The Only Watch biennial charity auction has one intent: to raise funds for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) research by auctioning one-off timepieces.
It was created by Luc Pettavino, president of the Monaco-based Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, and is held under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco.
And now, looks like the time has come again for another line-up of unique watches from participating brands for the highly-awaited 10th edition of the event, set to take place in Geneva on Nov 5.
This year’s event will see some 62 lots go under the hammer of renowned auction house, Christie’s.
The unique timepieces are from more than 70 brands, including 16 collaborations.
Here, we are showcasing some of the standouts among the selection of highly creative, one-of-a-kind timepieces put forward by leading watch brands, which includes both big name players and niche independents alike, set to be sold to the highest bidders at this year’s edition of Only Watch.
BR 03 Cyber Rainbow
– Bell & Ross
One glance at the BR 03 Cyber Rainbow reveals the meticulous craftsmanship that goes into its creation.
The watch features a full 3D skeleton movement and an oscillating weight, showcasing the brand’s technical expertise.
The DLC micro-blasted metal bridges, adorned with varnish-filled pockets, and the micro-blasted metal hands enhanced with white SLN (Super-LumiNova) further exemplify the attention to detail.
Bell & Ross’ latest creation is equipped with a specially developed BR-CAL.383 calibre, boasting a self-winding system that provides a reliable power reserve of 48 hours.
The dial is designed to highlight the movement and coloured bridges, creating a sense of lightness and sophistication.
Meanwhile, its black DLC titanium case is a standout feature of the watch, adorned with coloured varnished pieces meticulously applied using a specialised process.
To complement the case, the rubber strap has been varnished with a soft and coloured material, resulting in an eye-catching mosaic pattern.
Apparently, the idea behind this particularly unique timepiece came about when an artist friend of watchmaker Jean-Claude Biver told him:
“Make me a minute repeater with no hands, no indexes.
I want time to be mine”.
Thus, the result is the Catharsis – the Swiss luxury brand’s singular interpretation of the minute repeater carillon tourbillon, with no visible display of time.
Made of titanium, the one-of-a-kind piece combines unusual handicraft with unique techniques for invisible gem-setting, stone marquetry and guilloché (a decorative technique where precise, intricate and repetitive patterns are engraved).
Dressed in a 42mm case in grade 5 titanium, Catharsis’ lack of any hands or indicators on the dial means a minute repeater mechanism is the device which allows the wearer to just listen for the audible indication!
The two-part dial, on the other hand, evokes the starry sky on the upper side and the ocean on the lower half.
MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon
Here, Hublot also pays homage to the philanthropic values of Only Watch with the watch’s central tourbillon adorned with a design resembling a child’s drawing of a daisy.
The latter serves as a metaphorical representation of haute horlogerie’s resurgence over the past few decades.
Meanwhile, renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s vision aligns seamlessly with the brand’s innovative approach in this, as their collaboration takes uniqueness to a whole new level.
With only one piece ever created, this timepiece stands as a true testament to its exclusivity!
At Murakami’s request, Hublot incorporated a central tourbillon into the MP-15 and this appears suspended in mid-air, with two hands passing beneath its cage to indicate the hours and minutes.
Luminescent indices, inspired by the colours of the 2023 edition of Hublot for Only Watch, accompany the hands.
The watch boasts a manual movement with two barrels, providing an impressive 150-hour power reserve.
Through the sapphire case back, admirers can marvel at the beautifully mounted barrels.
Rolling Stones Automaton
– Jaquet Droz
Jaquet Droz distils all the mad colours of the 1960s into this watch which the brand made specially for the auction.
Its dial base actually spins around like a record while the hand-decorated musical instruments, from Ronnie Wood’s Fender Strat to the drums of the late great Charlie Watts, stay sat above.
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.
The Stones’ mouth moves around too, while the hi-fi stylus/ tonearm sticking out from under the colourful dial represents the watch’s power reserve. Also, the mouth glows in the dark, because why not?
Inside the 43mm, 18k white gold case is the self-winding 2653AT2 calibre.
And while Jaquet Droz may be an old name in the watchmaking game, its movements are state of the art and have silicone components as well as all the other modern accoutrements of a modern watch.
Freak S Only Watch Edition
– Ulysse Nardin
This definitely looks like a real marvel, almost like a spaceship on one’s wrist! It’s based on the Freak S from last year, with an updated rainbow colourway.
But rest assured that it’s not quite as bright as some of the other watches out there and looks more like a muted rainbow reflected on a surface, rather than one that leads to a leprechaun’s pot of gold!
Of course, the watch operates with a carousel system – which means that the calibre itself rotates within the case. This alone would qualify it as an insane bit of horology by itself, really!
On top of that, this unique Freak S version has double oscillators that look like futuristic engines, giving the entire piece the aesthetic of a spaceship hurtling through the void.
A very colourful spaceship in a very colourful void, that is!
Looks like Swiss watch manufacture Urwerk has joined forces with Dalibor Farny – the talented maker of retro-futuristic Nixie tube displays (a cathode display that show numerals or other information via a glow discharge) – to create this truly unique timepiece that faintly resembles a lightsabre from the Star Wars film franchise!
Powered by a Urwerk concept calibre, the timepiece not only displays the hours, minutes and seconds, but also showcases the distance of the Earth’s rotation, which is indicated in kilometres.
It’s important to note that the watch isn’t officially affiliated with the movie franchise or Disney, though this isn’t the first time Urwerk has been associated with the production house.
Some may recall the previous Urwerk UR-110RG that was worn by Tony Stark in the film Spiderman: Homecoming and personally selected by actor Robert Downey Jr himself!
Tribute to Philippe Stern
– Patek Philippe
Thierry Stern, president of Patek Philippe, has chosen to pay tribute to his father by creating an exclusive limited-edition wristwatch with his favourite grand complication, which will feature an entirely new movement.
This movement, designed and produced exclusively for this tribute watch, will never be used again.
The first timepiece of this 30-piece limited edition, produced in a unique Only Watch design version, will be offered to the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies for its fundraising auction to benefit research on muscular dystrophy and genetic diseases.
The tribute is on the occasion of the 85th birthday of Patek Philippe honorary president Philippe Stern in November.
“This is a way of thanking him for everything he taught me and all the passion for excellence that he deployed in favor of Patek Philippe,” says Thierry. Patek Philippe is thus honoring the exceptional career of Philippe Stern, who contributed to the renewal of fine watchmaking, while also supporting a cause that is dear to the Stern family.
Patek Philippe has been pursuing traditional Genevan watchmaking artistry without interruption since 1839.
The manufacture benefits from full creative freedom, which allows it to design, develop and craft watches that connoisseurs consider to be the world’s finest – as pledged by its founders Antoine Norbert de Patek and Adrien Philippe.
Patek Philippe also nurtures a tradition of innovation that has been crowned by over 100 patents.