All the highlights from the Only Watch 2019 auction

Presenting our pick of the unique timepieces on offer at this year’s charitable auction

Now in its eighth edition, the biannual Only Watch auction returns in 2019 to offer watch collectors the chance to own unique timepiece from some of the world’s finest horology brands. Founded by Luc Pettavino in 2005 to help support research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the auction has so far raised more than €35 million and accelerated treatments for the condition into crucial clinical trials on human patients.

The year’s auction will take place at Christie’s Geneva on November 9 and features 50 stellar lots which, it is hoped, will raise a combined sum in the tens of millions. Crucially, every watch on offer has been created as a unique piece and, with watches from some of the world’s most famed brands, this really is a collector’s paradise. Here are some of our favourites.

Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Tourbillon Openwork Only Watch

For Only Watch 2019 Audemars Piguet has offered up a unique edition from its code 11.59 collection, which was introduced at SIHH earlier this year. The two-tone 18k white and pink gold 41mm case houses an open worked dial showcasing the watch’s calibre 2948 tourbillon movement and is presented on a black alligator strap.

Estimate: €171,000-216,000

Bell & Ross BR05 Skeleton Gold Blue

Another timepiece that puts its movement front and centre, the skeletonised dial of the BR05 offsets a square rose gold case against the blue BR-CAL.322 automatic movement. Despite its high-end construction, however, this unique BR05 is as hardy as any of its mainline counterparts and features SuperLuminova coated indices and rubber strap.

Estimate: €18,000-23,000

Breguet Type 20 Only Watch 2019

Breguet Type 20 Only Watch 2019

A special edition of the new Type 20 collection introduced by Breguet in July 2019, the Type 20 Only Watch 2019 draws on the same vintage style cues from the 1950s Type XX range as its sister timepieces but is numbered and signed with a special inscription certifying it as a unique piece on its caseback. Powered by the Valjoux 234 movement derived directly from the Fifties’ Valjoux 222 calibre, it also boasts a bronze-coloured dial inspired by the brand’s earlier timepieces.

Estimate: €31,000-45,000

Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Sapphire Orlinski for Only Watch

Hublot has drawn on the talents of long-time collaborator, artist Richard Orlinski, for its Only Watch 2019 special edition. This stunning watch features a technically challenging faceted sapphire case and open worked dial and is presented in a special gift box held aloft by a sculpture named Wild Kong created by Orlinski. The victorious bidder will also be offered the opportunity to meet Orlinski as his gallery in Paris.

Estimate: €144,000-162,000

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel Chestnut

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Enamel Chestnut

The first moonphase watch to feature in our highlights reel, to create this unique piece Jaeger-LeCoultre tasked its Métiers Rare workshop with reinterpreting the design codes of its classic Master Ultra Thin range. The result is a deep chestnut guilloché enamel dial with moonphase, day, month and date subdials powered by a calibre 868A/2 automatic movement.

Estimate: €49,000-63,000

Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Only Watch

Inspired by Montblanc’s Minerva military monopusher watch from the 1930s, with its calibre MB M16.31 movement, titanium case and SuperLumiNova hands, the 1858 Split Seconds Chronograph is already an impressive watch. What makes the Only Watch edition particularly special, however, is its deeply hued blue dial created from natural semi-precious agate, to which the original’s spiral tachymeter, telemeter and chronograph subdials have been applied.

Estimate: €40,000-45,000

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime

All the highlights from the Only Watch 2019 auction

To most watch enthusiasts the Grandmaster Chime needs no introduction. Patek Philippe’s only grand sonnerie wristwatch is not only a triumph of technical watchmaking – the calibre 300 GS AL 36-750 QIS FUS IRM movement powers no fewer than 20 movements (hence the less than snappy name) – it also features a double-sided case.

On the busier side, the dial offers the major hands as well as a second timezone with day/night display, date, perpetual calendar, moonphase, 24-hour alarm, sonnerie, crown position and power reserve indicators. On the reverse, four subdials display the month, date/leap year, day and hours/minutes with a central year window. So what possible innovation has been made for Only Watch? Simple – this is the first and only Grandmaster Chime to be created in stainless steel.

Estimate: €2,000,000-2,700,000

Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic

All the highlights from the Only Watch 2019 auction

At just 4.3mm thick, the Piaget Altiplano is one of the thinnest wristwatches in the world. Building a watch this slim necessitated the creation of the highly complicated 910P movement – whose beautiful jewelled design takes centre stage on the Altiplano’s semi-skeletonised dial. For Only Watch 2019, Piaget has reworked this popular design in a unique rose gold and navy colourway, engraved on the caseback with the legend ‘Only Watch Unique Piece 2019’.

Estimate: €27,000-45,000

Richard Mille RM 11-03 Automatic Flyback Chronograph McLaren

When Richard Mille and McLaren unveiled their first jointly commissioned timepiece, the RM 11-03, at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show it was hailed as another in Richard Mille’s long line of covetable and collectible limited editions. However, eagle-eyed readers will notice that the carbon-cased watch in the picture above varies ever so slightly from the one that went on sale. That’s because, for Only Watch 2019, Richard Mille is offering collectors the chance to buy a piece of matchmaking history in the prototype of the RM 11-03.

The winning bidder will also receive a custom McLaren driver’s overall, Pure McLaren Experience driving day with Bruno Senna and a private tour of the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.

Estimate: €198,000-225,000

Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One

Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One

We’ve waxed lyrical about the virtues of the Tudor Black Bay before so suffice to say, if you’re looking for an everyday mechanical wristwatch that is as elegant as it is practical, there are few better options. For Only Watch 2019 Tudor has created its signature diving watch in a 41mm matte black ceramic case powered by a calibre MT5602 movement and finished with a crystal caseback and subtly contrasting hands and indices.

Estimate: €4,000-5,000

Zenith El Primero A386 Only Watch

Zenith El Primero A386 Only Watch

Even if you’ve only dipped a toe into the world of fine watchmaking it’s likely you’ve heard of the Zenith El Primero. Introduced in 1969 as the first wristwatch to offer short time measurement accurate to the nearest tenth of a second, it has been a mainstay of the Zenith range ever since. Created with a 38mm white gold case, the Only Watch 2019 edition features the usual light grey and anthracite counters accompanied by a special subdial in the turquoise of the Only Watch 2019 logo, complemented by a black alligator strap with turquoise stitching.

The victorious bidder will also win an array of immersive watchmaking experiences including a visit to the Monde étoile de Zenith, a lifetime warranty and two VIP invitations to the closing gala of the El Primero 50th anniversary Le Grenier Club tour in Geneva.

Estimate: €18,000-27,000

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Further Reading