awards were launched in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oyster Chronometer, the world’s first waterproof timepiece. For over 40 years, Rolex has supported projects in the field of science and technology, endangered ecosystems and species, as well as preserving culture and improve the living standards in developing countries. Laureates receive SF100000 towards their projects and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual DateJust 41mm in steel and yellow gold with fluted bezel and Champagne-colour dial. It is equipped with a new generation COSC certified in-house calibre 3235 movement.

The striking, lightweight blue ceramic cased Blancpain Ocean Commitment II is possibly one of the most beautiful dive watches around and a most successful contemporary addition to the Fifty Fathoms range based on the first modern dive watch from 1953. With this Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph, the company once again shows its commitment to the oceans and hopes to raise over $275000 from the sale of the 250 limited edition watches in support of their ongoing marine conservation efforts. The Commitment II features their in-house caliber F385 automatic flyback chronograph with a 50-hour power reserve. blancpain.com

Blancpain Ocean Commitment II
Blancpain Ocean Commitment II
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