The Best Work You May Never See: Havas Montreal Activates 54-Second Watch To Symbolize Time Stolen From LGBTQ+ Community Due To Intolerance, Violence 


Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, May. 18, 2022


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In life, time is considered to be our greatest asset. However, for a member of the LGBTQ+ community, “time” is often cut short due to unsolicited violence--physical, psychological, institutional, medical or economic.

To help bring awareness to the cause, Fondation Émergence and advertising agency Havas Montreal launched a campaign on May 17--the International Day against homophobia and transphobia--to highlight the injustice that has claimed so many victims in the LGBTQ+ community.

As a symbol for the purpose-driven campaign, Havas commissioned Switzerland’s Haute École d’Horlogerie Arc to create a never-seen-before time piece: a 54-second watch. The custom-made watch illustrates that time does not elapse the same way for all individuals.

While many specialists judged this as an impossible task, the creation of this 54-second watch posed an impressive technical challenge that Swiss watchmaking engineer Melanie Guillaume couldn’t resist. “When the team at Havas contacted me, I thought, what an intriguing idea and a great cause! But how am I ever going to be able to alter the measure of time? No one had ever willingly created a watch that doesn’t tell the right time!”

With only 12 watches made, the 54-second watch highlights in a symbolic manner, the time stolen due to intolerance and violence towards LGBTQ+ persons. Why 54 seconds? 6 seconds less for every one of the colors of the pride flag.

“When minutes are only 54 seconds long, time goes faster, years are shorter and lives end far too early. As long as there is violence, we must continue to educate and raise awareness,” said Laurent Breault, Director General of the Fondation Émergence.

“It was very important for us to create an object that could exist in the real world,” explained Félix-Antoine Brunet, art director at Havas Montreal. “We also wanted to create a digital version of the 54-second watch so that it would be easily accessible and people could demonstrate their support.”

The digital version of the 54-second watch is available to be downloaded from Google Play app.

“Our goal was to create a meaningful object that reminds us that every second counts, when it comes to supporting this cause. It’s a watch that doesn’t tell the right time, but it does tell us that the time is right to act,” shared Havas Montreal copywriters Vanessa Harbec and Olivier Goulet-Lafond in a joint statement.

Translated into over 20 languages, this message will be broadcast by organizations dedicated to the protection of LGBTQ+ persons in numerous countries around the world.

A petition to have May 17 officially recognized by the UN as the International Day against homophobia and transphobia will accompany the launch of the campaign. 


Client Fondation Émergence/International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Agency Havas Montreal Carle Coppens, executive creative director/creative director; Felix-Antoine Brunet, art director & 3D animation; Preto Murara, art director; Vanessa Harbec, Olivier Goulet-Lafond, copywriters; Marcus Hildebrandt, English Department, adaptation; Anick Rozon, Brigitte Robillard, production; Stephane Mailhiot, strategic planning; Benjamin Trottier, graphic design. Mechanism Design Mélanie Guillaume, adjunct scientist at Haute École Arc in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Watch Assembly Dominique Brouillet, watchmaker; Sarah Adatte, Swiss director. Production Nicolas Fransolet, director; Arturo Fransolet, camera assistant. Postproduction & Editing Post430 Isabelle Borduas, postproduction producer; Ludauvick Geoffroy, offline editor; Etienne Beaupre, online editor and colorist; Rosalie Begin Nadeau, assistant editor; Annie-Kim Brais, postproduction coordinator; Charlene Blanchette, production coordinator. Music/Sound Design Circonflex Tanguy Meunier, music & sound design.

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