Over-the-top Aspen watch benefits local groups | AspenTimes.com

Over-the-top Aspen watch benefits local groups

Aspen ski-wear pioneer Klaus Obermeyer, right, receives an Aspen One watch.

ASPEN – The high-priced Aspen One timepiece, which could be considered the epitome of wealthy exuberance, is benefiting some of the lowest on the socio-economic ladder and those with physical challenges.

Nearly a year after its worldwide launch, one of the watches – which retail for $38,900 – was auctioned off with proceeds going to Challenge Aspen and the Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club (AVSC).

Super model Elle Macpherson, the first person to own the luxury timepiece, donated her watch to the two nonprofits.

Her 18-karat, rose-gold watch set, with 1.52 karat white diamonds and her signature engraved on the back, recently was auctioned off for $37,500. The bidder was a European business man, said Rene Van Ass, the CEO of Aspen Jewelry and Watches.

Not only did the bidder win the timepiece, he also won round-trip airfare from New York City to Aspen, two lift tickets providing access to all four mountains, two nights of lodging at the St. Regis Resort Aspen, and the chance to join Macpherson skiing on the day of her choice this ski season.

Van Ass presented the funds earlier this month at AVSC’s seventh annual Winter Whiteout Gala fundraiser at the Hotel Jerome. The buyer’s name – or the name of his or her choosing – will be engraved on a monument located on Aspen Mountain. The name of every owner of the watch will be etched on the monument.

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The watch is being sold around the world, and Van Ass said there are about 30 names to be engraved on the monument.

AVSC Executive Director Mark Cole said the organization will receive between $11,000 and $12,000, which will go directly to kids in the valley through outreach programs.

Those programs include scholarships, equipment donations and bus service for kids in the valley who would otherwise not be able to afford to get on the mountain.

“We believe with some conviction that every child should be able to ski or snowboard,” Cole said, adding Macpherson selected AVSC and Challenge Aspen as recipients. “She cares about skiing and kids.”

Macpherson was the first person to own an Aspen One watch, of which there are 3,276 available. That number represents the vertical rise of Aspen Mountain.

She presented the watch as a donation to the local nonprofits this past February at the base of Aspen Mountain.

“The proceeds from this watch will scholarship more than 50 families with disabilities to enjoy Challenge Aspen’s winter and summer programs,” said Challenge Aspen CEO Houston Cowan. “Elle and Rene have truly helped us take the ‘dis out of disability’ for some very special young people.”

A second watch was given to the Quality of Life Foundation, based in the Netherlands, which has raised more than $10 million for children’s cancer research. The watch was auctioned for $75,000.

At the Dec. 5 event in Aspen, local ski-wear pioneer Klaus Obermeyer was announced as the honorary ambassador for Aspen One in the United States, and was given a watch.

The Swiss-made timepiece is meant as a tribute to Aspen’s rich heritage in its design and to its crown jewel, Aspen Mountain. It also signifies the resort’s penchant for opulence.

The timepiece carries features that communicate elements specific to Aspen. A specially designed compass shows where you are once on top of Aspen Mountain, and the watch tells you when it is time to change your ski-strap to your apres-ski strap when the ski area closes.

Orange is the color of the number four on the dial, which, in the tradition of the Ute Indians, indicates prosperity, and now represents mountain safety.

csack@aspentimes.com