Feeling altruistic with your recent tax rebate, dividends or anticipating a thirteenth cheque? Seeking something meaningful and unique to set you apart from the crowd? The Only Watch biennial charity auction benefits research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) through the sale of one-off timepieces created by big-name luxury brands and boutique independents. For collectors with deep pockets this is an opportunity to acquire a timepiece or three, which will not be seen on the wrist of anyone else.
From unique dials to exclusive materials and complications, to the outrageously over-the-top, each exclusive piece is dedicated specifically to the cause. On Nov. 6 at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, Switzerland, there will be 53 lots from 54 participating watch brands for the ninth edition of the biennial charity auction, with Christie’s in charge of the gavel.Since its creation in 2005, the event has raised over €70m (R600m), with 99% of the proceeds going to scientific and medical research on neuromuscular diseases in general and DMD in particular, which affects one in 3,000 males at birth — that’s over a million a year.
From big splashes to small dashes, and with the 70s trend so strong right now in fashion and watch references, it’s lovely to see joyful orange as the dominant hue this year among our favourites, presented here for your careful consideration. There is something for “everyone”.
1. The Armin Strom Gravity Equal Force is the first automatic watch with constant force transmission. This means consistent power delivery to the balance, which ensures constant precision. Among its most eye-catching features are the trio of orange-coated brass bridges, orange-coated balance wheel bridge, and the hand-finished orange-coated stainless-steel hands. (Estimate R275,000 to R410,000)
2. The Bell & Ross BR 01 Cyber Skull Sapphire is constructed from six blocks with each element creating a 3D image. The skull dial was metallised in orange, the preferred colour for aeronautical instrumentation for its ultra-legibility. (R1.5m — R1.8m)
3. The Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms “No Radiation” revisits a diving instrument from the mid-60s, used by the German Navy's Combat Swimmers and featuring the characteristic symbol that indicated Blancpain did not use luminescent materials composed of radioactive radium. This forged the success of this timepiece, which has become one of the most sought-after Fifty Fathoms watches among collectors. (R195,000 — R300,000)
4. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar Tantalum features a deep blue dial echoing the colour of the metal. In a nod to the objective of this one-off creation, the graphic design of the month of November (N-OW) recalls the Only Watch abbreviation in a symbolic orange. R1.3m — R1.95m)
5. The Girard-Perregaux Casquette is a reboot of one of the manufacturer’s most iconic 70s timepieces, created in collaboration with Bamford Watch Department. Its 42.40mm x 33.60mm x 10.87mm case is made from forged carbon and titanium, and featuring titanium pushers and a tubular LED display powered by a calibre GP03980 quartz movement. (R162,000-R330,000)
6. The cushion-shaped Streamliner Flyback Chronograph Automatic was launched early last year with design inspiration from stopwatches of the 1960s and 1970s, and the lines of the aerodynamic high-speed trains of the 1920s and 1930s designed by Raymond Loewy. This minimalist sports luxe watch is reworked as the H Moser & Cie Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon featuring a Vantablack dial and one-minute flying tourbillon developed in collaboration with MB&F and Precision Engineering, H Moser & Cie’s sister company. (R972,000 — R1.3m)
7. The cushion-shaped Hermès H08 family of watches is a study in geometry that plays with circles and squares through the contours of its case and bezel, as well as the new typeface on the dial. This new line of all-terrain watches is elegant and discreet , yet masculine and modern. Available in a graphene composite or titanium case version on rubber straps or unique matching titanium bracelet, it features the self-winding Caliber H1837 movement. For Only Watch 2021, a pair of H08 watches is presented in titanium with deep orange highlights, one with metal bracelet and the other with a rubber strap. (R230,000 — R292,000)
8. Hublot fans will love the 45mm Big Bang Tourbillon in the Only Watch 2021 colour codes. This unique piece, made from transparent and orange-coloured sapphire, features the iconic Big Bang design and showcases its self-winding Tourbillon Manufacture movement. (R2.6m — R2.9m)
9. Bold and graphic, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon is a contemporary signature of the brand’s high watchmaking abilities. This special edition is presented in shades of warm and vivid orange. Paying tribute to the traditional and fine craftsmanship for which Louis Vuitton is well-known, this watch of course comes in its own special mini trunk. (R1.3m — R1.6m)
10. Sporting a delicious, ripe citrus dial, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Master Grand Date Only Watch 2021, has a 47mm case made of carbon fibre used on a Mahindra Racing car, and black DLC stainless steel. Look out for Maurice Lacroix, the official timekeeper for Mahindra Racing when the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship comes to Cape Town next year. (R195,000 — R292,000)
11. Subtle but no less desirable, the Tudor Black Bay GMT One is executed in stainless steel, finished with a “secret” ageing technique. It is powered by the METAS Master Chronometer-certified Calibre MT5652-1U self-winding mechanical movement with a 70-hour power reserve. (R65,000 — R130,000)
12. For the conscious earth watcher, the Urwerk UR-102 has a wandering hour as its only marker of time framed by a seamlessly smooth anodised aluminium case with a platinum caseback. (R520,000 — R1.2m)
13. Dynamic, uplifting colour is presented in the Zenith Defy Double Tourbillon by artist Felipe Pantone, a unique edition made in a sapphire 46mm case, it features an openwork dial and revealing the El Primero 9020 movement. The “Rainbow” PVD coating is present on bridges, hour markers and watch hands. (R2.9m — R3.6m)