Only Watch Charity Auction

[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]t’s no surprise that Patek Philippe‘s Reference 5208T was the single biggest fund raiser at last Saturday’s Only Watch biennial charity auction, accounting for over half of the total haul of 10.8 million Swiss franc (S$14.8 million). The money goes to research into a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – a genetic muscular disease that afflicts boys at birth.

Ref 5208T, which combines a chronograph, perpetual calendar and minute repeater, was tipped to draw huge bids not only because it’s a Patek creation but, valued at CHF900,000 to CHF1,100,000, it’s also the biggest item in the catalogue, boasting a total of 48 one-of-a-kind watches contributed by the likes of Patek and lesser known brands.

Ref 5208T was sold for CHF6.2 million, six times its estimated value. It’s clear why. A Patek Philippe unique piece is always one of the most desired timepieces. The triple complication is also crafted in a case of titanium, the best material for a minute repeater as it carries the sound better than many other materials. More importantly, Patek rarely uses titanium in its timepieces, which makes Ref5280T all the more rare.

Yet the watch failed to notch up a new record. Many watch fans had expected Ref 5208T, especially with the watch market’s recovery, to beat the record CHF7.3 million that Patek’s Ref 5016 fetched at the last auction in 2015.

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Independent watchmaker F P Journe‘s Chronographs Monopoussoir Rattrapante was the only other watch at this year’s Only auction to draw bids exceeding one million Swiss franc. The chronograph with split seconds, developed entirely new, sold for CHF1.15 million – over five times the lower of the watch’s estimate of CHF200,000-400,000.

Not far behind was Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Only Watch, which came under the hammer price of CHF800,000. The brand’s “first black ceramic perpetual calendar watch to feature a black ceramic caseback with sapphire display revealing a unique hard-finished black oscillating mass” was estimated to be worth CHF80,000-120,000.

There were several other timepieces which sold for over CHF100,000, but none came near the CHF250,000 mark: MB&F‘s Horological Machine N8 Only Watch (CHF210,000); Laurent Ferrer & Urwerk‘s Arpal One (CHF100,000); Hublot‘s Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt for Only Watch (CHF150,000); De Bethune’s DB1318-OW2017 Piece Unique (CHF100,000); and Breguet’s Classique Quantieme Perpetuel En Ligne (CHF110,000).

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The lowest bid was for Maurice Lacroix‘s Aikon Automatic Chronograph, at CHF5,500. Still, the hammer price for this sporty looking watch, a quartz icon of watchmaking in the 1990s but now implanted with a mechanical movement, is above its estimated value of CHF3,500-4,500.

Hosted by the Monaco Association Against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the Only Watch auction (including the 2017 auction) has, since its started in 2005, raised CHF40 million. Patek alone accounted for half of the money.

Story first appeared on The Business Times.