Later this year, watch collectors and philanthropists alike, will have the opportunity to bid on an exquisite selection of unique timepieces from the world’s finest brands. The occasion is the eighth edition of Only Watch, a biennial charity auction established in 2005. Christie’s are serving as the auctioneer for the second edition running and will once again be performing this service gratis. (That means no buyer’s premium on sold lots). An incredible 52 brands are participating, including the likes of Blancpain, Breguet and Tudor to name but a few.
Read on to learn more about this very worthy charity auction and to discover some of our favourite entries.
The Only Watch charity auction was conceived by Luc Pettavino, co-founder of the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) and the former CEO and shareholder of the Monaco Yacht Show. AMM was set up in 2003 to raise funds to support scientific and medical research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Pettavino’s son suffered from this genetic disorder and sadly passed away in November 2016 at the age of 21.
The concept is simple. The world’s best watchmaking brands create unique versions of their watches and donate them for sale. The first edition took place in Monaco in 2005 under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. Since then, the biennial event has continued to grow in size and popularity. Over 40 million Swiss Francs (roughly AUD 58m) has been raised to date to fund research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
With 50 unique pieces on offer this year, that total is set to get exponentially higher. All the more impressive is the fact that 99% of the proceeds raised from the sale will go directly to funding research projects.
Watches of Switzerland is proud to say that five of our partner brands are donating unique pieces to Only Watch this year. Learn more about their ONLY WATCH special entries below, as well as their alternative models available at Watches of Switzerland.
In the 1960s, Blancpain worked with a company called Barakuda that was specialised in the production and marketing of technical diving equipment in Germany. Together they supplied dive watches to the German Bundesmarine, as well as the civilian market. The latter boasted a distinctive style, notably featuring the use of two-tone rectangular hour-markers, white-painted fluorescent hands, as well as a highly visible date display at 3 o’clock. If you didn’t know already, the Fifty Fathoms was the very first modern diving watch. (Read the full story here).
For Only Watch 2019, Blancpain has created a unique edition of the production model Fifty Fathoms Barakuda watch it debuted at Baselworld earlier this year. Presented in a 40mm steel case, it features a black dial with contrasting white hour-markers and subtle blue highlights. This particular shade of blue is the official colour of Only Watch 2019 and gives the Barakuda a very different look and feel to the production model. A fact that will no doubt make it popular with collectors. Inside is the Calibre 1151 self-winding movement, its twin barrels ensuring a 100-hour power reserve. Click here to find out more about the limited edition general release.
Breguet has a long-standing history with the world of aviation. In the early fifties, the French Ministry of Defense drew up specifications with a view to purchasing chronograph wristwatches for its Air Force, to be known as Type 20. Drawing on its experience in this area, Breguet expressed its interest and designed a model that was quickly approved by the authorities. Introduced in 1954 as a pilot watch equipped with a flyback chronograph, these models have become the stuff of legend and are highly prized by collectors.
For Only Watch, Breguet is offering a unique and faithful recreation of the original Type 20 (or Type XX as it is often called). Of particular note is the dial, which is inspired by the very rare civilian and military models with a bronze-colored dial sold at the time. Inside is a Valjoux 235 movement, which is derived directly from the Valjoux 222 used in the fifties. Unfortunately, there’s nothing quite like this model currently in production by Breguet. The Type XX “Aeronavale” is a great alternative though, click here to find out more.
Hublot has been a partner of Only Watch since its inception in 2005. The Swiss watch manufacturer always goes the extra mile to create something truly special for the charity auction, and this edition is no different. The Classic Fusion Tourbillon Sapphire Orlinski is a dazzling, bejewelled watch created in collaboration with contemporary artist Richard Orlinski.
Presented in a 45mm Classic Fusion case hewn entirely from sapphire, it is topped with a white gold bezel, set with 54 baguette-cut topazes. Sculpted into the sapphire, are the signature edges, bevels and facets synonymous with Orlinski’s work. The winning bidder will also have the opportunity to meet the artist at his art gallery in Paris. If you like the look, there is also a production version of this watch available complete with sapphire case and manufacture tourbillon movement, click here to find out more.
It’s no secret that Jaeger-LeCoultre makes stunningly beautiful, and exceptionally complicated timepieces. This special variation of the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual offers equal measures of both. The 38mm white gold case houses a perpetual calendar calibre, capable of displaying, the day, date, month, year and moon phase indications in both hemispheres.
Making it unique is the eye-catching chestnut brown sunburst guilloché enamel dial created in house by the talented artisans who work together in the Rare Handcrafts™ (Métiers Rares®) department. The guilloché work was carried out by hand on both the dial and the counters by Jaeger‑LeCoultre’s artisans. Of particular note is the delicately engraved moonphase display at 6 o’clock. For those that cannot make it to the Geneva auction day, there is also a production version with a blue enamel dial, but even this piece is limited to just 100! Click here to discover more.
If there is one brand that has really surprised at the last few editions of Only Watch, it’s Tudor. In 2015, the Heritage Black Bay One, a homage piece to the Submariner 7923 of the 1950s, hammered at an astonishing CHF 375,000 (approx. AUD 546k). 100 times over its low estimate. At the next edition in 2017, Tudor followed this up with a Black Bay Bronze, offered in a unique configuration with the winding crown on the left and a khaki green dial. That watch again blitzed its estimates, hammering for CHF 350,000 (approx. AUD $509k.)
Undoubtedly Tudor is hoping for a repeat performance again this year, which is why they’ve created the unique Black Bay Ceramic One. The watch is entirely matte black, from the case (which is a blend of ceramic, steel and titanium) to the dial and hands that are filled with black luminescent material, as well as the hybrid rubber and matte alligator strap. If you are looking to achieve this stealth look yourself, the closest production model is the Black Bay Dark, with its black PVD-coated steel case, Take this link to the dark side.
Taking place on the 9th of November at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues, in Geneva, the Only Watch 2019 edition promises to be a significant date on the watch industry calendar, to have a similar experience of exclusive high end watches please make plans to visit a Watches of Switzerland boutique in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and coming very soon, Canberra; contact your nearest Watches of Switzerland Boutique here.