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Column: Luxury watch firm buying time for world’s poor

By Maria Saporta

Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, March 1, 2013

For Hamilton Powell, a 32-year-old Atlanta entrepreneur, it’s all about time.

His one-year-old Atlanta business — Crown & Caliber — buys and sells luxury watches from around the world.

And every time Crown & Caliber makes a sale, the company puts aside $25 in a fund that goes to the nonprofit MAP International to help buy more time for people living in some of the most impoverished parts of the world.

“The world has enough companies,” Powell said. “This needs to be something that will outlast the company — that we can do a greater good.”

Powell also believes the secondary market for luxury watches currently is untapped and underserved. Last year, there were sales of $14 billion in brand-new Swiss luxury mechanical watches. Of those sales, only $1 billion was in the United States.

“The pre-owned market grows every year,” said Powell, who envisions Crown & Caliber becoming a leading trusted online purchaser and seller of luxury watches.

But Powell also knew that growing a business from two employees when he started to 13 today would not be enough. He wanted his company to also help save people’s lives.

After doing some research of local charities, the company settled on MAP International, which is co-headquartered in Atlanta and Brunswick, in what it calls its “Buying Time” movement.

Already Crown & Caliber has donated enough money to buy 10,000 Z-Paks for sick children around the world. A Z-Pak (which stands for azithromycin) is a five-day dose of the medicine that treats many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

“The product we are buying every day measures the scarcest thing that we have every day — time,” said Powell, a fourth-generation Atlantan. “We wanted to use our effort in buying watches to save lives — and give people more time.”

Heroes, Saints & Legends

The Foundation of Wesley Woods will honor three “Heroes, Saints & Legends” at its annual dinner on May 9 — retired Channel 2 anchor Monica Kaufman Pearson; The University of Georgia’s Vince Dooley; and Emory University’s Allan Levey. The dinner will be held at the Atlanta History Center.

“There are so many people who love all three of these people in different ways,” said Mike Watson, president and CEO of the Foundation of Wesley Woods. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful evening.”

Watson said Levey will be receiving the “Key to a Cure” award for his ground-breaking research in the field of neurodegenerative disease. He is chairman of the Department of Neurology at Emory University and director of the Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

Dooley is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, being named twice as the NCAA National Coach of the Year (1980 and 1982). He was the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs for 25 years with a total of 201 victories and 20 bowl games. For 15 years after retiring from active coaching, he remained as UGA’s athletic director.

In 1975, Pearson became the first African-American and the first woman to anchor a 6 p.m. newscast in Atlanta, and held the same position at the same station longer than any other television personality in Atlanta. She officially retired from Channel 2 on July 25.

Watson said he hopes the event will generate $250,000 — half will go to research and half will go to care for those staying at the Wesley Woods senior living community who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

JA Business Hall of Fame

Junior Achievement of Georgia must have picked well when they inducted Egbert Perry and Carol Tomé into the 2013 JA Business Hall of Fame on Feb. 9.

At its 24th annual event, JA broke its previous record and raised $575,000. The previous record was $540,000, and that was set just last year, according to Jack Harris, JA-Georgia’s president.

Perry is chairman and CEO of the Integral Group, a real estate developer and builder. And Tomé is chief financial officer and executive vice president of corporate services for The Home Depot Inc.

About $70,000 of those donations will go to support JA’s Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center, currently under construction at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Ronald McDonald House

The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities has named Jeff Wansley as its new board chair.

Wansley is vice president of government affairs for the Metro Atlanta Chamber, where he helps set the organization’s legislative agenda.

Previously, Wansley served on the staff of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He also has worked for Atlanta Gas Light Co., the National Association of Manufacturers and Equifax.

Wansley was elected to the Ronald McDonald House board in 2002. The organization provides temporary housing and support services to families of critically ill and injured children being treated at local hospitals.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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