For 2019, Only Watch, the charity auction that happens once every two years, there are a total of 50 lots for sale (from 52 participating manufacturers). One distinguishing factor that makes this biennial auction so great is that, unlike opaque charity initiatives that claim “a portion of the proceeds goes to charity,” Only Watch is very transparent about where the proceeds go. They explicitly state that 99% of the total proceeds go directly to create awareness and to fund research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The remaining 1% covers the considerable operation costs of the auction, which this year is run by Christie’s.
The other key differentiating factor of Only Watch Charity Auction is the unique timepieces. Each of the watch manufacturers has only one fundamental requirement: donate a timepiece that’s different from anything in their current collection. This generally does not result in timepieces that are brand new from the ground up; instead, new materials or colors are typically utilized to create highly collectible, desirable, one-of-a-kind wristwatches.
Last week, in advance of the auction – which will be held in Geneva, at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva on November 9th – Professional Watches visited Christie’s in New York and prepared this photo report of six lots that stood out to us. We selected only six lots, but in reality, all 50 lots are worthy and if you have the means this is an incredible way to land a watch that nobody else has, and donate to an important charity at the same time.
Independent watchmaker, Armin Strom, famous for creating a functioning resonance timepiece, produced a custom blue dial version of their Pure Resonance for Only Watch utilizing this patented resonance technology.
The Pure Resonance Only Watch 2019 is housed in a 42 mm stainless steel case and features an off-center blue sunburst dial with white printed Roman numeral hours markers, a white train track chapter ring, and steel hour and minute hands. In the lower section of the dial is subdial in a light blue (in the signature blue hue of Only Watch) with a circular guilloche finish. To the left are the dual balance wheels oscillating in resonance to regulate the timekeeping with high precision. In the background of the dial are vertical Geneva stripes on the bridges giving this timepiece an elegant look. Read More
Estimate: $49,000 – $55,000
Tudor Watch Company’s best-selling Black Bay line makes up the bulk of their collection, which consists mostly of stainless steel timepieces. The Black Bay, for the first time ever, comes in a ceramic case.
At 41 mm x 14.8 mm the dimensions are the same as the standard Black Bay line, and apart from the black PVD-coated rotor, the same caliber MT5602 in-house automatic movement drives hours, minutes, and seconds. There’s no date. The dial is completely matte black with black gloss markings and darkened applied hours markers and darkened hands, both with black luminescent material and green emission.
Tudor’s first ceramic case Black Bay case is not the first from the company, but the matte black bead-blasted finish and beveled edges have a profound look compared to the Black Shield which also features a black ceramic case or even the all-black steel Black Bay Dark. This time around the Black Bay has a lighter tone to it and the unidirectional bezel is distinctive in that it’s made of matte black PVD treated titanium with a matte black ceramic insert.
The Black Bay Ceramic One (Ref. M7921/001CN) comes with a hybrid black alligator leather and rubber strap with a matte black PVD-treated folding clasp. Read More
Estimate: $4,500 – $5,500
German watchmaker Moritz Grossman created a unique version of their Réserve de Marche Classique timepiece, housed in a white gold case measuring 41 mm x 11.65 mm. The watch features a gorgeous solid silver rhodium-plated dial with a sunburst finish, a frosted small seconds dial at 6 o’clock, and printed Roman numeral hour markers with unique marks in the light blue shade of Only Watch on the outer ring. Razor-thin blued hands against the silver dial look quite stunning.
Located just under the logo is a horizontal power reserve indicator, specially made in blue for Only Watch. If the line is white the power reserve is full and it gets increasingly blue letting you know it’s time to wind. The movement is manually wound which is done via the Grossman winder with push-button winding using the button on the caseband at 4 o’clock.
Flip the watch over and you’ll see beautifully untreated German silver bridges hand-finished with beveled and polished edges, Glashutte stripes, screwed gold chatons with white sapphire bearings, purpled screws, hand-engraved balance cock, and a ratchet wheel decorated with three-band snailing.
