The 8th edition of Only Watch, the biennial charity auction for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, took place yesterday -November 9- and… mission accomplished! After an extensive world tour exhibition, the unique timepieces created by fine watchmaking brands brought together in Geneva watch collectors and philanthropists who bid on their favorite time item while contributing to the battle of awareness about the disease. Here are our favorite one-off pieces that gave time a more humanitarian value, along with updates on the auction results, and an astounding first!
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime reference 6300A-010 – This piece brought so many firsts to both the brand and the industry! It is the one and only Grandmaster Chime made in stainless steel. It is also the most expensive watch ever sold! Estimated at CHF3,000,000 before the auction, it racked up an unbelievable CHF 31,000,000, with bids sky rocketing in flash timing! Yes, you read that right.
With two dials in rose gold and black ebony, the reversible case, adorned with a guillochéd hobnail pattern, boasts its patented reversing mechanism in all ‘modesty’. In addition to the exquisite, unique timepiece, the highest bidder also gets a unique experience for two privileged guests: a visit of the company’s workshops, a private lunch with Patek Philippe President Thierry Stern, and a visit of the museum and/or salons. Auctioned off for a first-time-ever CHF 31,000,000!
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Tourbillon Openworked Only Watch Edition – With its two-tone case showing off the architectural complexity of AP’s Code 11.59, the watch, estimated at CHF240,000, actually went for a big million! Its 18-carat pink gold octagonal middle case subtly contrasts with the 18-carat white gold extra-thin bezel, lugs and caseback, engraved with “Unique Piece.” Auctioned off for CHF1,000,000!
Breguet Type20 Only Watch 2019 – In an homage to both watchmaking and aviation, Breguet is reissuing a unique version of its Type 20 pilot chronograph from the 50s in a design that stays very faithful to the original, both esthetically and mechanically. Its 38.30mm steel case houses a dial inspired by the bronze-colored dials of very rare vintage civilian and military models. The caseback is inscribed with: “Breguet Type 20 Only Watch 2019 Pièce Unique”. This watch will be offered in a presentation box shaped like an airplane’s wing. Auctioned off for CHF210,000.
Blancpain reiterates its support for the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy (AMM) and its commitment to Only Watch by unveiling a unique Fifty Fathoms Barakuda timepiece, specifically tailored for the charity auction. The new watch reinterprets the aesthetic codes of its 1960s ancestor while benefiting from technical innovations stemming from Blancpain’s longstanding watchmaking experience. Its black dial is punctuated by broad white hour markers in Super-LumiNova® with blue luminescence. The pencil-shaped hands are white-lacquered and the seconds hand is rimmed with light blue, while a key element of the original model, the date, goes back to its favourite position in a prominent window. The sapphire caseback reveals an oscillating weight engraved with the inscription “Only Watch”, as well as the Blancpain logo. Paired with a tropical rubber strap identical to that of the historical models, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda for Only Watch is a new take on vintage.
Christophe Claret Maestro Corail – Inspired by the Maestro Mamba watch that is part of the collection, this unique timepiece brings the voluptuous undulations of a coral snake to the heart of the Maestro watch. Maestro’s characteristic MEMO function, placed between 3 and 4 o’clock, is an ingenious mechanical reminder intended for absent-minded individuals and fans of technical gadgets. It is inspired by the expression “tie a knot in your handkerchief” to help one remember something important. The Maestro Corail provides a constant reminder of fate and the fragile nature of time.
De Bethune & Urwerk Moon Satellite for Only Watch 2019 – Since united we are stronger in the fight against disease’, independent watchmaking “Maisons” De Bethune and Urwerk joined their creative energies to create a unique timepiece is a complex support of Only Watch 2019. The case challenges established norms, fusing the design and function genetics of both De Bethune and Urwerk with its floating lugs and the singular vibrancy of blued titanium. Under the hood and curved sapphire crystal lies an impressive mechanical universe with the one-off URDB01 caliber jointly developed for this very special auction, the crown at 12 o’clock, spherical moon phase and URWERK’s signature time indication with the now-famous satellite window in an arc that evokes the sun’s curvature. Proper images of the watch haven’t been unveiled yet, so we’re all looking forward to discovering the mysterious timepiece! Auctioned off for CHF300,000.
F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue for Only Watch 2019 – Always a favorite when it comes to design and technicality, FPJ presents a grande complication for this edition of Only Watch. The Astronomic Blue is unique not only in its dial and case, but also in its entire movement and multiple indications. The rare metal tantalum 44mm case, and orange alligator strap contrasting with the signature chrome blue dial make it quite eye-catchy! Despite the impressive number of complications included in the watch, the case’s thickness doesn’t exceed 13.75mm. The biggest technical feat here is undoubtedly the prototype calibre “1619” with more than 18 complications! Auctioned off for an impressive CHF1,800,000!
