As the golden ball of fire rose high in the sky on a crisp Saturday morning in Bangkok, a herd of elephants decorated with colourful chalk drawings on the sides of their wrinkled skin, trunks unfurled in various stages, gallantly strolled onto the field next to the mighty Chao Phraya,As the golden ball of fire rose high in the sky on a crisp Saturday morning in Bangkok, a herd of elephants decorated with colourful chalk drawings on the sides of their wrinkled skin, trunks unfurled in various stages, gallantly strolled onto the field next to the mighty Chao Phraya river to be part of a much-awaited elephant polo match. There was something unique about seeing these giant, gentle beasts being part of a sport, polo at that, given their size and gait.The ceremonial background, the bright banners, the pop up shops selling apparel, accessories, artworks, miniature decoratives and stationery along with food stalls, all added to the festive mood at the spot, while the savvy players and experienced mahouts were gearing up on the sidelines for an hour of intense play. The spectators were a mixed bag; some were dressed to the nines for the game while others chose to laze about in the lounge area donning fancy hats and sipping their coloured drinks with slim straws. There were a number of children in the audience as well and they couldn’t hold back their excitement, keen to see elephants play a game that has been around since the Mughals.HISTORY OF THE KING’S CUPSince its inception in 2001, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament has become one of the most coveted charity events globally. It not only draws curious tourists, polo aficionados and the fashion-forward jet-setters but also the commoners from different countries and across professions. The 14th edition this year was as wonderful as ever, both on and off the field, as teams representing various brands came together for an exciting match. The final match was presided over by the King of Thailand’s Royal representative.advertisementWATCH GOES UNDER THE HAMMERFor seven years, the ultra luxury Swiss watch brand Audemars Piguet, has been associated with this event. In fact in this edition in Bangkok, its team came in third while elephant conservation team Rueang Chang came in second position and King Power Duty Free emerged as the champion. The four-day sport carnival was as much a lifestyle event as a sport, given Audemars Piguet’s association with it. From exquisite dinners to an exciting auction and musical evenings with jazz artistes, the event was memorable and epitomised everything the brand stands for. Audemars Piguet is known for its perfect balance between technical innovation and watchmaking tradition, something it has been doing since 1875. True to its style, it offered the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph watch for an auction at the Bangkok event.The timepiece’s vintage safari look created much excitement during the live auction, fetching an astounding Rs 17,33,000. The Royal Oak Offshore collection challenges the traditional notions of the brand and is a sporty and powerful timepiece. The luxury sports watch is dynamic and stylish with its sizeable 42mm diameter and its generous size setting new standards for the watch industry. The pushpiece-guards fitted to the case increase the sturdiness and powerful lines of this technical and high-performance model.The khaki colour gives it a subtle charm along with technical precision. Ivory-toned dial with Mega Tapisserie pattern, brown counters and Arabic numerals, white gold Royal Oak hands with luminescent coating, and a brown inner bezel powered by the natural movements of one’s wrist had many admirers at the auction. Oliviero Bottinelli a board director, Audemars Piguet said, “It’s been a fascinating journey all these years. The King’s Cup is in its 14th edition and that speaks for itself. The best part is that it is all for a noble cause and we are getting bigger and better every year with the game; the visitors and the money raised for the welfare of wild and domesticated elephants.”SUPPORTING CONSERVATIONThe total money raised by the auction from the sale of the watch, a rare whisky, jewellery piece, work of art, etc fetched close to Rs 2,84,60000 and was donated towards the welfare of wild and domesticated elephants and to ensure their safety and survival in a sound environment. A gantry worth Rs 9,40,000 was donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) to help lame elephants and to plant approximately 4,000 trees in Hua Hin for elephant corridors to reduce conflicts. Extraordinary in every way, elephant polo is much more than a sport, especially for a brand like Audemars Piguet. It’s a tradition that has survived through the ages and supports a worthwhile cause. The jumbo sport is a tribute to this majestic animal and the brand.