The Réserve de Marche Classique sapphire glass on the movement side is signed with the founder’s name “Christine Hutter.”
Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000
Jaeger-LeCoultre produced a version of the Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar timepiece for Only Watch 2019. Housed in a 39 mm x 10.44 mm white gold case, and powered by automatic caliber 868A/2, the most distinguishing feature visually is the unique chestnut-colored enamel dial with a guilloché-work pattern.
Created within the company’s famed Métiers Rares® workshop, the hand made enamel dial is as artistically impressive as the complicated perpetual calendar movement is horological significant. Measuring just 4.72 mm thick and comprising 332 components, the 4Hz Jaeger-LeCoultre movement features a skeletonized rose gold automatic rotor, 46 jewels, and a 70-hour power reserve. Impressively, this ultra-thin movement offers hours, minutes, central seconds, and perpetual functions: day, month, moon phases in 2 hemispheres (North and South simultaneously), and a red security zone indication.
The Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel Chestnut is a horological work of art in a conservatively sized, classicly style precious metal case.
Estimate: $55,000 – $70,000
Christophe Claret contributed a special version of their existing Maestro timepiece for Only Watch 2019 featuring a deadly Coral snake wrapped around the movement. This is not the first time the company has used snake for a limited edition Maestro, they also previously made a version with a deadly Mamba snake.
The watch case measures 42 mm x 16.6 mm and is crafted from black PVD-treated grade 5 titanium, with a hand-engraved Coral snake that’s been painted blue and orange that contrasts the matte black movement. Along with the snake, on the dial side, you can see the primary movement components raised above the mainplate, such as the patented large date display, composed of two cones – one for the tens on the upper part and the second for the units – and performing a semi-instantaneous jump between midnight and twenty past midnight.
In addition to the patented date display, there’s a Memo function which has a mechanical display located between 3 and 4 o’clock and controlled by the pusher at 2 o’clock that can remind you when something needs to be done. The Maestro Corail (Ref. MTR.DMC16.907) comes on a genuine blue snakeskin strap.
Estimate of $86,000 – $106,000
Patek Philippe first introduced the rare and highly complicated Grandmaster Chime in 2014, during Patek Philippe’s 175th Anniversary party. At the time the Grandmaster Chime was only available in precious metal, and with a unique hand-engraved case. For Only Watch 2019, a special one-of-a-kind version of the Grandmaster Chime has been produced for the first time in stainless steel.
The Grandmaster Chime Only Watch 2019 has a fully polished reversible stainless steel case measuring 47.7 mm x 16.07 mm and with two dials, one in rose gold, with a hand-guilloched hobnail pattern and the other in ebony. The words “The Only One” appear at 12 o’clock on the auxiliary 24-hour dial. This grand complication features 20 complications, including five chiming modes, two of which are patented world firsts: an acoustic alarm that strikes the preselected time and a date repeater sounding the date on demand.
Driving all the functions is caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM which is a manually wound mechanical movement in addition to central hours, minutes, and seconds, the timepiece features a strike work isolator indicator, second time zone with day/night indicator, day, date (on both dials), month, leap-year cycle by hands, four-digit year display in an aperture, 24-hour and minute subdial, and crown position indication (R,A,H).
Historically, Patek Philippe watches at auction – such as at Only Watch 2017 where the Patek lot sold for over $6 million – regularly command seven-figure final sales prices, and this year is no different. In speaking with Christie’s watch auction consultant, John Reardon, he told Professional Watches that in his opinion this lot could potentially reach eight-figures. Interestingly, he also said the version of this unique piece pictured was created exclusively to show to consumers and press during the promotional part of the Only Watch tour, but that after the winning bid is confirmed, Patek Philippe indicated to him that they will destroy this “prototype” and remake the exact same watch for the winner so they receive a brand new timepiece. Read More
Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,000,000