Guy Laliberté, the Canadian billionaire founder of Cirque de Soleil, and Prince Albert II of Monaco’s Foundation are partnering with Phillips on another major auction scheduled for December. Both are auctioning off important timepieces to benefit Laliberté’s One Drop Foundation, a sustainable non-profit that aims to provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene for vulnerable communities, and the Prince’s charity, which aims to create change around the climate, biodiversity and water resources. The highlights of the “Time Counts” auction, which will take place in partnership with Phillips on December 12th as a dedicated section of its “Racing Pulse” New York sale , include a provenance Jaeger-LeCoultre piece from U2’s Bono, a Rolex Daytona from Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary and four unique Audemars Piguets from Laliberté, among others.
Bono’s 18-karat pink gold watch ($1,000-$2,000) was a gift by the musician to his father, who he credits with giving him his voice. It comes with a framed drawing of his lyrics to “The First Time.” Laliberté says the contribution gave him goosebumps. “I didn’t ask why he decided to give us this piece specifically, but I am so thankful,” the entrepreneur told Robb Report. “I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the next owner is going to open the box and feel the symbolic importance of this piece.”
Meanwhile, O’Leary—a well-known watch collector—was, surprisingly, willing to part with his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference 116500LN ($8,000-$12,000). It comes with a red strap, a signature of the businessman and TV personality, who is known to wear the color for its attention-grabbing look on the big screen. Laliberté brought him on board thanks to mutual friends. “I understand Mr. Wonderful [O’Leary’s Shark Tank nickname] rarely ever parts with any of his personal watches, so I’m even more grateful to Kevin for the generous donation of his Rolex Daytona.”
Laliberté’s own Audemars Piguet watches, however, are the most serious horological timepieces on offer. The Swiss watch company has frequently offered important watches for his annual auction fundraiser, but this time he personally offered four 1/1 unique timepieces, in addition to the celebrity donations. “Unfortunately, over 2.2 billion people still lack access to safe water at home,” says Laliberté. “I decided to donate these watches in the hope that they will raise a significant amount of money to help us have a substantial impact on these numbers. These watches have had a very special place in my collection and in my heart, but it was time for them to take on a new life, metaphorically—through the One Drop Foundation. These watches will now contribute to save lives.” To less than a handful of lucky winning bidders, he is offering four openworked grand complication Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks, freshly serviced by the Swiss watchmaker, in steel, yellow gold, rose gold and white gold. Each comes in its original wooden box, with papers, along with custom-made One Drop boxes (all are estimated between $200,000-$400,000).
This is no small commitment—these are VVIP collector timepieces. But Laliberté didn’t drop his mic there. He also enlisted the help of royalty. The Prince of Monaco is putting his Montre Rebellion Predator 2.0 ($10,000-$20,000) and a unique Urwerk reference UR-106 ($50,000-$100,000) up for bidding, while his foundation is offering a Royal Oak “Jumbo” ref. 15202 in stainless steel with his name engraved on the caseback ($20,000-$40,000). “Where there’s a will there’s a way, and I think that our mutual love for the planet was the real driver here,” says Laliberté. “Prince Albert is a very dear and old friend who has supported my Foundation since the very beginning. He was right next to me when I launched One Drop 13 years ago and his Foundation has contributed to various One Drop projects along the years until this very special collaboration.” But their partnership has long-term goals—the duo is said to be collaborating on a yet-to-be-announced project that will be funded from the proceeds of the auction.
Other contributions to the sale include keyboardist Rory Kaplan’s Porsche Design Orfina Chronograph ($1,000-$2,000), which he wore throughout his career, as well as an IWC Big Pilot ($6,000-$12,000) from British Formula One race car driver, David Coulthard. But the icing on the cake, for both automotive and watch enthusiasts alike, is a lot that offers the chance to meet Jackie Stewart ($15,000-$30,000), the Formula One legend, at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2021. Consider this Laliberté’s final coup de grace. While known as a longtime watch enthusiast, the Canadian tycoon is also deep in the automotive racing world—his son, Kami Laliberté is a race-car driver, and Stewart is a personal family friend. “We wanted to add a priceless time-related experience to “Time Counts,” and Jackie graciously offered a chance to meet at a private Monaco Grand Prix reception, hosted by Prince Albert at the Palace of Monaco.”
Of all the pieces on offer, Bono’s Jaeger-LeCoultre, in provenance alone, is wildly undervalued, so we suggest getting in on the action. But for serious horophiles, Laliberté’s Audemars Piguets should be the star lots. And here’s a tip on us: The mogul still has a unique AP on his hands that he wore on the International Space Station in 2009, for 11 days while he was raising awareness for his foundation as part of the Social Poetic Mission. It’s a Royal Oak Grande Complication in titanium and black stainless steel that he says he plans to keep for life, however, a private bid is, surely, never discouraged if the price is right.