After Much Controversy And Confusion Only Watch Auction Set For 10th May 2024 In Geneva

THM Desk
9 May 2024 |
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A bevy of beautiful watches will go under the hammer at the 10th Edition of the Only Watch Auction held on 10th May 2024. Only Watch was founded in 2005 by Luc Pettavino, former founder of the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM), in Geneva with the aim of raising funds, through the sale of watches, for research related to Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This disease unfortunately affected Luc Pettavino’s own son, Paul, who passed away in 2016 at the very young age of 21. Since the first edition, accompanied by the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, the watch industry has wholeheartedly supported the initiative, which has become a not-to-be-missed biennial gathering for both collectors and manufacturers alike. 

Controversial Opinions

In 2023, the Only Watch auction was to be held on 5th November as per schedule. Ahead of this event, the 62 lots offered by watchmaking bigwigs for the auction had already been unveiled and the stage was set. However, in the second week of October 2023, strong doubts were exposed about the management of the financial resources raised by Only Watch during the charity auctions. Initially, the doubts were brought up by Jose “Perezcope” Pereztroika and a collector known on Instagram by the nickname Santa Laura. The most prominent accusation is that of non-transparency regarding the use of funds, the choice of a tax haven such as Monaco as the association’s registered office, and finally the absence of an independent auditor in the past years to check that the use of funds was appropriate. 

Amid this controversy, conjecture and confusion Audemars Piguet on October 17 announced that it was withdrawing its watch, thereby canceling its participation in the Only Watch auction, without providing further explanation. This triggered a domino effect as the credibility of the auction house was called into question. In this climate of high tension and controversy, the official communiqué then intervened on October 23 in which the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) decided to postpone the event originally scheduled for November 5. 

Our View

At The Hour Markers, we support the philanthropic efforts made by AMM over the years and applaud their dedication to making a difference in the lives of patients affected by DMD. The recent controversy has raised questions on the auction’s credibility, however the fact that AMM took this matter seriously and subsequently cancelled the auction just a few days before the event, reiterates the Association’s commitment to best practices and transparency to not only participating watchmakers, but also collectors, buyers, donors, media houses and other stakeholders. 

On May 10th the Only Watch auction will once again take place in Geneva and watch enthusiasts can feast their eyes on the exceptional lots created especially for the event. We have handpicked 20 of the best timepieces showcased by the participating brands and broken down the unique features of each. Read on to know more!

Bovet 1822 Orbis Mundi

Exquisitely finished, the Orbis Mundi, “the world” in Latin, stands out for its ease of use world timer and emblematic Fleurier case, a true symbol of two centuries of watchmaking excellence. The ergonomic 42mm 18K red gold case provides optimal comfort thanks to its slim profile and its iconic crown and Bovet bow at 12 o’clock. The dial of the Orbis Mundi is guilloché, covered with seven layers of vibrant magenta lacquer. On the world time dial, Monaco, where Only Watch is based, replaces the Geneva time zone, and this is in magenta as well, helping it to stand out as a beacon to the world. 

Breguet Marine Hora Mundi 5555

An exclusive mechanical complication with an instant-jump time-zone display. This technical feat is accomplished via the pusher and the crown. Having selected the first city’s time and date, the owner of the watch needs only to set the second city. The watch mechanism then calculates the time and date by means of a clever system of cams, hammers and an integrated differential. At that point, simply pressing the pusher is enough to travel from one end of the planet to the other, all without disturbing the accurate running of the watch. Another key feature of the Hora Mundi is the dial: this one offers a fascinating interpretation of the world on the wrist by a play on materials and superimposed plates which gives depth to the dial. 

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L: The Bovet 1822 Orbis Mundi, R: Breguet Marine Hora Mundi 5555

Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble

The legendary Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon is the 1st world record of a series of 9, established since 2014 with its 1.95mm thin movement. Reaching a milestone in the development of ultra thin watches since, the brand has produced a one-off and with no equivalent in the watchmaking world. This year, Bvlgari intends to etch the 10th Edition of Only Watch in stone for all time. This unique Octo Finissimo watch in marble is a true marvel of craftsmanship- the 40mm DLC treated titanium case and bracelet are covered with a Verde di Alpi marble. At 6 o'clock, the marble dial reveals the 1.95mm thin manual tourbillon in-house caliber BVL 268. 

Chanel Mademoiselle J12 La Pausa Only Watch

For the Only Watch auction, Chanel is offering a duo of Mademoiselle J12 La Pausa timepieces. Featuring the silhouette of Mademoiselle Chanel, with the self-winding Caliber 12.1 visible through a sapphire crystal caseback engraved “Pièce unique. Only Watch 2023. Mademoiselle J12”. Their unique design is the result of a perfect blend of savoir-faire and original creation. Icon of the House, the Mademoiselle Chanel silhouette has been printed on a sapphire glass plate and affixed onto the dial. A technique of excellence mastered by the Chanel Manufacture. 

