Every two years, the Only Watch charity auction takes place in Monaco to raise funds for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In 2019, the eighth edition continues to bring one-off watch collaborations to the auction block. Till date, Only Watch has raised CHF40 million, where 99 per cent of proceeds go directly into funding research projects.
Presided over by Christie’s, the auction will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva on 9thNovember. But the pieces will first participate in a world tour. Beginning in Monaco on 25thSeptember during the Monaco Yacht Show, they will then head on to Dubai, Paris, and London. New York and Tokyo are next. Then the watches make a two-day stop in Singapore (25thand 26thOctober) at The Hour Glass’s Malmaison boutique.
Then they continue on to Hong Kong, Taipei and finally Geneva for the auction.
Brands that typically do well include Patek Philippe, FP Journe, Tudor, Blancpain and Audemars Piguet. But because Only Watch is also the world’s largest biennial gathering of piece uniques, brands don’t waste the opportunity to flex a little. So surprises are always expected—and welcome.
These are Esquire Singapore's top 10 favourites of the year.
Patek Philippe Grand Masterchime Ref. 6300A-010 in stainless steel
The first grande sonnerie wristwatch ever made by Patek Philippe now comes in stainless steel. If that doesn’t stir your loins, you shouldn’t be reading this article. Every Patek Philippe watch in steel is news, much less something as amazing as Ref. 6300.
Design wise, it is perfectly on en pointe. Salmon pink on one side and black ebony on the other is a fantastic idea. No estimates have been published yet but we don't expect this piece to hammer for anything less than 8 million Swiss francs.
Montblanc 1858 Split Second Chronograph Only Watch 2019
Never before has Montblanc made a watch in this combination. A 44mm satin-finished Grade 2 titanium case, the heritage Minerva Calibre MB M16.31, and a stunning degradé dial made of natural blue agate.
We love the ombré effect; it’s so on-trend. But most of all we cannot get over how beautiful the movement is. Seriously. This is exactly why we keep saying how underrated Minerva movements are.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Only Watch 2019
Fresh from the inaugural Time To Move 2019, this vintage inspired dive watch is a throwback to the 1960s. That was a time when Blancpain supplied watches to various military naval units around the world. And then made some for civilian use. In fact, the name Barakuda comes from a German equipment supplier. This was how Blancpain sold watches to the Bundesmarine.
This special piece replaces the standard model’s bright red markings with light blue, the theme colour of Only Watch 2019.
Louis Vuitton Escale Spin Time Only Watch 2019
Easily one of the most eye-catching lots of the year. This exquisite piece has a dial inspired by tattoo art. It is made with Grand Feu champlevé enamel and miniature hand painted by none other than the queen of hand enamelling, Anita Porchet. That dial alone took Madam Porchet 200 hours of work.
Delivered in a custom Monogram canvas watch case that’s also hand-painted but probably not by the same artist. This diamond-paved watch also comes with three extra alligator straps.
Hermès Arceau L’heure de la Lune Only Watch 2019
A 2019 novelty, this unique complication expresses Hermès’s poetic approach to watchmaking. Indeed, there is nothing this French maison does that isn’t artistic. Here, it replaces aventurine with a beautiful meteorite dial. But that’s not all.
Look closely at the mother-of-pearl moon at 12 o’clock and you’ll see an image of Pegasus—a most cherished motif by the House. Designer Dimitri Rybaltchenko who created several Hermès carrés came up with the unique artwork.
Breguet Type 20 Only Watch 2019
Few tribute watches go beyond aesthetic features but this exquisite gentleman’s chronograph is much more than a stylistic homage. It channels the Type 20 chronographs the manufacture had quite famously made in the 1950s. The 38.3mm case and pear-shaped crown are consistent with the watches of that era.
Its bronze coloured dial is reminiscent of black dials aged by long exposure to the sun. Finally, the vintage 13-ligne Valjoux Calibre 235 inside is a direct descendent of the 14-ligne Valjoux 222 that were used back in the day.
Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporain Only Watch 2019
This independent watchmaker was the talk of the town when it won the Best Men’s Watch prize at the 2018 GPHG. For Only Watch, founder Rexhep Rexhepi has made a Chronomètre Contemporain with a very special dial.
Made of greyish-blue enamel, the entire surface area has been covered with a hammered finish also known as frosting. This gives the dial a grainy texture and a soft glow never-before realised on enamel.
FP Journe Astronomic Blue Only Watch 2019
Last year, FP Journe set a new world record as the most expensive timepiece made by an independent watchmaker. That watch, the Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante, sold for CHF1.15 million. This year, the French watchmaker presented a celestial complication packed with everything you could ever want in a timepiece.
It’s got two time zones, sidereal time, and the equation of time. It's got a minute repeater and a tourbillon. Plus the annual calendar, zodiacal calendar, sunset/sunrise, and more. Going by FP Journe’s continuous streak at Only Watch, there is absolutely no doubt this will be among the hottest lots of the auction.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One
Another record breaker, 2017’s Only Watch saw a Tudor Black Bay selling for CHF350,000. Even an experienced auctioneer such as Christie’s didn’t see that coming.For 2019, Tudor offers a full matte black ceramic Black Bay—the first of its kind.
Zenith El Primero A386 Only Watch 2019
Since it’s celebrating the 50thanniversary of the El Primero this year, Zenith’s entry is a glammed up El Primero A386 made in white gold. How do we distinguish it from the regular steel ones? Just look at the turquoise 30-minute counter.
This references the Only Watch theme colour, but more importantly, the watch comes with a lifetime warranty including service. This is not a drill, guys. It is literally the chance of a lifetime.
Bonus: MB&F X L’Epée Tom & T-Rex
It’s a table clock, not a watch, but we simply can’t conclude our best Only Watch 2019 list without the MB&F X L’Epée Tom & T-Rex. Tom is a little boy sculpture and he sits atop his formidable friend T-Rex in a poignant Bran-Hodor relationship (sort of).
Crafted from more than 200 pieces of palladium-plated brass, bronze and stainless steel, as well as hand-blown Murano glass, this is the most heartfelt and compelling tribute of all the pieces at Only Watch 2019.