Every two years, the watch world gathers for a one of a kind auction to support Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and this year, we’ve taken a much closer look at what’s on offer. Here’s the Part 1 of the Watch Advice team’s Top 10!
Being in the watch world is a funny thing. We covert this little machine that runs on our wrist and tells the time, quite often spending up to tens of thousands of dollars on any given piece. People can be precious about their opinions and at times, the watch world can be snobby with people buying pieces purely to show off or as a status symbol. So it’s nice that every two years, some of the greatest brands in the world get together to show off their unique pieces at Christie’s auctions for the purpose of charity.
Whilst it’s not lost on us that many brands participate to show off their haute horology and technical skills to pave the way for future commercial pieces, the fact still remains that the proceeds of each lot go to a worthy cause: Supporting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – a disease affecting 1 in 3500 boys that progressively weakens all their muscles, including the heart, the loss of the ability to walk and global autonomy as they get older. This year, Only Watch is back for 2023 and with 62 Lots, we should see it raise a significant amount for the charity. 2021’s Only Watch raised CHF 30,000,000 (Just over AUD $50,000,000), so here’s hoping the watch world and collectors can eclipse that figure this year.
The Watch Advice team has looked over each and every Lot offered at this year’s Only Watch to come up with the ten most unique pieces from the brands. Our criteria were simple; pick the pieces that we felt were either totally unique or something out of the box for that brand. Some brands do small things like change a dial colour or use a different case material for a standard production watch, so we have overlooked these and gone for those pieces where the brands have pushed themselves. We’ve started at the start, by Lot Number, so without further ado, here are our first 5 top 10 watches…
Why We Love It
Baltic is known for its value proposition and makes good-looking, reliable, vintage-inspired watches with most of its pieces coming in under about AUD $2,000. So when we saw that Baltic has done a Perpetual Calendar and in purple no less, it stood out from the crowd!
At 37mm and only 9.8mm thick (add an extra 1mm or so for the domed crystal) it’s a good sized watch and under Baltic’s new fine watchmaking studio, Baltic Experiments, has an in house perpetual module on the Vaucher VMF 5401 Micro-rotor extra-slim movement that took 2 years to research and develop. Complete with 50hrs power reserve, moon phase accurate to 122 years and 30m water resistance, it’s a watch that we think is worthy of Only Watch and showcases Baltic doing some very cool things with their brand.
Full details: Only Watch – Baltic
LOT 9 – BELL & ROSS BR03 CYBER RAINBOW
Why We Love It
Bell & Ross are not known for their out there watches. Being a brand whose heritage is rooted in aviation, designing watches for purpose and legibility, their Only Watch entry this year took us by surprise. They have completely reinvented their BR03 series and given their Cyber Rainbow a fully skeletonised 3D dial and oscillating weight.
Bell & Ross have meticulously applied varnished pieces to the DLC titanium case, and to give the piece continuity, soft colour material to the rubber strap as well. This look is also on the rotor and they’ve then filled the pockets of the skeletonised dial with the same coloured varnish. The overall look is something you might see coming from Hublot, so it’s definitely worthy of Only Watch 2023.
Full Details: Only Watch – Bell & Ross
LOT 15 – BULGARI OCTO FINISSIMO TOURBILLON MARBLE
Why We Love It
Bulgari is known for doing some great watches and pushing the boundaries, especially with the Octo Finissimo range creating some of the world’s thinnest watches. But this one is made of Marble… A marble watch less than 7mm thick and with a Tourbillon just to top it off! The craftsmanship that has gone into this is incredible, and when you think the marble layer used is between 0.4mm and 0.6mm thin, you can start to see why we chose this.
They’ve layered Verde di Alpi green marble from the Alps between Italy and Switzerland on top of the DLC treated Titanium case and bracelet and offset this with stunning gold hands and indices. Outside of the crazy green aesthetic Bulgari has given this piece their BVL 268: The World’s thinnest manual movement with flying tourbillon and special ball bearing system. All in all, 800 hours of work, or just over 14 weeks working 8 hours a day/7 days a week went into this piece.
Full Details: Only Watch – Bulgari
LOT 19 – CZAPEK PLACE VENDÔME COMPLICITÉ – COURAGE EVERY SECOND
Why We Love It
The Czapek Place Vendome Complicite – Courage Every Second stood out to us due to the combination of the Only Watch colours blended with the dial complexity of the dual escapements and differential on display on the open worked dial. Whilst not technically majorly different from their current Place Vendome collection, what sets this part is the combination of elements from the Quai de Burges collection with the Place Vendome Collection.
Czapek deliver great works of art normally and this piece is no exception. The star is the dial with the Champlevé enamel ring created in collaboration with Donzé Cadrans and the circular satin-polished brass réhaut with Czapek’s Only Watch “Courage every second” signature framing the Czapek Calibre 8 on show, including the two sapphire glass bridges. Something tells us that it will fetch more the the CHF 80,000 – CHF 100,000 estimate.
Full Details: Only Watch – Czapek
LOT 23 – FREDERIQUE CONSTANT x CHRISTIAAN VAN DER KLAAUW TOURBILLON PLANETARIUM
Why We Love It
Frederique Constant isn’t a name you usually associate with high horology. Sitting in the lower-end luxury segment, Frederique Constant is, in its own words, “high-quality watches at a sensible price”. This is anything but! Frederique Constant has teamed up with Christiaan Van Der Klaauw to produce the world’s most miniature planetarium and added an Adventurine dial with a Tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
All this is housed in a respectable 42mm Platinum case, and the hands and indices are all diamond cut and hand finished to add to the quality. This piece is a combination of firsts for both brands and whilst typically reasonably priced, the estimated CHF 110,000 is anything but. However, for a 14mm thick Tourbillon with planetarium and day/date counter, maybe it is?!
LOT 29 – HERMES ARCEAU LE TEMPS VOYAGEUR
Why We Love It
Hermes has its roots in leather goods and fashion, but in recent years has started to really make strides in its watchmaking division. Whilst you wouldn’t say Hermes was cutting edge, some designs, like the H08, are more modern than others, but their Arceau collection is on the more subdued side. This is why when we saw their Only Watch entry, the Arceau le Temps Voyager, we were slightly taken back.
There’s a lot to like about this watch. Its use of the Only Watch colours is playful but makes sense to accentuate the cities on the world time. The asymmetry of the dial is reminiscent of A. Lange & Sohne or Glashutte Original, and the small offset time dial plays tribute to the Arceau collection with the italicised numerals. The ‘travelling time’ mechanism was also developed exclusively for Hermes, and the 41mm DLC coated case with the asymmetrical Platinum lugs just add to its uniqueness.
Full Details: Only Watch – Hermes
So there you have it. The first half of our top 10 picks for this year’s Only Watch. Let us know if you agree or disagree and what your picks were in the comments section below. And stay tuned for Part 2 of our Top 10 Picks For Only Watch next week.