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L: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillion Marble, R: Chanel Mademoiselle J12 La Pausa

Czapek Place Vendôme Complicité “Courage Every Second”

Xavier, CEO of Czapek wanted to create a unqiue double escapement combination with a differential at 12 o’clock. Joining hands with Bernhard Lederer, a friendship as well as a new watch was born-‘Complicité’. This open-worked one of a kind steel timepiece is finished with ‘Champlevé ’ enamel ring created in collaboration with Donzé Cadrans in the colour palette of Only Watch 10th Edition. “Courage Every Second” has been inscribed on the ‘réhaut ’ making this a true collector’s dream. 

FP Journe Chronomètre Furtif Bleu

Made completely out of Tantalum with an 18K rose gold movement, the Chronomètre Furtif is made exclusively for Only Watch and is making its debut at the Auction. It takes its name from the difficulty of reading the time if the watch is not facing you, as the blue enamel dial reveals the frosted numerals only in the reflection of light, whereas, the moon phase and power reserve indications are integrated into the movement and visible only on the back. It is therefore a watch whose indications can be enjoyed only by its owner.

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L: Czapek Place Vendôme Complicité “Courage Every Second”, R: FP Journe Chronomètre Furtif Bleu

Furlan Marri Secular Perpetual Calendar 

For its first participation to Only Watch, the young independent watch brand Furlan Marri has teamed up with renowned watchmakers Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier to create an ultra simplified, modular secular perpetual calendar. A secular module is grafted onto this perpetual calendar, making it accurate over the next centuries, including leap and secular years. 

Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023

A magical take on Haute Horlogerie combining a playful display of time with Disney's Mickey Mouse and an ondemand chiming time. Mickey’s swiveling arm, pointing to the retrograde minutes along an arch marked 0 to 60 paired with a jumping hour complication, and the minute repeater chiming the precise hour are three key ingredients in the Gérald Genta brand’s DNA. 

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L: Furlan Marri Secular Perpetual Calendar , R: Gérald Genta Only Watch 2023

Hermès Arceau Le temps voyageur Only Watch

For the tenth edition of Only Watch, the Hermès Arceau watch is wearing the event's flagship colours: red, blue, green and yellow. Combined with the brand’s signature orange, these luminous shades adorn the cities disk in a light to dark gradient. The 41mm diameter case is enhanced by a matt black DLC-treated titanium bezel and an orange-yellow crystal seal and highlights the blue-lacquered mobile counter with luminescent hands and powdered Arabic numerals. A matt Mykonos blue alligator strap with cactus green lining accentuates the radiance of this one-of-a-kind timepiece. 

Konstantin Chaykin Joker Sandmann Only Watch 

With the Joker Sandmann Only Watch, Konstantin Chaykin focused on the idea of developing an open-worked dial that displays the hours, minutes and day of the week. The unique character of the Joker Sandmann is created by the combination of several elements: an avant-garde case made of genuine “Bulat” stainless steel, an anthropomorphic open-worked dial, a classic design of the movement with traditional gold-plated and frosted bridges and finely finished steel levers, flat springs and snail eccentric.

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L: Hermès Arceau Le temps voyageur Only Watch, R: Konstantin Chaykin Joker Sandmann Only Watch

Louis Moinet Art-Tech

A unique amalgamation of modern technology and traditional handcraft, the Louis Moinet Art-Tech is a fascinating timepiece. It features a microelectronic silicon wafer dial combined with a tourbillon. The silicon wafer makes for a very special design. Each angle of vision creates a new, lively, and changing visual experience, because the wafer reacts in different ways to light. At each movement, it comes to life with multicoloured reflections that play across complex lines of the etched microelectronic circuit. It features a hand-wound tourbillon with two barrel springs arranged in a “volte-face” position. This outstanding piece comes in a 40mm case of grade-5, polished and satinated titanium. 

Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata

A dial of remarkable craftsmanship, incorporating the techniques of microsculpture and grisaille enamel, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata 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. Within the iconic Tambour case beats the LV 525 calibre whose movement brings the dial to life through 4 animations, providing time on demand. The story of the dial continues on a hand-painted Louis Vuitton trunk, giving pride of place to this exceptional watch. 

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L: Louis Moinet Art-Tech, R: Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen CARBO 2

This one-of-a-kind timepiece joins the Maison’s series of “Zero Oxygen” and introduces a new collection based on this piece. Like all of Montblanc’s 0 Oxygen pieces, this unique watch features several benefits for explorers who need their equipment to work in harsh environments. Zero oxygen inside the case not only eliminates fogging, which can occur with drastic temperature changes at altitude, but also prevents oxidization. Without oxygen, all the components last longer and will provide unfaltering precision over time. 

