Australian footballing great Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin has joined forces with luxury Swiss watchmaker Zenith for an unprecedented collaboration of epic proportions… and it’s all in the name of charity.
Franklin, a Zenith Friend of the Brand since 2021 – has drawn on his Indigenous roots for inspiration in the one-off design of an exclusive DEFY Extreme which will be auctioned off via Loupe This. All proceeds from the sale will go towards supporting The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) – a national charity founded in 1999 which supports Indigenous Australians and Australia’s most marginalised communities in gaining essential literacy, language and communication skills. It’s also a foundation close to Franklin’s heart, and one that he supports together with Zenith.
At first glance, it’s immediately evident that this bespoke DEFY Extreme is directly inspired by the rugged landscape of the Australian outback, with many design cues paying homage to Franklin’s Indigenous background. Powered by Zenith’s renowned El Primero 21 calibre, this watch will keep exceptional time with a precise 1/100th of a second automatic chronograph with two independent escapements beating at 36’000 VpH and 360’000 VpH.
The watch, which is bold and striking, is encased in titanium and rose gold and comes complete with interchangeable rubber and Velcro straps with a fast change mechanism. With only two watches produced – one belonging to Franklin himself and the second on offer via auction – the future owner of this exclusive Zenith timepiece can revel in the charm of its unique design. Take the Sapphire dial, for example; it has been crafted in a custom colour called ‘Ulura’ with texturisation on the counter inspired by the iconic sandstone monolith and sacred site of Uluru in the Northern Territory.
In line with Zenith’s brand ethos, Time to Reach Your Star, ICON spoke with the two-time premiership winner and seventh-greatest goal-kicker in AFL history (this year, he became the sixth player in the history of the league to kick 1000 career goals) about how he continues to strive for greatest on and off the field, how this special collaboration came to fruition and what legacy he would like to leave.
ICON: Lance, thank you for taking the time to chat with us and congratulations on such a special collaboration with Zenith. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey with Zenith and how this collaborative timepiece came to be?
Lance Franklin: When discussions began around a year ago to be a Friend of the Brand for Zenith, it was a no-brainer for me – I connected with Zenith’s Time to Reach Your Star ethos as we share a like-minded passion to strive for excellence. We have worked on a few campaigns through the year, one being around my 1000th goal back in March to now a piece for charity to raise funds for the ALNF which I am very passionate about.
ICON: The DEFY Extreme timepiece is a pretty special watch. What does it signify to you?
LF: It is special and I am honoured to be a part of such a great initiative. It has a very clear connection to my Indigenous background and to the ALNF who we are raising funds for. The proceeds will support the foundation to assist people in our most marginalised communities to gain vital language, literacy, and communication skills.
ICON: Can you talk to us about your design input on the new DEFY Extreme timepiece?
LF: It was a real collaborative process with the design team at Zenith. It began with aligning on one of my personal favourites, the DEFY Extreme. From there we used this timepiece to incorporate the inspiration, and what was envisioned for the look and elements of the watch. I was really impressed that the team created a custom-coloured dial which reminds me of Uluru.
ICON: How did you first get involved with The Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation and why is it such an important charity to you?
LF: I’ve been an ambassador for ANLF since 2018 and the importance of what they do only becomes more apparent over time. I think it is important to highlight organisations such as the ALNF and all the work they do. I don’t think we can underestimate the impact of the work they do with communities and to be able to be a part of an organisation that supports indigenous children is something I’m very proud of.
ICON: What does it mean to you to be aligned with ZENITH, especially when you’re able to work on such impactful collaborations like this?
LF: Drawing attention to the needs of Indigenous Australians is important to me and I equally want to work with and partner with brands who support that as well. It was great to work with such a creative and talented team to design such a beautiful piece for such a great cause.
ICON: After being a ZENITH brand ambassador for some time, would you consider yourself a ‘watch guy’?
LF: Working with Zenith has really made me appreciate the craftsmanship and detail that goes into making a timepiece and it is now hard not to appreciate and notice the elements and designs of watches.
ICON: Do you have any significant watch stories growing up, Lance? Any sentimental pieces within your collection, perhaps?
LF: I wouldn’t say I have any specific watch stories that come to mind, working on this one-off timepiece for auction is one to remember. It will tell a great story in the future and one I will be able to share with my kids.
ICON: Zenith’s brand ethos is ‘Time to Reach Your Star’ – there’s no doubt you’ve lived by this ethos throughout your professional career as a footballer. Life after footy, what does that look like for you and do you have any goals you’d like to achieve?
LF: I’m working on a few projects, but I’m equally focused on next season and being prepared for that.
ICON: Away from football, how do you like to make the most of your time, Lance?
LF: Away from football I am spending time with my family, and when I can, I take some time out to train to ensure I am prepared for the next season.
ICON: How do you want to be remembered, Lance? What do you want your legacy to be?
LF: I think I’d like to be remembered as someone who was caring, worked hard and was passionate about making a difference both on and off the field.
Name: Zenith Defy Extreme “Buddy Franklin”
Diameter: 45 mm
Material: Titanium and 18k rose gold
Water resistance: 200 m
Movement: El Primero 21
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator, and chronograph with lightning seconds
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours
Strap: Black rubber strap, Velcro strap and titanium bracelet
Limited edition: Two x pieces
Availability: Now via Loupe This (ends 07/11/22)
Price: Estimated retail price of US$22,000
The auction is now live on Loupe This and will end on November 7 2022 at 6:00pm AEST. To get your final bids in, you can register and bid via Loupe This here.