Take a look at that luxury timepiece on your wrist. It's a statement about your personal style, and perhaps a reward to yourself for success.
But perhaps there's another story wound tightly into its intricate mechanism; one with its roots not in the affluence of the Swiss factory where it was crafted, but in a poor African village or an Indian shanty town.
You give them a feel-good factor when they ... buy an expensive watch, and on top of that they give back.
It's this type of dichotomy that provided a fascinating counterpoint to the Laureus sports awards recently staged in Kuala Lumpur.
On one hand is the extravagant, slick Oscars-like production at the opulent National Theatre of Malaysia to celebrate the finest moments of the sporting elite, broadcast live around the world; and across town the previous day, a soccer match featuring a bevy of soccer's stars and legends alongside children whose parents likely can't afford even a plastic football for them to kick around.
Straddling the two extremes is watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, which lends its considerable clout to both the Laureus World Sports Awards and the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation.
At its heart, the Foundation utilises the star power of dozens of the world's top sportspeople – past and present – to create opportunities for disadvantaged children around the world, as well as generating the publicity needed to sustain the programs.
The sponsorship of Laureus by both IWC and German carmaker Mercedes-Benz, with the heavyweight backing of their parent companies Richemont and Daimler respectively, lends a veneer of affluence and polish to both the awards and the foundation that in turn helps draw in more support from governments and private enterprise.
IWC, like many of its contemporaries, commands soaring profit margins. And like a good many, it's keen to be seen to pass on a portion of the wealth it generates.
Fellow Swiss-based watchmaker Rolex is a prime example of another company with a robust philanthropic program. Via the Rolex Institute it funnels a portion of the company's profits into promoting excellence in fields including arts, science and innovation.
The company declined to comment directly for this story on what benefits it derives from its philanthropic activities or what percentage of profits are redirected to charity.
Cynics might construe the benevolence of such wealthy watchmakers as merely an opportunity to grow already booming sales via an outwardly charitable, but ultimately hollow, feel-good factor.
Georges Kern, the head of IWC, quickly dispels any such notion. He has been the driving force behind the watchmaker's nine-year involvement with the Laureus program, which IWC's parent company Richemont helped found in 2000.
IWC's involvement includes a donation from his company of around $US1.4 million ($A1.51 million) per year. In addition, each year IWC coins a Laureus edition of one of its watches, sales of which tip a further $US500,000 into the charity's coffers. The back case of the watch each year features a designed penned by a child from one of the Foundation's programs.
In the foundation's 14-year history, more than $90 million has been raised or donated, and expended on more than 140 sporting initiatives in 34 countries.
“You have to distinguish between people and companies who are involved in CSR (corporate social responsibility) because they believe in it, and you have to consider people who are in CSR because they are pressured to do it,” Kern says. “But the result is the same, they are both doing something, so I don't care. If we, as an influencer, do pressure the companies to do it even when they're not convinced, it's still good.”
He readily admits the tie-up with Laureus generates a highly marketable “feel-good factor” for IWC's well-heeled customers.
“I don't know if I should mention it, but I think rich people have bad conscience because they're rich,” he says.
'You give them a feel-good factor when they do something good for themselves and buy an expensive watch, and on top of that they give back: 'This is a beautiful watch, I love it, and on top of that I contribute to something intelligent'.”
Kern maintains he has also become passionate about the foundation's work, which he sees as being intertwined with his company's identity. “The question we asked ourselves was, how can you do good in doing well?” he says.
“How can you spend in an intelligent way your marketing dollar to not only have an impact on sales, but also on the environment or the society?”
He recalls visiting a community in Kenya with American former 400m sprint champion Michael Johnson where the foundation had established a soccer program, and was the first time the children had ever seen a real soccer ball.
“When you see under what conditions these people are raised, it's terrible. So this was a very striking experience,” he says.
Kern says he is determined to ensure IWC has a positive impact. “We are an image company, we have this ability, we are known, we reach influential people through our watches,” he says. “So the guy who buys this, he will think about it.”
He is adamant there is no contradiction between the extravagance lavished on the Laureus sport awards and the grass-roots work of the foundation in developing countries.
“In the end it's the result which counts, we get the money, and it's the best way to get the money out of the people who can afford it,” he says.
Laureus uses as its mission statement the words of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who was a guest at the inaugural Laureus world sports awards in 2000 and famously said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where once there was only despair.”
Laureus's head of business development and commercial, Philippe Amarante, says the late statesman's words still ring true and sport remains at the heart of everything the foundation does.
“The vehicle we have, the car, is always sports, but the roads are different,” he says. “We use HIV eduction, obesity, gang crime, social exclusion, gender equality, we tackle different topics but we always use sport.”
Laureus has the backing of dozens of the world's most recognisable sportspeople, many now retired from competition and looking to give something back after their sporting careers are over. They form the Laureus Academy, an ambassadorial group that is more than a simple figurehead or publicity magnet.
Among them are chairman Edwin Moses and fellow track and field athletes Sebastian Coe, Sergey Bubka, Cathy Freeman and Daley Thompson; Dawn Fraser and Mark Spitz (swimming), Boris Becker, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova (tennis); Steve Waugh, Viv Richards and Kapil Dev (cricket); Mick Doohan, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mika Hakkinen (motorsport); and Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus (golf).
Many take several weeks out of each year to spend time in third-world countries where they conduct clinics with disadvantaged youth, along the way helping to set in place sport and education programs.
“(The athletes) want an association with a great charity that stands for something, that has substance,” Amarante says.
Michael Johnson, the four-time Olympic gold medallist who ruled the 400m sprint in the 1990s, is now one of the Laureus Academy's most active members.
“The advantage we have as Academy members is just to be able to inspire these young people with our presence, to get them to understand that someone cares about them, that they're important enough for us to take the time out of our schedules,” he says.
“You really don't fully comprehend, until you get out of the US, the need around the world for kids in some of the places that I was fortunate to travel to.
“I wanted to have an impact and Laureus was the perfect vehicle to do that because the support we have from the sponsors – as opposed to going out there and creating our own foundation – means as an athlete I can just pop in and the situation is already organised and it has the same effect, without me having to spend a lot of time figuring out how I can be most effective in sport.”
So take another look at that watch of yours, and think about whether it might be more than just a pretty face.