Over the weekend, the ninth edition of the Only Watch charity auction took place. The biennial auction, which benefits research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was held for the first time at the Palexpo Geneva this year.
With Christie’s conducting the auction, the event raised CHF30 million (S$44.42 million) from the sale of 53 unique timepieces from 54 leading watch brands. This brings the total amount raised by the nine editions of Only Watch to over CHF100 million. In the latest edition, five timepieces smashed the CHF1 million mark. (Note that there is no additional buyer’s premium for this auction.) Here are the five priciest pieces.
01: Complicated desk clock by Patek Philippe — CHF9.5 million
The most expensive piece was not a wristwatch, but a complicated desk clock, Ref. 27001M-001. Housed in a sterling silver cabinet with vermeil decorative elements and American walnut inlays, the clock is inspired by one that Patek Philippe made for automobile magnate James Ward Packard in 1923. Powered by a new calibre, Ref. 27001M-001 features a perpetual calendar, moon phases, week-number display and 31-day power reserve indication; and has a precision rate of -1/+1 second a day. It measures 164.6 by 125 by 76.3mm.
02: FFC Blue by F.P. Journe x Francis Ford Coppola — CHF4.5 million
One of the most intriguing watches in the Only Watch 2021 catalogue, the FFC Blue features an automaton hand that indicates the hours with mobile fingers that appear or disappear instantaneously. (Three o’clock, for instance, is indicated by the three central fingers.) The 42mm case is made of tantalum, and is exclusively developed for Only Watch.
In the press notes for the FFC Blue, renowned watchmaker Francois-Paul Journe explains, “This watch was born in 2012 while having dinner at Francis Ford Coppola’s house in the Napa Valley. He asked me if it could be possible to tell time with a hand in a watch. I replied that the idea was interesting and required thinking about… Once I figured it out, Francis immediately sent the sketches for the finger positions. After seven years of development, I am proud to present the FFC prototype.”
03: Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Only Watch by Audemars Piguet — CHF3.1 million
Hewing the closest to the original Royal Oak designed by Gerald Genta in 1972, the Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin is a huge favourite of Audemars Piguet fans. The steel variant, 15202ST, is also apparently going to be discontinued next year, which could help to explain the jaw-dropping price for the Only Watch edition, which is “the last unique 15202 and the last unique piece powered by Calibre 2121”. The Petite Tapisserie dial also retains the codes of the original 5402 A series, including the typography of the signature and monogram, as well as the positioning of the word “Swiss” under the hour market at 6 o’clock.
The watch has a 39mm case and a bracelet made from sandblasted titanium. Its bezel is made from Bulk Metallic Glass (BMG), which is a first for AP. BMG refers to non-crystalline metallic alloys, and Panerai has used a variant called BMG-Tech. Here, the BMG used is a palladium-based alloy that, when cooled rapidly, has similar characteristics to glass, such as “amorphicity, transparency and high strength”, which makes it highly corrosion- and wear-resistant.
04: RM67-02 Charles Leclerc Prototype by Richard Mille — CHF2.1 million
Weighing just 32g thanks to its lightweight materials as well as an elasticised, seamless strap that Richard Mille simply calls a “comfort strap”, the RM67-02 is the lightest automatic watch by the brand. The Charles Leclerc prototype was designed to be like “a second skin” for the Formula One Scuderia Ferrari driver, and it helped to drive the development of subsequent RM67-02 models.
Housed in a case made of white and red Quartz TPT (composites exclusive to the brand), the extra-thin automatic movement CRMA7 features bridges and a mainplate machined from grade 5 titanium, and a rotor made of Carbon TPT and white gold. The openworked titanium dial is hand-painted in the colours of the flag of Monaco, where Leclerc is from.
05: Kind of Magic by De Bethune x Voutilainen — CHF1.3 million
“‘Kind of Magic‘ reflects the enchanting encounter between two watchmakers, Denis Flageollet and Kari Voutilainen, based on mutual respect, a common vision of watchmaking and a unique sense of independence,” say the press notes for this two-sided watch. Each side of this watch, housed in a 43.3mm case, bears the obvious signature of each of these two highly regarded names.
On the Voutilainen side, for instance, you’ll find his signature guilloche dial and outsize Breguet hands; while the De Bethune side features familiar elements such as the delta-shaped bridge and a chapter ring with transferred numerals. Both sides feature synchronised hands powered by the manual-winding OW21 movement with dead-beat seconds. It’s a collab that’s a lot bigger than the the sum of its parts, and its hammer price certainly reflects the buyer’s appreciation of that fact.