june 2017
may 2017

PolioWatch , Time to Act



Polio Watch: watchmaking philanthropy, Chronopassion style

To begin with – almost 25 years ago now – they talked only of knives: fine objects that Laurent Picciotto collected as an amateur, guided by Marc Alfieri, who made them with his own hands.

But when Marc Alfieri started to take an interest in watches, it was his turn to come and see the Chronopassion expert. This continued for the space of several years, and then the two men went their separate ways again – until now.

A project, a dial, and a watch

To begin with, I simply came to show Laurent how the project was working out,” says Marc Alfieri with a smile. The project in question was as simple to sum up as it was hard to realise: putting an end to polio worldwide.

This goal is being pursued by many Rotary Clubs around the world. The vast network of contributors has given itself five years to achieve its aim. Several hundred thousand euros have already been collected, and immediately converted into vaccines. There are clear and encouraging signs of success, but more still needs to be done. More people need to come on board. That’s where the Polio Watch comes in, and that’s where Chronopassion enters the story.

As Marc Alfieri explains, “The idea is to offer the general public a timepiece capable of showing its owners how progress is being made worldwide in eradicating the disease – in real time. We’ve created a watch with a small embedded electronic device that provides updates on gifts received over a Bluetooth connection. It features a grey globe at 6 o’clock, symbolising the virus. As more gifts come in and more vaccinations are carried out, the globe gradually revolves, revealing the Earth. Once the disease has been completely eradicated, the ‘virus’ part of the globe will no longer be visible, and the whole Earth will be displayed.”

Chronopassion’s part in all of this is to have become an ambassador for the project. “When Marc came to show me the Polio Watch, it was simply to ask my opinion about the product. I thought we could do a little more than that,” says Laurent Picciotto.

Chronopassion will have its own edition of the Polio Watch. The dial will simply display the brand’s CP logo, and the watch will not be sold on site. “The idea isn’t to create a physical distribution network for the watch”, explains Laurent Picciotto. “The aim is to get people whose awareness I’ve helped raise to go onto the cause’s website, make a gift and buy their watch themselves.

This particular “Chronopassion” number will not be an exclusive item or a limited edition. Laurent Picciotto has generously shared his address book so that the Polio Watch can be promoted to other brands, too. 600 watches have already been pre-ordered, at a price of 480 euros ex-VAT. Production will commence in the coming weeks, with the first deliveries likely as early as this summer. And each watch sold will provide vaccinations for 250 people.

“Donors need to understand what they are giving their resources to and be able to have a practical view of how the cause they are committing themselves to is progressing. The Polio Watch allows us to do all of that. And the watch is an excellent advertisement, too: each time a donor wears it, they become another ambassador for the cause,”concludes Marc Alfieri.

Like the other watches in the initiative, the Chronopassion model of the Polio Watch will be out this summer. It will be on show in the window display, alongside the timepieces that have made the store in Rue St Honoré so famous. The timepiece will be the only low-price, brandless electronic watch in the shop – and what’s more it won’t even be for sale on site! The Polio Watch may not immunise anyone against compulsive watch-buying, but it will vaccinate against polio. And what a good thing that is, too.

Olivier Müller

Celine Chea Photographer