Zenith champions women empowerment at DreamHers event in Singapore

The watchmaker introduced a new group of passionate and inspiring women who embody the brand’s fighting spirit.

From left: Melody Hsu, Chiaki Horan, Sheila Sim, Esther Abrami, Catie Munnings and Lola Rodríguez (All photos: Zenith)

Zenith’s “Time to reach your star” philosophy is certainly inspiring. Since its establishment in 1865, the watchmaker has chosen ambassadors who push themselves to go the distance and accomplish their greatest goals, fulfilling their heart’s truest desires. The maison has an initiative called Horiz-On, governed by a corporate social responsibility committee, which focuses on three areas: inclusion and diversity, sustainability, and employee well-being. As the brand considers gender equality and women’s empowerment a core part of this initiative, its DreamHers campaign makes perfect sense.

In 2020, Zenith launched the Defy Midnight collection which championed modern femininity and echoed the “Time to reach your star” creed. Together with this, it released a global campaign that featured inspiring and relatable women who are experts in their field and who constantly push forward with their passions.

We were invited to Singapore to be introduced to the DreamHers, new group of courageous and determined women who have joined this campaign.


Tornare introduced the DreamHers and also said a few words before dinner

CEO Julien Tornare says, “I’m extremely proud to welcome so many inspiring women at Zenith. They are showing the world that no dream is too big, and that if you set your eyes on a star and dedicate yourself with passion and integrity, you can reach it. The Zenith DreamHers exemplify women’s empowerment across countless fields, and we look forward to sharing their stories and inspiring other women to chase their dreams.”

Prior to the main event, at a sumptuous brunch, we listened to a talk by Victoria Wolodzko, senior vice-president of the US-based breast cancer organisation, Susan G Komen. Zenith has been raising awareness of this disease, which impacts one in every eight women, for a long time. This year, it partnered this non-governmental organisation to continue to lend more support.

During Pinktober, Zenith released the Chronomaster Original Pink, a special edition timepiece that is based on last year’s retro-inspired chronograph. Powered by the latest El Primero automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre with 1/10th of a second measurement, this 38mm watch features a steel case and a vibrant metallic pink dial. What is also special about this wrist candy is that 20% of the proceeds will be donated to Susan G Komen, the largest funder of breast cancer research outside of the US government.

“Susan G Komen is committed to improving outcomes for all women who have been impacted by breast cancer, and we are grateful for this partnership with Zenith to amplify our message of women empowerment. Together, we can make a bigger impact in our collective fight against breast cancer,” adds Wolodzko.

The Meet the DreamHers event at Chijmes kicked off with a panel discussion with previous DreamHers, actress-model Sheila Sim and health and wellness coach Melody Hsu, as well as the newest additions: TV newscaster and personality Chiaki Horan; athlete and motoring prodigy Catie Munnings; violinist Esther Abrami; and model and actress Lola Rodríguez.

What was heartening to see was how the women were so supportive of each other, displaying chemistry and kindness, especially as most of them had only met the day before. Watching women support women was encouraging. The night was full of good spirits, including a delicious dinner and cocktails, and a surprise performance by Abrami.

We speak to three DreamHers to get to know their journey, goals, inspirations and plans for the future.


True to oneself


Rodríguez's career in acting is also her platform to echo how important representation is in the film industry

Lola Rodríguez is only 23 and already a multihyphenate: actress, model and LGBTQ+ rights activist. Coming out as transgender at the age of 11, she had the unconditional support of her family which allowed her, a young person from the Canary Islands, Spain, to become an award-winning and critically acclaimed Spanish actress.

“I grew up feeling that the world was going to reject me for who I am. And I didn’t even imagine that there was a gap for me as an actress, but Veneno came into my life, to change everything. It gave me strength, power, courage and everything that I have today. And now, I can use my voice to create bridges so that my community can have the same opportunities that everyone has. Because trans lives matter,” she says.

Veneno is a Spanish biographical television limited series which has just been given the green light for a sequel. Excited about this, Rodríguez has kept busy in between, acting in Netflix thriller Welcome to Eden, with plans to explore more roles.

“I want to be a great actress. I want to be the best me. I want to grow up and continue to believe in myself. My goal is to be focused, take care of my family and the people I love and be surrounded by them,” she adds.

Rodríguez feels touched to be chosen as a Zenith DreamHer. “It’s amazing. The girls and also the project — I feel it is so necessary and also so empowering for me to see these other women who are amazing, super strong, super confident and have done a lot of things in their lives and for the community. So it’s major,” she says.

