The Luxury Chronicle


by Neelima Agrawal

Every two years, the luxury watch industry is abuzz for the event that is all heart and not about profits, the ‘Only Watch Auctions’, for which the Swiss community of watch makers create a one-off unique watch only for this auction. The entire proceeds from the auction are given away as charity to fund medical research in the field of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weaknessThis year, the 8th edition of the biennial charity ‘Only Watch Auctions’ had participation from 52 manufacturers, where 50 watches were up for auction. The event conducted by Christies’s at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva on November 9, 2019, fetched a hefty $38.6 million (€ 35,106,420) by end of day. Mini history was made when the rare Patek Philippe first and only Grand master Chime in steel, sold for $31 million, becoming the Most Expensive Watch in the world. In view that in its first seven editions since 2005 the event raised € 40 million in all, the figures this time round were impressive. The proceeds benefit the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy (AMM), headed by Luc Pettavino, who is the founder and organizer of Only Watch. The event has the patronage of Prince Albert of Monaco. Luc founded the organization in 2003, when his son was diagnosed with DMD.

As a run up to the final event, the watch collection travelled the world after it was first revealed to the public in September at the Monaco Yacht Show. For seven weeks, it travelled to Dubai, Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei. Pettavino, who is also the CEO of the Monaco Yacht Show, is reported to have said, “The 2019 world tour was the most intense and exciting ever. Not a single hour passed by when we didn’t engage with collectors, journalists, influencers, partners. The Only Watch community has just grown bigger and I’m truly happy about it.” This is the second time Chirstie’s is the auctioneer for the event. As quoted on Christie’s website, Pettavino said, “At least 99 per cent of funds raised by Only Watch goes to research. Watchmakers design the watches. Christie’s does the auctioneering. Air France will offer tickets. A paper company delivers tonnes of paper. Ferrari Group knows how to transport the watches all over the world and graciously provides this service…”.

Here is a list of some of the most exciting watches that were part of the auction.

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010

The watch sold for $31 million, against an estimate for $2.5 – $3 million. It stands out as the only version of the manufacturer’s Grandmaster Chime produced in stainless steel. It is the first Patek Philippe grande-sonnerie wristwatch ever added to the company’s current collection with two dials in rose gold and black ebony. The reversible case, adorned with a guilloched hobnail pattern, is notable for its patented reversing mechanism. It features 20 complications in its 47.7mm stainless steel case, including no fewer than 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. The caliber 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM mechanical movement also includes a strike work isolator indicator; second time zone with day/night indicator; day, date (on both dials), month, leap-year cycle by hands; a four-digit year display; 24-hour and minute sub dials; and a crown position indicator (R,A,H). The rose gold front dial has gold applied Breguet numerals, a calendar side in black ebony and 18k solid gold dial plates.

Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Scuba Tec Only

The vibrant blue hue adorns the dial, bezel, and rubber strap of the PatraviScubaTec Only Watch 2019. Water resistant up to 500 m (50 atm), this bold gentleman’s watch boasts a 44.6 mm case crafted from 18 k white gold. The silhouettes of eight manta rays – a nod to how many times the Only Watch auction has been held – grace the dial. A unidirectional rotating bezel in white gold and ceramic, the ample use of Super-LumiNovacoating, and a helium release valve flanking the case are the numerous safety features that make this special edition of the PatraviScubaTec a true diver’s instrument. The DLC-coated case back features an engraving acknowledging that the watch was part of the exclusive Only Watch auction. The timepiece is powered by a CFB 1950.1 caliber automatic movement with a power reserve of 38 hours. Its high level of precision has earned it official chronometer certification from the Swiss Chronometer Institute (COSC).

Watch 2019 Reference number: 00.10632.30.53.99; Movement: Automatic, CFB 1950.1 caliber, chronometer, diameter 26.2 mm, height 4.6 mm, 25 jewels, power reserve 38 hours; Functions: Date, hour, minute, seconds;  Case: 18 k white gold/DLC-coated titanium, bezel in 18 k white gold/ceramic, automatic helium release valve, screw-down crown, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides, water-resistant to 500 m (50 atm), diameter 44.6 mm, height 13.45 mm; Strap: Rubber, diving folding clasp in DLC-coated titanium. Estimated value:CHF 25,000.00 to CHF 30,000.00

F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue/AST

This newest timepiece–with its prototype movement, 44mm tantalum case made exclusively for this auction, and 18 functions and complications–meets his standard for one offs. It is fittingly one of the top lots in the sale. A blue chrome dial was developed exclusively for Only Watch. The front dial indicates hours, minutes and seconds; a second time zone; and the hours and minutes of sidereal time (a timekeeping system to locate celestial objects). There’s also sunrise and sunset, day and night, moonphase and power reserve indicators. The back of the dial has an annual calendar and equation of time indicator (the offset between mean time and solar time). All of the settings are controlled by the crown. The watch is powered by the exclusive prototype caliber 1619 mechanical movement in 18k rose gold with a double barrel, minute repeater, his distinct tourbillon with “Remontoird’égalité” (translated as “equal winder” designed to bring constant force to the escapement) that performs a complete rotation in 60 seconds, and dead-beat second. Estimate: $300,000 – $600,000.

