Since 2005, watchmakers have been steered towards using certain colours in the unique pieces they create for the Only Watch charity auction, but this year they have been told to go back through the archives of the past nine auctions and choose colours from any or all previous years.
In addition, green has been selected as a new hue, an emblem of hope, according to the organiser.
The result is the most vividly coloured line-up of 62 lots in the 2023 Only Watch auction, which will be run by Christie’s on November 5 in Geneva.
It is being held under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, with all proceeds put towards research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and other genetic diseases.
The 62 lots this year is a record number, and actually comprises the work of 73 watchmakers and brands, including 16 collaborations between manufacturers and/or artists.
There will be a world tour ahead of the November 5 auction in Geneva featuring the watches from Andersen Genève, Angelus X Château Angelus, Armin Strom, Artya, Atelier De Chronométrie, Audemars Piguet, Baltic, Barbier-Mueller, Bell & Ross, Biver, Blancpain, Boucheron, Bovet 1822, Breguet, Bulgari, Carl F. Bucherer, Chanel, Chopard, Czapek Genève, De Bethune, F.P.Journe, Ferdinand Berthoud, Frederique Constant X Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, Furlan Marri, Gérald Genta, Girard-Perregaux, Grönefeld, H. Moser X MB&F, Hermès, Hublot, Jacob & Co X Concepto Watch Factory, Jaquet Droz, Konstantin Chaykin, Krayon, L. Leroy, Laurent Ferrier, Lederer, Louis Moinet, Louis Vuitton, Ludovic Ballouard X Brittany Nicole Cox, Maurice Lacroix, Montblanc, Moritz Grossmann, Patek Philippe, Perrelet, Petermann Bédat X Auffret Paris, Piaget, Reservoir X Telos Watch, Ressence, Rexhep Rexhepi, Richard Mille, Singer Reimagined X Genus, Speake Marin, Sylvain Pinaud, TAG Heuer, Tiffany & Co., Trilobe, Tudor, Ulysse Nardin, Urwerk, Voutilainen and Zenith.
The world tour kicks off on September 6 in Los Angeles. Additional dates are yet to be announced.
Headliners at the 2023 Only Watch Auction
Watchmakers have allowed their creativity to run riot for this year’s Only Watch charity auction.
Unleashed from commercial concerns and brand guidelines, they have produced some truly startling designs and remarkable feats of engineering to animate their watches.
Here are a handful of the most innovative and playful.
PLACE VENDÔME COMPLICITÉ – COURAGE EVERY SECOND
Czapek’s donation is a unique open-worked reinterpretation of a double escapement watch, a combination initially created in 1830 that is still very rare in wristwatches.
Two independent escapements beat at their own pace, with any rate variations balanced by a differential, all beautifully featured on the dial side.
Estimate: CHF 80,000 – 100,000
Catharsis is a unique interpretation of the minute repeater carillon tourbillon with no visible display of time (other than an hour hand on the back of the watch). So, the only way to tell the time is to remove the watch and flip it over, or wait for its chimes. Made of titanium, the piece combines unusual handcrafts with a unique type of invisible gem-setting, stone marquetery and guilloché.
Estimate: CHF 500,000 – 700,000
1941 PRINCIPIA MANDALA
For the first time Bart and Tim decided to add a hinged hunter case back to one of their timepieces, the 1941 Principia. The dial of the watch showcases a vibrant and intricate mandala design.
A mandala is a symbol of the universe in its ideal form, it holds the power to transform a universe of suffering into one of joy.
Estimate: CHF 55,000 – 65,000
H. MOSER x MB&F
H. MOSER x MB&F STREAMLINER PANDAMONIUM
We do not yet have a picture of the finished piece from a collaboration between H. Moser and MB&F, but expect Max and Edouard to come up with something mind-bending.
What we know at this stage is that the watchmaking teams have “synchronised their beats to the same tempo” and invite the public to an artistic performance led by a miniature panda DJ in a Streamliner frame.
