BREAKING: Only Watch 2023 Postponed Amidst Financial Transparency Allegations

by Matt Clymo

Only Watch, the charity auction that raises funds for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has been postponed until 2024 after several weeks of questions and controversy surrounding it’s financial transparency.

If you have been following Only Watch 2023 these past few weeks, you may have noticed there’s been a few small things pop up which may lead you to ask the question – “What’s going on with Only Watch?” First there was the questions being raised by one of the watch community’s largest collectors – Santa Laura who wanted more transparency around the financials of the organisation, specifically the funds and disbursements of the money raised. Then, perhaps more telling was a post on F.P Journe’s Instagram page that displayed a picture of a letter Francois-Paul Journe wrote in solidarity with Only Watch and it’s founder,  Luc Pettavino, which you can see below or view on their official page here.

Subsequently in recent days, Audemars Piquet withdrew its donated piece from the charity auction, and whilst there does not seem to be much commentary surrounding this, several media outlets have received statements attesting to the fact that they have indeed withdrawn from Only Watch 2023.

As Only Watch is registered in Monaco, the laws surrounding what they need to publicly disclose is different from many other countries, and as such, there’s been little transparency around the costs, overheads and funds disbursement from the nearly CHF 100M raised since its inception in 2005. However, based on our knowledge, until earlier this month, there’s been no reason to question the organisation that raises much needed funds for 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. And the stark reality is those that are diagnosed with the disease have a short life expectancy.

H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco with Luc Pettavino, Founder and Organiser of Only Watch

Today, Only Watch released a statement in a press release, as well as financial documents to help alleviate the criticism surrounding it, but also it seems that they’ll be having an independent auditor run through their books in order to provide the transparency that it seems many are now calling for. Excerpt below from Only Watch’s statement.

“The Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) has decided to postpone the 10th edition of the Only Watch (OW) auction to 2024, originally scheduled for 5 November 2023 in GenevaThe last two years have seen a major turning point in this epic journey towards therapy, with the validation by the French and European health authorities of a “first in human” clinical trial financed entirely by funds raised through OW, launched in June 2023 at the Garches hospital, in the Paris region.

“Answers were provided regarding the funding strategies chosen, the structures and projects supported, and the association’s accounts and budget. However, the time for certification, changes in governance and the imminent auction do not coincide. We cannot bring ourselves to cast doubt on the sincerity of the commitment of all the parties involved in this project, nor can we allow this wonderful story to be rewritten.

We want to continue to move forward in harmony with the community that has rallied around this unique and ambitious charitable and scientific project, and so we are today taking the decision to postpone the auction to 2024.

Only Watch 2021 raised over CHF 30,000,000 ($50M AUD) for DMD

Whilst there are very little details outside this and the financial statements Only Watch have released, it would seem that they are willing to set the record straight on this issue. And we in the watch community hope that this postponement until a yet to be released date in 2024 is just that, a postponement, not a cancelation. Whilst many charities now must operate as a business with staff wages, fixed overheads and the like, the result is often they are able to raise more money this way for the cause they support than they used to in the past with just volunteers and less structure – even it half the money raised goes to operating expenses.

Without having full transparency on how Only Watch operates, there is only speculation for now, and it would be remiss of us to pass judgment either way until more details emerge. However, it would be a shame for such an event to fall into disrepute and be cancelled. Not only for the watch world and the amazing work the brands do to showcase their artistry and skill, but most importantly for sufferers of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and their families, as in the end they are the reason for Only Watch’s existence.

“We will continue to move forward, providing even more information on the virtuous and extraordinary actions we have achieved thanks to this dynamic. The agility that characterizes us has enabled us to make exceptional progress. One of our greatest joys is knowing, as we write these lines, that a group of children and young adults have been included in a clinical trial made possible by the Only Watch funds. It’s tangible, concrete and gives hope of a cure. That’s what’s important.”

Luc Pettavino, founder of OW and Chairman of AMM: 

We will update this story with more details as they come to light.

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