To avoid getting lost in her whirlwind career, Rodríguez is careful to find time for herself. For instance, she plays the violin and is learning the guitar, not to perform, but rather to be creative just for herself. “I have high expectations and sometimes I don’t see the beautiful things that I can do. I’m always such a perfectionist that I forget I need to relax. Because when I’m relaxed, I can do it right. It’s impossible to replicate what is in your head … For me, being in the moment and being present was my huge lesson.”

Her career in acting is also her platform to echo how important representation is in the film industry. “That’s another opportunity to talk about more topics, more trans women, more representation, more women and artists out there, more stories to be told. It’s a huge opportunity for my community.”


Staying driven


The motorsports prodigy who races for the Andretti United team is constantly advocating for women’s equality in the workplace

When asked what “Time to reach your star” means to her, athlete Catie Munnings responds, “I think it’s quite a get-up-and-go message. It’s like the brand is taking a leap. I think we can often procrastinate a lot around our dreams, and the big stuff we put off. It’s a fear of success as well as the fear of failure. It is quite a complex psychology I think, and for me what’s so nice about the brand is that it is not afraid to dive headfirst into something. It’s a bit of a reminder that the time is now, go for your dreams.”

The motorsports prodigy who races for the Andretti United team and is constantly advocating for women’s equality in the workplace, admits that this career path was unplanned. “I never saw it as a career, I didn’t know how to make it one, I guess. It’s not as straightforward as going to school and then studying and graduating or whatever. I was doing it as a hobby. And I thought that was nicer in a way because it wasn’t forced. I was doing it because I loved it,” she says. At one point, she thought she might study to become a veterinarian.

Although aware that hers is a male-dominated sport — adding that she was often the only girl in most races — Munnings was never deterred from racing. Her passion for this hobby very organically became her profession. “It was never like something that happened overnight. You have a good year and then a bad year, you get a sponsor, you lose one, but I guess that’s life. And there was never a moment where I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna be professional’ because it happened really gradually. And luckily, I’m in a championship now which is very secure.”

She recalls how she had to balance schooling with racing very early on. “It was pretty crazy. I was testing on Wednesday in Belgium, and then Thursday morning, I had an exam in London, and then I had to get on the train to really quickly qualify that afternoon, and I had a massive crash in the middle of it all, so it made me grow up pretty quickly. My friends were partying after the exams and I was just trying to stay alive. But I think I really fell in love with motorsports in particular, because I love a challenge.”

Munnings’ competitive nature is what makes her successful in shooting for her goals.

“I saw a skill that I didn’t have, but I was so desperate to find out if I could cultivate [it], you know, if I could kind of go through that personal growth journey. And so that’s kind of what I then went into exploring.”


Attuned to change


The violinist rediscovered her passion for her instrument by taking her music online, uploading videos to share her craft with a wider audience

Not many people would say “It was love at first sight” when talking about an instrument, but Esther Abrami is clearly not like most. Introduced to the violin at the age of three by her grandmother, she went on to get lessons only when she was 10, but there was an instant connection.

“The first thing that I loved about the violin was its vibrations, the resonance, the fact that [when] you put it against your neck, it really felt like it was like part of my body … like an extension of my body. And also it felt like my voice was going through my violin.”

At 18, Abrami noticed that while all her friends were considering what to do with their lives, she had never once questioned that she would be a violinist.

“But then I got into higher music education, I got into the top performing institution for music in Europe and the focus shifted. It wasn’t about sharing music anymore but reaching for an impossible perfection. It was about competition, unhealthy competition. And I locked myself in the practice room all day, every day, and the only people I was playing to were panels in competitions and exams. I had a very limited and specific type of audience. And I started losing my love for music,” she says.

The violinist rediscovered her passion for her instrument by taking her music online, uploading videos to share her craft with a wider audience. “The main reason I started music and decided to dedicate my life to it when I was just a few years old was because I fell in love with the connection that you could have with people when you played music. The fact that I could play my violin and people would feel something was like pure magic to me as a kid,” Abrami explains.

In 2019, she became the first classical musician to be nominated in the Social Media Superstar category at the Global Awards, by broadcasting and media production company Global, and was also awarded a full scholarship for a master’s degree at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She recently achieved one of her biggest dreams: getting to play at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Advocating for women in the music industry, she also runs a podcast called “Women in Classical”.

Abrami is honoured to be a Zenith DreamHer, and says this is the first time she has felt such a connection to a watch. “I love the values of the brand. I think it’s not very common for brands to have such values and to actually give a space and a platform like this. They don’t just get somebody to model their watch but have people who have different paths. We each have a different story and they allow us to tell that story. I wear this watch with pride,” she says, motioning to her Zenith Defy Midnight.


This article first appeared on Nov 28, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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