Patek Philippe told WatchPro last week that it has no comment on the speculation about how the $100 million raised so far by Only Watch is being managed and spent on research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
It will have to show its hand soon.
And whether it commits to this year’s fundraising auction, due to take place in Geneva on November 5, is pivotal to whether the sale goes ahead as planned or gets delayed until 2024.
Many in the industry now believe a delay to next year is inevitable to give Monaco-based Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM), the charity in control of spending that $100 million on scientific research and medical progress to be properly audited.
Only Watch‘s founder, Luc Pettavino, is chairman of AMM.
All paths forward look difficult, but the entire project will get a massive boost if Patek Philippe shows its support in the coming few days.
Right now there are 62 lots going to auction at Christie’s Geneva next month.
61 of those auction lots are unique watches, but Patek Philippe‘s contribution has not yet been revealed.
Only Watch’s listing has a statement from Patek Philippe saying that its donation will be a tribute to Philippe Stern, the company’s honorary president, to mark his 85th birthday, and will have an entirely new movement featuring Mr Stern’s favourite grand complication.
Most think this will be some sort of chiming repeater watch, most likely a new Grandmaster Chime reference.
If Patek Philippe announces a watch of that stature this week, it will go a long way to rallying support for this year’s Only Watch auction, which is less than two weeks’ away.
After all, the last time it donated a Grandmaster Chime in steel, back in 2019, the watch set a new world record auction price when it sold for CHF 31 million; almost one third of all funds raised for Only Watch since 2005.
I have no inside knowledge of how this is going to play out, but I do believe Patek Philippe’s decision is crucial.
Its current president Thierry Stern has the power of judge, jury and executioner over the entire Only Watch project in his hands.
To effectively withdraw, as Audemars Piguet did last week, would drain support from the November 5 auction, making a delay almost inevitable.
And, whether Only Watch can come back from a delay will be down to how the audit of AMM and research organisations it funds is received.
Patek Philippe’s Only Watch Records
The world record-setting price of CHF 31 million achieved for Patek Philippe’s Grandmaster Chime in steel (above) at the 2019 Only Watch sale is not the only oversized contribution made by the venerable watchmaker.
It also holds the record for the second, third and fourth most expensive timepieces sold at the charity auction.
In 2015, a Patek Philippe Ref. 5016 Minute Repeater with Tourbillon and Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel sold for CHF 7.3 million.
Two years later, at the 7th Only Watch auction, a Ref. 5208 grand complication sold for CHF 6.2 million, and in 2019, the first and only titanium version of a Patek Philippe desk clock achieved CHF 9.5 million.
That is CHF 54 million out of a total of CHF 100 million raised by just four Patek Philippe timekeepers in the 18 years since Only Watch was founded.