Every other year, the luxury watch industry sets aside self-serving competitiveness in favour of going all-out to impress in a far more altruistic endeavor. The Only Watch biennial charity auction benefits research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) through the sale of one-off timepieces created by boutique independents and big-name luxury brands.
For top collectors it’s an opportunity to acquire rarities not found anywhere else and which showcase “the best savoir-faire in the horology world in all of its diversity”. From elegant, unique dial colour updates to new materials and complications, new case designs or the downright crazy, each exclusive piece is dedicated specifically to the event.
On November 9 at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, Switzerland, 52 watch brands will participate in the 8th edition, with Christie’s in charge of the gavel. Since its creation in 2005, the event has raised over CHF40-million (over R600-million), with 100% of the proceeds going directly to scientific and medical research on neuromuscular diseases in general and DMD in particular.
You might ask why is this event and DMD the most talked about topic in the watch industry when, according to Unicef, over 1 million people die from malaria each year, mostly children under five years of age? Not to mention war, famine, sexual abuse and environmental issues. But DMD affects one in 3, 000 males at birth – that’s over a million a year – and the well-connected founder and organiser of Only Watch Luc Pettavino has personal experience of the disease, which claimed the life of his 21-year-old son in 2016. Setting an example of how creating beauty can do good, his exceptional project supports the battle against this devastating myopathy.
Ahead of the auction, the collection will be exhibited to the public from September 25 to November 9, in 10 cities around the world, beginning at the Monaco Yacht Show. Here are some of the highlights:
1. TUDOR BLACK BAY CERAMIC ONE
This 41mm all-black model is the first BB in ceramic and is presented on a hybrid rubber and matte alligator strap. It is powered by their Calibre MT5602, complete with a black PVD-coated rotor.
2. ULYSSE NARDIN EXO-SKELETON X
Inspired by Autonomyo, a walking exoskeleton “for more freedom”, and featuring their Calibre UN-371.
3. PATEK PHILIPPE GRANDMASTER CHIME REFERENCE 6300A-010
This is the first and only version of this timepiece in stainless steel.
4. MONTBLANC 1858 SPLIT SECOND CHRONOGRAPH ONLY WATCH 2019
In the spirit of mountain exploration, Montblanc reinterprets a historical Minerva military monopusher chronograph from the 1930s with this unique piece.
5. MB&F + L’ÉPÉE “TOM & T-REX”
This crazy-looking table clock was conceived by MB&F and manufactured by L’Epée. “It tells the story of a child struck by illness, Tom, who goes on an adventure with his formidable companion, T-Rex.”
6. HERMÈS ARCEAU L'HEURE DE LA LUNE ONLY WATCH
“Traveling in another dimension, cosmic and dreamlike. Setting foot on the moon and losing one’s sense of time and space.” This edition of the Arceau L’heure de la lune for Only Watch is a unique vision of Earth’s satellite, with the simultaneous display of moon phases in both northern and southern hemispheres. Two mobile counters gravitate on a meteorite dial, revealing mother-of-pearl moons, in step with an exclusive module, coupled with a Manufacture Hermès movement.
7. HUBLOT CLASSIC FUSION TOURBILLON SAPPHIRE ORLINSKI FOR ONLY WATCH
For this transparent “work of art for the wrist”, artist Richard Orlinski has sculpted his signature edges, bevels and facets into the 45mm sapphire case with its white gold bezel set with 54 baguette-cut topazes.
8. AKRIVIA CHRONOMETRE CONTEMPORAIN FOR ONLY WATCH 2019
Rexhep Rexhepi’s elegant, exclusive platinum piece is based on his award-winning Chronomètre Contemporain and features a unique blue-grey enamel dial with hand-hammered surfaces and numerals in white enamel.
9. AUDEMARS PIGUET TOURBILLON OPENWORKED
This two-tone openworked piece is the most exciting version of their controversial Code 11.59 launched at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève early this year.
10. BOVET 1822 RECITAL 23 “HOPE”
A message of hope, this is an enchanting universe of fine engraving and miniaturist painting.
11. F.P. JOURNE ASTRONOMIC BLUE
This 44mm piece has a prototype movement featuring a double barrel, minute repeater, tourbillon with “Remontoir d’égalité” performing a complete rotation in 60 seconds and deadbeat seconds.
The dial features hours, minutes and seconds of average time; second time zone; sidereal time; sunrise and sunset; day and night indication; moon phases and power reserve. On the reverse, there are annual calendar and equation of time indicators.
12. VOUTILAINEN TP1 OW2019
This pocket watch, with its TV screen-style case, is the first collaboration between Kari Voutilainen and his 20-year-old daughter Venla, freshly graduated from watchmaking school. This unique watch is finished from LeCoultre ebauche movement.