Patek Philippe Grande and Petite Sonnerie Minute Repeater 

Featuring a Rare Handcrafts dial with hand-guilloched swirling pattern visible beneath a Grand Feu blue green enamel the dial is set with 12 baguette-cut diamond hour markers (0.45 ct) and features a transfer-printed “only one” inscription. The sapphire crystal case back bears the metallized inscription “Only Watch 2024”. This unique timepiece is fitted on a patinated blue green alligator leather strap with fold-over clasp. Comprising 703 parts, the manually wound caliber GS 36-750 PS IRM features a Grande and Petite Sonnerie and a Minute Repeater chiming on three classic gongs. Two patented innovations are linked to the striking mechanism and one to the jumping small seconds mechanism. 

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L: Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen CARBO 2, R: Patek Philippe Grande and Petite Sonnerie Minute Repeater

Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty

A creative brightly coloured spin on the Piaget Polo Skeleton arty edition, this timepiece is both artistically technical and coolly chic. Its design pays homage to the “Hexa Grace” artwork by Victor Vasarely, which is exhibited in Monaco. The watch beats to the rhythm of a coloured Manufacture calibre 1200S1, with green, blue and rose-gold coloured skeletonised bridges, all specifically designed for this unique piece. The ultra-thin movement, only 2.4mm thick, is housed within a rose-gold case measuring 42mm in diameter and only 6.5mm in thickness. This unique Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty is coupled with a blue interchangeable strap, also designed specifically for the occasion. 

Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique

Like the great wristwatch chronometers that place function above form, the Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique features an antimagnetic stainless steel case – one of the rare metal cases made by Jean-Pierre Hagmann’s workshop (JHP). With its symmetry and perfect finish, the Chronomètre Antimagnétique calibre is instantly recognisable as a Rexhep Rexhepi movement. The calibre is easily distinguished by its innovative structure. 

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L: Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty, R: Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique

Richard Mille Talisman Origine

Taking inspiration from the shamanic relic, Richard Mille created this mysterious “Talisman Origine” encapsulated the know-how of an old Swiss tribe. With its skeletonized architecture, its complexity and the precision of its finishing and assembly raised many questions as well as its case composed of rhodonite, titanium and gold, bearing mysterious engraved symbols. The asymmetry of the work seems to echo the two crowns, one probably dedicated to the sun, the other to the moon. The discovery of this piece opens up a new perspective on the origins of creativity. Did the invisible energies contained in the ‘Talisman Origine’ control the time, summon spirits, or hold the history of a highly developed Swiss civilization? What is certain is that it transcends the boundaries between the tangible world and the spiritual world. 

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds

TAG Heuer had a mandate to create the most spectacular reimagining of the Monaco Split Seconds the brand has ever created and present the first mechanical split seconds chronograph for the brand. With the visionary creativity of the maison’s movement director Carole Kasapi, as well as using the incredible resources of the company, including the unique TAG Heuer Institute, the brand has created a new timepiece inspired from the original model. Launched in 1969, but throughly updating the aesthetic utilising the avant-garde mindset of the maison today, the Spilt Seconds will be showcased at Only Watch. Contained in the texturised titanium and sapphire exterior is the brand-new TAG Heuer Calibre TH81-00 automatic split-seconds chronograph movement. 

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L: Richard Mille Talisman Origine, R: TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds

Zenith Chronomaster Sport Only Watch Set

Made for the 10th Edition of Only Watch, Zenith presents the unique Chronomaster Sport box set of 4 references, featuring yellow, green, blue and red ceramic bezels and unique colour-matched lacquered dials for the first time ever. The four watches are made in 41mm steel cases, and are equipped with the latest generation of the legendary automatic El Primero high-frequency column-wheel chronograph calibre, capable of measuring and displaying elapsed time to a precision of 1/10th of a second. The watches have a power reserve of 60 hours and a date indication at 4.30, as well as a stopsecond mechanism for precise setting. 

Baltic Experiments Premier Quantième Perpetuel

A second time participant of Only Watch, Baltic has developed its own highly legible Perpetual Calendar watch with a perfect balance. The outcome, Baltic Experiments Premier Quantième Perpetuel is a 37mm slim timepiece blending steel and titanium, featuring three sub-registers and a prominent pointer date. At the heart lies a 100% newly developed perpetual calendar run by the ultra-thin Vaucher 5401 micro-rotor movement. 

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L: Zenith Chronomaster Sport Only Watch Set, R: Baltic Experiments Premier Quantième Perpetuel