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la lune Only Watch – A quick look at this timepiece reveals an artistic, captivating dial that seems to tell a story, beyond space and time. Offering a unique vision of Earth’s satellite with the simultaneous, displays of moon phases in both northern and southern hemispheres, the Arceau L’heure de la lune presents two mobile counters gravitating on a meteorite dial, revealing very realistic, mother-of-pearl moons in step with an exclusive module, coupled with a Manufacture Hermès movement. At 12 o’clock, a subtle Pegasus -representing the origins of Hermès- designed by the “dreamer-designer” Dimitri Rybaltchenko appears in the moon. Entitled Pleine Lune, this portrayal of the winged horse hints at a passage between two worlds, where magic and reality merge. Auctioned off for CHF210,000!
Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Sapphire Orlinski for Only Watch – Hublot fused its Classic Fusion Orlisnki Sapphire watch with Only Water’s blue colors to create a unique piece, a new work of art for the wrist. The signature edges, bevels and facets of artist Richard Orlinski’s sculptures are sculpted into sapphire, one of the most difficult materials to machine. The white gold bezel, set with 54 baguette-cut topazes, is held by a 45mm, entirely transparent case that reveals an open-worked architecture showcasing the gears, tourbillon cage and power reserve. Powered by a stylized skeleton calibre, the watch be delivered in a sapphire gift box, ‘held’ by the famous “Wild Kong” by Richard Orlinski. The owner will have the opportunity to meet with Richard Orlinski at his art gallery in Paris. This one’s a time x art x charity experience! Auctioned off for CHF240,000.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel Chestnut – An exceptional piece where the codes of the Master Ultra Thin collection have been reinterpreted by the Métiers Rares® workshop to create a unique watch. With its perpetual calendar calibre, moon phase indication in both hemisphere north and South, handmade guilloché enamel dial made by the manufacture craftsmen, this “Métiers Rares” execution of a piece from the core collection takes a distinctive face thanks to its exclusive chestnut color.
Auctioned off for CHF60,000.
MB&F ‘Tom & T-Rex’ – For this edition of Only Watch, MB&F and L’Epée h ave made the unprecedented choice to contribute on a previously unreleased piece, highlighting the special nature of the auction. ‘Tom & T-Rex’ will be the first example of the T-Rex clock co-created by MB&F and L’Epée 1839. A sculpture mounted atop the body of the hybrid beast differentiates this piece from its predecessors. Shaped like the figure of a young child named Tom by its creators the rider of T-Rex is both companion and ward of his redoubtable steed. He specifically represents the children living with the Duchenne disease, and spends his waking days tethered to an unfavorable reality. However, he has found in T-Rex a friend who can take him on adventures beyond his wildest dreams. The “Only Watch” unique piece, a true message of hope and positivity, uses light-blue tinted Murano glass. Time is set with a key, fitted through the centre of the Murano glass dial, while the 8-day power reserve is separately maintained with the same key at the rear of the movement which is made of 138 components. Auctioned off for CHF75,000.
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Only Watch 2019 – The snow-capped mountain-peak brand unveiled for the first time, a wristwatch combining a 44mm case in full satin-finished titanium grade-two; the hand-crafted Montblanc Manufacture Monopusher Chronograph calibre MB M16.31; a brand-new matching Sfumato alligator strap; and a unique blue dial made of degraded blue Agate. Definitely a collectors’ item, the one-of-a kind watch reinterprets a historical Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s, in the spirit of mountain exploration. Auctioned off for CHF100,000.
RJ ARRAW 6919 ‘Only Watch’ – The independent Swiss watchmaker has designed a new ARRAW 6919 specially for Only Watch. The ARRAW 6919 ‘Only Watch’, made of titanium, boasts a one-of-a-kind, customized moon phase moveme nt. An adorable special 3D applique secured on the moon phase indicator driving wheel represents the Apollo 11 Command and Service Module (CSM). The geographic selenographic coordinates engravings add the finishing touch to the wheel’s design. The first coordinates correspond to the launch site at the Kennedy Space Station, and the second ones refer to the moon landing site on the Tranquility Base. The watch contains authentic material sourced from the original Apollo 11 spacecraft. Auctioned off for CHF24,000.
Ulysse Nardin Exo-Skeleton X – Inspired by Autonomyo, a walking exoskeleton for more freedom, the development of this concept watch is closely interlinked with the very cause it supports, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The piece sports a carapace giving it a bionic look and accentuating its ergonomic design, which has matching ergonomic wear. The flexible double blade attached with two screws, one on the case and the other on the lug, enhances the Exo-Skeleton X‘s flexibility by allowing some movement between the lug bar and the case. Auctioned off for CHF35,000.
Will this year’s astonishing highest-bid ever be topped off at next year’s auction or did we witness a once-in-a-lifetime gigantic gesture of human charity?