Richard Mille RM 11-03 McLaren Prototype

This automatic flyback chronograph was created in close collaboration with McLaren engineers to meet the technical challenge of integrating in its curves (both aesthetic and functional) of the McLaren automobile. The case is made of Carbon TPT interlaced with Orange Quartz TPT, resulting in a resistant and light-weight housing that reflects McLaren’s colors. The Carbon TPT enhances the mechanical performance and provides resistance in harsh environments. Titanium pushers fitted to the Carbon TPT case echo the headlamp design of the McLaren 720S. Titanium inserts on the bezel recall the iconic McLaren F1’s air-intake snorkel and bearing the McLaren logo. The complex grade 5 titanium crown is shaped like a McLaren lightweight wheel. The McLaren Speedmark logo is incorporated into the rubber strap. The watch is powered by the automatic RMAC3 caliber, first launched in 2016, with a flyback chronograph. Powered by two barrels mounted in parallel and a balance wheel with variable inertia, the movement has a 55-hour power reserve. In addition to the timepiece, the buyer will receive from McLaren a tailor-made official driver’s racing overall, a “Pure McLaren Experience” driving day with test pilot Bruno Senna, and a private tour of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. Estimate: $220,000 – $250,000.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Open worked

The 18k pink gold octagonal middle case contrasts with the 18k white gold extra-thin bezel, lugs and caseback. The bezel, lugs and case are satin-brushed, beveled and polished—finishing techniques usually found on calibers. The caseback is engraved with “Unique Piece.” The watch is powered by the caliber 2948 mechanical tourbillon open worked movement. Its rhodium-toned openworked plate, finished with vertical traits-tirés, is enhanced by a pink gold-toned titanium tourbillon and barrel bridges with polished rhodium-toned angles. The movement is decorated in the same two-tone color of the case. The opaline silver-toned white gold inner bezel frames the open worked movement and accentuates the extra-thinness of the watch’s bezel. The long 18k pink gold hands add another subtle touch of color.Estimate: $190,000 – $240,000.

Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1 “Night Star”

This model has a 44mm sandblasted anthracite-ceramized titanium case. This treatment renders the metal four times more resistant than traditional titanium. A play on colors is at the heart of the design. It is the first piece by Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud to have hands and numerals equipped with Super-LumiNova. White luminescent material was chosen to contrast with the frosted black dial, which evoke stars in the night sky. Historically, stars were navigators’ reference points for their position on the oceans, thus recalling the heritage of the FB 1 collection, which is based on Ferdinand Berthoud’s work calculating longitude at sea. According to the manufacturer, white Super-LumiNova also serves as a ray of hope that inspires the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The black ceramic crown inlay matches the frosted black dial. The case back features three beveled sapphire semi-bridges that provide a view of the rhodium-plated caliber FB-T.FC-2 tourbillon movement with fusée-and-chain transmission and direct-drive seconds.Estimate: $170,000 – $200,000.

Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Sapphire Orlinski

Hublot has created a unique piece in the charity’s colors, with signature edges, bevels and facets of the artist Richard Orlinski sculpted into the sapphire—one of the most difficult materials to machine. It’s signed in sapphire as a “Unique Piece.” The white gold bezel, set with 54 baguette-cut topazes, reflects the facets of the 45 mm case. Entirely transparent, it reveals an open worked architecture—a second nod to the work of the French sculptor—showcasing the gears, tourbillon cage and power reserve. The stylized skeleton tourbillon HUB6021 movement merges into the transparent, rubber strap in the colors of Only Watch. It will be delivered in a sapphire gift box, supported by the famous “Wild Kong” by Orlinski. The owner will have the opportunity to meet with Orlinski at his art gallery in Paris. Estimate: $150,000 – $180,000.

De Bethune and Urwerk Moon Satellite

One of only two collaborations for Only Watch, these two independent manufacturers created a timepiece that challenges established norms by fusing their distinct designs and functions with floating lugs and the vibrancy of blued titanium, the result of natural thermal oxidation by De Bethune. Under the hood and curved sapphire crystal is the one-off URDB01 caliber jointly developed for this special auction. The crown at 12 o’clock, spherical moon phase and Urwerk’s signature time indication with its satellite window in an arc evokes the sun’s curvature. Estimate: $120,000 – $150,000.

Christophe Claret Maestro Corail

The 42 mm black PVD-treated titanium case houses the coral snake motif of the dial, which is visible on both sides of the watch. The patented large date display at 5 o’clock is composed of two cones—one for the tens on the upper part and a second cone for the units. It performs a semi-instantaneous jump between midnight and 20 past midnight. The Maestro’s characteristic “Memo” function appears between 3 and 4 o’clock. Its cone shape is adorned with an orange or blue sapphire serving to remind the wearer of a commitment. It is powered by the DMC16 mechanical movement with a seven day power reserve.Estimate: $86,000 – $106,000. 


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