Since its inception in 2005, Only Watch has raised more than 70 million Euros throughout its eight editions, with 99 percent of proceeds going directly to research projects on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
This year, the highly anticipated biennial auction of exclusive luxury timepieces returns for its ninth edition on 6 November. To be held once again under the High Patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and for the third consecutive time with Christie’s auction house, at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, a total of 54 world renowned watch manufacturers will be participating by each creating a one-of-a-kind luxury timepiece to be auctioned.
Previous editions have seen the likes of Patek Philippe, Tudor, Chanel, Chopard and more raising millions for the good cause with their unique creations. Patek Philippe – well regarded as part of the Holy Trinity of luxury watch brands, alongside Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin – unsurprisingly set a new record at the 2019 Only Watch, with its Grandmaster Chime Ref 6300A auctioned off at a staggering USD31 million, far surpassing the watch’s estimated USD2.5 million to USD3 million range.
It’s worth repeating that the millions raised are for the research against DMD, an inherited muscular disease that primarily affects boys. Luc Pettavino founded the charity auction following his own son Paul’s diagnosis with the disease. Paul tragically passed away at the young age of 21, but Pettavino’s determination never wavered in carrying on his altruistic mission. Pettavino, now serving as the President of Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, has shared that the researchers supported by the association “have reached the promising stage of preparation for a first clinical trial in 2022, with the reasonable hope of changing the lives of thousands of young people and families.”
While we await the stratospheric ninth edition of Only Watch, let us take a peek at some of the resplendent timepieces that will be part of the forthcoming auction. As highlighting each and every piece will require an extensive list, we’ve whittled it down to a select few that are sure to pique any watch or clock collector’s interest.
OCTO FINISSIMO PERPETUAL CALENDAR TANTALUM
A watch made of one of the rarest metals is Bvlgari’s offering in its first participation in Only Watch. Previous renditions of the brand’s seventh world record and slimmest perpetual calendar watch on the market have so far utilised titanium and platinum as their cases but for the auction, the one-off creation is housed in the extremely rare tantalum. A deep blue 40 mm dial echoes the bluish grey colour of the metal, used for the crown and case, the latter which measures at only 5.80 mm thick and is water-resistant to 30 metres, with a transparent back revealing the slim 2.75 mm Manufacture BVL Calibre 305. The Only Watch abbreviation in a symbolic orange shade can be seen incorporated into the graphic design of the month of November, highlighting the objective of the watch’s creation.
Estimate: USD87000 – USD130500 (RM360876 – RM541314)
COMPLICATED DESK CLOCK
Inspired by a desk clock delivered to James Packard in 1923, now preserved in the Patek Philippe Museum, this complicated desk clock Ref. 27001M-001 bears strong resemblance to its predecessor but with several unique touches of its own. Powered by the new caliber 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE and encased in a 164.6 x 125 x 76.3mm sterling silver cabinet with vermeil decorative elements and American walnut inlays, the Grand Complication housed within features a perpetual calendar, moon phases, week-number display and power-reserve indication (31 days). The clock, adjusted to a precision rate of -1/+1 second per day, has a yellow-gilt opaline dial that is a near identical – albeit larger – version of the one seen on the 2019 Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300A.
Estimate: USD440000 – USD550000 (RM1825120 – RM2281400)
TAMBOUR CURVE GMT FLYING TOURBILLON, ONLY WATCH 2021
Fly high with this one-of-a-kind addition to Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon series. Its 46 mm titanium case, with domed anti-reflection sapphire crystal and is water-resistant to 50 metres, houses a self-winding mechanical movement, the LV 82 Calibre, developed and assembled by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. The dial features a red to yellow gradient-effect base and indexes set with orange baguette-cut sapphires, reflecting the colour codes of the auction. Set at 9 o’clock is the flying tourbillon carriage, sporting a “V” shape inspired by Gaston Vuitton, which completes a rotation in one minute. At 3 o’clock is the GMT subdial, with LV-shaped hands, which can be set to display a second time zone.
Estimate: USD87000 – USD109000 (RM360876 – RM452132)
BREGUET TYPE XX ONLY WATCH 2021
Paying tribute to the first generation of the civilian Type XX chronograph introduced during the 1950s and 1960s, Breguet’s faithful re-edition of its renowned pilot’s watch retains the original’s 38.30 mm diameter and comes with a bronze-coloured dial, a nod to the same colour seen on the dials of the rare military and civilian models sold at the time. This new version, fitted with a screwed steel caseback that provides water resistance to 3 bar (30 metres), features a 30-minute totaliser at 3 o’clock with an increased diameter, a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, a central chorograph counter, hours chapter with luminescent Arabic numerals and luminescent hands, which are colloquially known as “syringes” due to their shapes.
