Results are in from this year’s OnlyWatch auction. This September at the Hôtel hermitage in Monaco, thirty-three watch brands each presented a unique timepiece to go under the hammer in support of research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The event is especially attractive to big collectors as all of the pieces are part of a limited edition of…one. However, regular watch lovers could also join in as the price tags weren’t always sky high, and some brands presented a nice opportunity to get a unique piece for under $30,000. As expected by the more experienced connoisseurs, some of the watches went for a much higher price than the estimate. The total raised from the auction of the thirty-three pieces, as well as a set of fourteen vintage magnum champagne bottles, topped $6,000,000.
GP belongs to the category of high-end traditional brands, yet unlike some of them it’s a hardcore innovator. This year at Baselworld it had already surprised everyone with their new Constant Escapement, as well as the updated sports collection, with the new Hawk Chronograph, which even though it looks simple, is an instant stunner. The OnlyWatch unique version reflects the addition of red color to the dial and strap. Even though this may not have been the auction favorite, it came under the hammer at twice the estimated price – $43,000.
The Classic Fusion Tourbillon has proved to be a huge success among Hublot fans. What made the OnlyWatch model stand out is its bright red bezel, which almost looks as if it was painted. In fact, it is real red ceramic that Hublot developed for this unique piece alone, and that has never before been used in the production of watches. Going…going…gone, for a nice $135,000!
This year Maurice Lacroix did an outstanding job of innovation by presenting the Mystery Second watch. For the OnlyWatch auction they only changed the color scheme, but who cares when the watch is so good most would over- pay to get a unique edition of it, and on top of that before the original even gets out in the market! The main ‘thing’ of the timepiece is that the big second at 6 o’clock is actually floating above the dial, going in what at first seems a chaotic random direction. There’s actually a pattern, displaying linear seconds but it is made so well that every time you look at it there’s really a mystery hidden inside. Sold for a well-deserved $41,500 – twice the estimate!
It wasn’t very hard for Roger Dubuis to decide which piece to send to the auction, considering one of their biggest collections is called La Monégasque (citizen of Monaco). With the quality of the watch being assured by the Poinçon de Genève – the highest standard in watchmaking – they just perfected the already-established classic of a tourbillon model by adding a micro-rotor to the face of the watch. Sold for $94,000.
There has been a lot of buzz around the X-Trem-1, a very unusual yet still mechanical watch, created by watchmaking genius Christophe Claret. The time telling on it is quite simple as soon as you see it; both jumping hours (on the left) and minutes (on the right) are indicated by small metal balls, and move with the help of magnetic fields and mechanics blended together. As we had a chance to see the watch live, we also have an answer to the frequently raised question – the tubes are not made of glass and you can actually touch the metal indicators! The uniqueness of the watch is topped by a typical ‘Claret’ tourbillon at 6 o’clock and the customized Pinball colors that distinguish it from the usual X-Trem. Sold for $135,000.
Yohan Blake (in case you weren’t watching the Olympics last year) has won 2 silver and 1 gold sprinting medals – no doubt all thanks to the unique RM 038 he was wearing during the races. The watch is done in Jamaican colors (where Yohan is from) and still has the same condition as when it left the track – even the strap remains unchanged. So we’re not surprised that when it went from the track to the auction, it fetched $474,500.
‘A Day in Monaco’ is how the name of their unique piece translates in English. This beautiful ladies’ watch displays a diamond-covered bezel, mother-of-pearl dial and constantly rotating scenery of a day in Monaco, with silhouettes of women and girls enjoying a journey within their own tiny Monte Carlo universe. Elegant and classy, the piece went for $81,000.
This year Patek Philippe beat all recent records with the sale of the new 5004T reference for a killer price tag of almost $4 million. Obviously higher than the estimate of $400,00-$600,000 this poses a big question for many: ‘Why?’ A better question might be, ‘Why was the estimate so low?’ In the past years we’ve all learned that complicated Pateks can easily reach a million dollars at auction. Now imagine everyone’s favorite reference, the 5004, which features a perpetual calendar and a split second chronograph, which was discontinued, in a unique titanium version with a movement created just for the model…and you have yourself a winner!
The 1940 Lemania CH27 caliber designed by Albert Piguet made a return in Breguet’s unique piece for the auction this year. A nicely skeletonized and hand engraved movement makes this the perfect classy chronograph, in an 18K yellow gold casing, featuring all the essential elements of a traditional Breguet watch; open-tipped hands, Roman numerals and great decoration techniques. This sold for the estimated $160,000.
This year Chopard tried its best (and in my opinion succeeded) in getting close to the actual topic and reason behind OnlyWatch – the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy disease – by engraving DNA chromosomes into the front of the dial and back of the movement. That and the 9-day power reserve, along with the typical Chopard tourbillon, meant this piece raised $88,000.
De Bethune is one of those companies that have something of their own, starting from the casing to the dial and hands. The DB28 is considered to be the favorite model of many, and De Bethune definitely used that fact to choose their one-of-a-kind piece, and built on it. The Skybridge MC displays the sky as seen from Monaco on November 19, 1857, the date when Prince Charles III established the Monegasque (Saint Rainier’s) Feast Day, which today is maintained by the current sovereign, Prince Albert. Sold for the expected $128,000.
The usual DeWitt Twenty-8-Eight was stripped down especially for the OnlyWatch auction, with a set of baguette diamonds around the bezel and total size of about 3.7 carats. At 6 o’clock is the in-house manufactured tourbillon and at 9 o’clock we see the usual DeWitt ‘W’ symbol engraved into the skeleton movement. The timepiece on a lady looks just as good as on a man’s wrist, and even though the diameter is pretty big (43mm) it has an elegant look, perhaps due to the diamonds. The lucky owner got it for a very good price – $160,000.