Pret-a-Reporter

IWC Designs One-of-a-Kind Watch to Support Tribeca Film Institute

Courtesy of Nike Communications

The limited-edition timepiece will be up for auction at Christie's, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit arts organization.

Status watches increasingly have become a must-have element on red carpets — but how about a one-of-a-kind watch that comes with a ticket to one of the hottest events (and carpets) of the festival season?

Now in its third year as a Tribeca Film Festival sponsor, luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen is offering a one-of-a-kind timepiece for auction, with the proceeds benefiting the Tribeca Film Institute, the philanthropic arm of the festival.

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Christie's is handling the online-only auction, which kicks off on Wednesday, April 1, and ends April 10 (check out the auction at www.christies.com/iwctribeca). This year's "Unique Piece," as these custom watches are known, is a Portofino Monopusher Edition, featuring a slate dial and Bordeaux subdial in a 45mm case of 18-karat white gold. "The Bordeaux subdial is meant to remind one of a red carpet, while the ardoise, or slate grey, dial for us represents the color of New York City," explains Edouard D'Arbaumont, president of IWC Schaffhausen North America.

Another first for this timepiece, and for IWC, is the introduction of a new complication: a single push-button mechanism integrated into the crown, which allows the wearer to start and stop the chronograph, recording times of up to 60 minutes; press the mechanism a third time, and all chronograph hands are reset to zero. "I knew that IWC had been working on this complication for two years," D'Arbaumont notes. "About eight months ago we agreed that this would be the ideal watch for the global premiere of truly nice, and very unusual, complication." (For the uninitiated, any feature beyond simple hours and minutes in a watch is known as a complication. The greater number of complications — which also could include chronographs, alarms, day/date displays or moon phases, for example — the more complex the watch.)

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To finish the watch, IWC has engraved the festival's logo and "Unique Piece" on the caseback. The winning bidder likewise will enjoy the fruits of the 14th annual festival, set to take place April 15-26, as the auction package also includes VIP access to festival programs, hotel accommodations and tickets for the winner and guest to attend IWC's "For the Love of Cinema" private gala dinner on April 16, hosted by IWC CEO Georges Kern. The dinner is widely regarded as one of the festival’s hottest tickets; among those attending last year’s event were co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, as well as Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Carmelo Anthony and Patrick Stewart.

Previous auctions have garnered $60,000 and $55,000 for one-of-a-kind IWC models (a custom take on IWC's iconic Portuguese in 2013 and a customized Pilot for 2014). IWC's goal each year is to add to the winning bid to create a total annual gift of $100,000 to the Tribeca Film Institute, D'Arbaumont notes.

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"From the beginning IWC didn't want to just be a sponsor of a film festival, we wanted to do a little bit more," he says. "The auction and additional gift allow us to create opportunities for young filmmakers and help them with their professional development." Indeed, of the $100,000 donation, $25,000 is earmarked for the IWC Filmmaker Award, given during the festival's closing ceremonies. Last year's award went to writer-director Jay Dockendorf, who used the funds to complete Naz & Maalik, the story of two closeted Muslim teens, which is currently enjoying a healthy buzz on the festival circuit. As the previous year's honoree, Dockendorf will serve on the juried panel to determine the 2015 IWC winner.

D'Arbaumont adds that IWC's commitment to sponsoring film festivals extends far beyond New York, to events in London, Dubai, Beijing and Zurich as well, though they ultimately share a common ground with the Swiss-based watchmaker. "We feel strongly connected to the movie industry," he says. "Like film, we are storytellers; this is part of our DNA, and always will be."

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