The Panda is a nod an MB&F HM10 created for a previous Only Watch auction.
Estimate: CHF 300,000 – 400,000
THE ROLLING STONES AUTOMATON – ONLY WATCH 2023
For its Rolling Stones Automaton, Jaquet Droz has designed an animation recalling children’s nightlights and spinning tops with colours and rotating discs showcasing the legendary band’s gear.
The Stones’ instruments, hand-crafted from blocks of gold, sit beneath the offset hours and minutes display on a disc coloured to resemble a vinyl LP. The scene is surrounded by a second disc that rotates when the pusher is activated, while the iconic Stones tongue rises, falls, and moves from left to right.
The power reserve is shown at nine o’clock by a cam made to look like the tonearm and stylus of a traditional record turntable. As it rotates, the brightly-coloured spiral creates an optical illusion just like a child’s spinning top, with each colour hand-painted to match the Only Watch 2023 palette. A second Rolling Stones tongue at the centre glows in the dark – recalling a child’s bedroom nightlight.
Estimate: CHF 250,000 – 300,000
STARGAZER ONLY WATCH 2023 PIÈCE UNIQUE
For the 2023 edition of Only Watch, Konstantin Chaykin focused on the idea of a multi-complication watch.
He combined the Joker design with an unprecedented number of complications.
The Stargazer features a total of 16 complications, including a tourbillon and 11 astronomical functions. This includes a symmetrical case shape, swinging H-shaped lugs, and a reversible strap with special fastening and a reversible buckle.
The Stargazer features two dials allowing for numerous indications without compromising legibility.
Some complications are unprecedented in the history of watchmaking: a discrete moonphase, sunrise and sunset azimuth indicators – these inventions are patent pending.
Estimate: CHF 150,000 – 220,000
TAMBOUR EINSTEIN AUTOMATA – ONLY WATCH 2023
Designed, developed, and manufactured at Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking workshop in Geneva, the Tambour Einstein Automata is the result of some of the most recognised horological and artisanal talents in the world today.
A dial of remarkable craftsmanship, incorporating the techniques of micro-sculpture and grisaille enamel, depicts the likeness of Albert Einstein in one of his most notorious photographic and mischievous portraits, sticking his tongue out in an unexpected moment of levity.
Estimate: CHF 340,000 – 440,000
FREAK S ONLY WATCH
Freak S Only Watch is a one and unique iteration of the Freak S launched in 2022. In order to celebrate the anniversary of Only Watch, the Ulysse Nardin manufacture and design studio have created a colorful interpretation of the UN-251 caliber based on the rainbow colour pallet.
Estimate: CHF 160,000 – 200,000
About the Only Watch auction’s Only Project work
Only Watch was launched in 2005 by Luc Pettavino in collaboration with the watch industry to advance research in the field of therapeutic solutions for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (a genetic disease that affects 1 boy in 3,500), following Paul’s (Luc’s son) diagnosis.
The Monaco-based charity benefiting from the Only Watch auctions, the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, has been active internationally since 2001 in accelerating research. Its actions, all regrouped under the name the “Only Project” are focused on:
- organizing key conversations (roundtables, collaborative and research programs) for researchers from around the world to share knowledge and accelerate breakthroughs;
- financially supporting dozens of research projects with the goal of reaching and refining therapeutic outcome for DMD.
Thanks to the generosity of watchmakers, collectors and partners, in recent years, the funds raised by Only Watch have allowed for a significant breakthrough in the quest for a cure. On top of grants and fellowships given out by the charity to researchers within public institutions (hospitals and universities), one of the main projects supported is a biotech operated by a consortium of parents and researchers that is currently launching a phase 1 clinical trial for a drug it has developed.
The technology aims to treat patients affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy and could be transposed and adapted for other genetic diseases. The first step in a whole new chapter of a 20+ year collaborative success story.