Estimate: USD38000 – USD54000 (RM157624 – RM223992)
CASQUETTE – ONLY WATCH EDITION
When the Casquette made its debut in 1976, it effortlessly captured attention thanks to its futuristic space-themed appearance and avant-garde styling. Fast forward to nearly five decades later, Girard-Perregaux now teams up with Bamford Watch Department to reinterpret the iconic watch, bringing back the retro timepiece but with a contemporary twist. Sharing the same look as its 1970s predecessor with its sapphire glass and LED display, this Only Watch 2021 edition is upgraded with a new quartz movement, with a second time zone, a chronograph and a “secret date” added to the original inventory of functions that include hours, minutes, seconds and date. The inclusion of the secret date function allows the display of a significant date on a daily basis, as programmed by the wearer.
Estimate: USD10900 – USD22000 (RM45213 – RM91256)
ZENITH x FELIPE PANTONE
DEFY DOUBLE TOURBILLON FELIPE PANTONE – UNIQUE PIECE FOR ONLY WATCH
Inspired by the 2021-launched Defy 21 Felipe Pantone, this 46 mm watch sports an openworked dial and its transparent sapphire case, a first in Zenith‘s Defy collection, houses an El Primero 9020 movement. It is regulated by two independent tourbillons, which operate at 5Hz for the timekeeping function of the movement and 50Hz for the 1/100th of a second chronograph, rotating at rates of 60 seconds and 5 seconds respectively. Lending a striking burst of colours against the black laser engraved main plate are rainbow PVD coated bridges, hands and hour markers. The same rainbow effect is observed on the watch’s metal container. Inclusive in the watch’s purchase is an artwork by Felipe Pantone and a special box, made to resemble an art book, signed by the artist himself.
Estimate: USD195000 – USD240000 (RM808860 – RM995520)
BIG BANG TOURBILLON ONLY WATCH
Bearing the exuberant colour code of Only Watch 2021, this Hublot creation is supplied with two interchangeable rubber straps in Only Watch Orange and White. In keeping with the theme, five of the 42 components that make up its 45 mm case are cut in transparent and orange-coloured sapphire. Also made from polished sapphire, its skeleton dial reveals the mechanics of the MHUB6035 calibre, a self-winding manufacture tourbillon movement newly launched by the brand in January, which is inaugurally equipped with a barrel bridge, an automatic watch bridge and a tourbillon bar all composed of sapphire. The system ensures a 72-hour power reserve.
Estimate: USD170000 – USD195000 (RM705160 – RM808860)
THE J12 PARADOXE ONLY 2
Another matte black and white pairing is Chanel’s offering this edition, following the 2019 J12 duo that made history as the first pair of watches to be auctioned together in Only Watch. While the monochromatic theme remains, the difference is in the unique “mix” of colours. Each watch sports both colours without actually mixing, instead creating an interesting line of separation. Made of highly resistant ceramic and steel, with water resistance up to 50 metres, both 38 mm watches are equipped with the self-winding Caliber 12.1 movement manufactured exclusively for Chanel, chronometer-certified by the COSC.
Estimate (for the pair): USD38000 – USD44000 (RM157624 – RM182512)
BELL & ROSS
BR 01 CYBER SKULL SAPPHIRE ONLY WATCH
Instead of the typical monochromatic theme found on a Bell & Ross SKULLS model, this version made exclusively for Only Watch 2021 dons a bright orange skull embedded within. The colour is chosen not only as a nod to the auction’s emblematic colour code, but also for its high level of legibility. Sitting on a skeleton dial, the skull is sculpted of transparent sapphire and metallised on the back, which has a smooth side, to achieve the vibrant tint. With a length of 43.30 mm and width of 45 mm, the case is made of full sapphire, with a faceted grade 5 titanium crown and a sapphire caseback, through which the BR-CAL 206 hand-wound movement that powers it could be admired. The movement is brilliantly concealed as its main plate closely follows the shape of the skull above it, in turn giving the skull the appearance of floating weightlessly in the case.
Estimate: USD99000 – USD120500 (RM410652 – RM499834)
The simplistic name bestowed upon this clock is undeniably self-explanatory given its unique shape. Bringing something for the desk instead of for the wrist for Only Watch 2021, Ulysse Nardin presents UFO. Yet another piece that pays homage to this year’s auction’s colour code, this “unidentified floating object” was originally released in metallic blue, of which all the 75 limited edition pieces released in April 2021 have already sold out. As with its blue brethren, this one-off orangehued timepiece traces Ulysse Nardin’s nautical-immersed horological history, while serving as the brand’s interpretation of a marine chronometer’s appearance 175 years into the future. Its six extra-large barrels provides one-year power reserve, while its three trapezoidal dials allow a display of three different time zones at once, viewable from three different angles.
Estimate: USD65000 – USD87000 (RM269620 – RM360876)
(Main image: Hublot, Other photos: Respective brands)