VIDEO: “Our planet is the most precious gem we have.” Bulgari CEO adds his voice – and a $50K watch – to our bushfire appeal auction VIDEO: “Our planet is the most precious gem we have.” Bulgari CEO adds his voice – and a $50K watch – to our bushfire appeal auction

VIDEO: “Our planet is the most precious gem we have.” Bulgari CEO adds his voice – and a $50K watch – to our bushfire appeal auction

Andrew McUtchen

There was not a moment’s hesitation. Jean-Christophe Babin, the CEO of Bulgari, and I were standing on a pool deck at a villa in Dubai. Within sight, an emerald green ocean. Swaying palm trees. Skies of blue. A world away from the scene I had left, when I’d jumped on an Emirates flight 24 hours before. Choking smoke in Melbourne. People wearing gas masks as they boarded the plane. Fires in Victoria you could see from 30,000 feet as we flew towards the Middle East. The air quality in Melbourne on the day I left for LVMH Watch Week was the worst of anywhere in the world, including parts of India that are considered hazardous.

Serpenti Tubogas

“Of course we would like to help. It is done. Speak to Antoine (Antoine Pin, the Managing Director of the Bulgari Watches Division), he will arrange the details.” The watch that was ultimately offered was the absolutely stunning Bulgari Serpenti in yellow gold picture above. At just over $50,000AUD it is the most valuable watch in the ‘Watch & Act!’ auction based on its RRP. With the cameras about to roll on an interview, I asked a second question. Would Mr Babin have a message for Australians at this time? He crossed his arms, and looked to the side. “Yes, I do,” he said.

Bulgari CEO
Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin has contributed a $50K watch to the ‘Watch & Act!’ World Watch Auction in aid of the Australian bushfire crisis

What happened next was from the heart. Totally spontaneous, and for me — as someone who would take quite an amount of time to script a non-camera response on this kind of subject — utterly impressive in its unfaltering delivery. What you don’t see in the clip is me saying, a few seconds after his closing line, “How did you do that?” Here is the text, in its entirety:

“Hello, good morning dear Australian friends, I’m Jean-Christophe Babin, the CEO of Bulgari, the magnificent and contemporary Roman high-jeweller. The first thing I wanted to share with you is our sadness for the dramatic bushfires which are devastating Australia.

“It shows once again our planet is a precious gem, probably the most precious gem we have. And how much it’s urgent to take any potential measures to protect it, to avoid this kind of drama repeats again. As we talk about the future, not only for our kids, but for all of mankind. So really, total solidarity with you. Hoping that this drama will end pretty soon and that everything will be taken to prevent dramatic situations like this happening in the future.”

Bulgari CEO
Time+Tide founder Andrew McUtchen and Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin at LVMH Watch Week 2020, in Dubai