Only Watch x Christies

Only Watch – It’s NOT Only Watches

The high-profile charity auction hails money-can't-buy experiences too
Sky Sit
August 21, 2019
Only Watch – It’s NOT Only Watches

A Multi-Million Dollar Patek Philippe Day. A Messi Meet & Greet. An unprecedented Zenith experience for the El Primero 50th anniversary…plus more. Anyone?

The renowned charity watch auction, Only Watch 2019, returns next month with a worldwide exhibition tour starting at the prestigious Monaco Yacht Show, under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II de Monaco. Jetting through 10 top cities across the globe are 50 unique timepieces specially created and donated to raise funds towards a charitable cause. Anyone on the exhibition trail will have a rare chance to see these one-offs in the flesh.

Official visit of Prince Albert II to the Monaco Yacht Show © F. Nebinger / Palais Princier

After that, the tour will culminate in a biennial sale, staged by Christie’s on 9th November in Geneva, Switzerland, where everything will be auctioned off, and some may never be seen again. Partakers can count themselves to be in royal company, as Prince Albert II himself has won a few bids over the years.

Only Watch is an extraordinary event in the horological calendar. Not simply is it the one single high profile charity event in the watch world, this initiative also unites the most respected names of the industry to volunteer and create a pure force for good.

Only Watch Founder Luc Pettavino / © Gian Marco Castelberg Photography

“There is no contract, no ego, no game. Be it a household name, or a newcomer, there is no rule to bind them but their willingness to demonstrate the spirit of Only Watch,” says Luc Pettavino, President of the Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies (AMM), and the locomotive of the event.

Pattevino continues, “Which is what makes it very strong and also very fragile. In the end, we have faith in the good. It works because it’s not complicated. The brands know to conduct [in a forthcoming and expert manner], and bring the right energy. No one makes demands.”

Such unity of good energy has raised over 40 million Swiss francs (or USD 40m) since 2005 for AMM, with 99% of proceeds going directly into the scientific and medical research of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease affecting 1 in 3,000 male births on the planet. Pettavino’s son, who was one of the afflicted and sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 21, was and still is the drive behind his dedication to the mission of finding a cure and raising funds for the research.

The official listings present 52 participating brands who share the values and support the compelling mission of Only Watch in this 8th Edition. In my count, there are in fact 53 – we will get to that further down. Being a strong advocate, I take pride to notice over two-thirds of the brands are independent watchmakers, accounting for 87% of all sales estimates (CHF/USD 5-6.6m).

There is no contract, no ego, no game. We have faith in the good. No one makes demands.

Only Watch is hoping to achieve double the estimates or more for the sales. It’s worth noting that Christie’s volunteers its involvement for the entire organisation – there is no buyers’ premium and no reserve on the watches sold. Beyond an array of one-of-a-kind watches, which are attracting all the spotlights, there are also once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be found in the auction lots of 7 brands. Some of them are literally unprecedented and deserve as much attention as the watches.

A Multi-Million Dollar Patek Philippe Day

There is no surprise that the independent royalty is responsible for nearly half of the total estimate. It’s always difficult to put a price on something priceless, so it will be interesting to see how much the experience will amplify the already eye-popping bids. In addition to the Grandmaster Chime reference 6300A-010 that has been specially created for Only Watch 2019, the first and only version of this timepiece ever produced in stainless steel, Patek Philippe will deliver the prize with an immersive experience. An unforgettable day will be organised for two privileged guests to visit the workshops, the museum and/or Salons, and to have a private lunch with President, Thierry Stern. Estimate CHF/USD 2,500,000 – 3,000,000

Jacob & Co. Messi Meet & Greet 

Bringing a football star into the mix is undoubtedly a clever move to raise the profile of Only Watch even higher or the brand’s participation for that matter. For its lot, Jacob & Co. has created a unique piece from the Messi limited edition collection with baguette-cut blue sapphires, and included a meet and greet for two guests with football legend, Lionel Messi. The winning bidder will enjoy photo and autograph opportunities and pose for an official portrait with Messi while both are wearing their Epic X Chronograph “Messi” watches. Estimate CHF/USD 70,000 – 100,000

Singer Reimagined – A Collaboration with GoS 

Singer Reimagined is an independent rising star, acclaimed for its 2018 GPHG award-winning Track1 chronograph that houses an ingenious mechanism, AgenGraphe. Unlike the classical chronographs that come with two sub-dials for time tracking, AgenGraphe is a horological breakthrough that places the chrono function in the centre of the watch to provide an intuitive way of viewing time.

The Track1 OnlyWatch Edition comes in an exclusive black Damascus steel case, crafted by another independent brand GoS, which has not been named on the official list. The forging of Damascus steel for use in high watchmaking is the signature of GoS. For the experience, Singer invites the final buyer into their exclusive universe with a visit to the brand’s facilities both in Geneva and L.A. Estimate CHF/USD 45,000 – 55,000

Zenith Unprecedented Watchmaking Experience

This one is not an independent brand, but the experience offered is truly once in a lifetime, so it’s worth every column inch to make a highlight. On top of the 50th anniversary El Primero A386 White Gold in a unique Only Watch execution, including a lifetime warranty & service, the buyer will be invited to visit the Monde étoile de Zenith and the famous grenier of its manufacture in Le Locle. Assuming you appreciate the historical significance, this is the attic where Charles Vermot hid the famous tools for the El Primero movement that was to revolutionise Zenith’s future.

The owner of the unique piece will also be one of only 50 guests at the splendid dinner finale in Geneva that will conclude the El Primero 50th anniversary “Le Grenier Club” world tour. Zenith will also throw in a VIP package for two including hotel accommodation and a range of exclusive experiences to prolong the magic of the iconic celebration. Given its estimate, I suspect this lot will be quite a bidding frenzy to watch. How much do you think it will fetch? Estimate CHF/USD 19,900 – 29,900

As Pettavino assures, “…this year’s auction promises to be, once again, record-breaking.” For the bystanders, the buzz of anticipating and spectating is also a means of contribution, as that inevitably spreads awareness.

In the coming months, the Fratello team and I will bring you more coverage as Only Watch embarks on the world tour from 25th September. Until then, you can learn more about the charitable cause, the research progress, and the auction listings on their official website.

Watch of the Week
FORTIS Official Cosmonauts Chronograph: Special Edition for AMADEE-18 Mars Mission
The Team of the Austrian Space Forum rely on FORTIS tool-watches in preparations of the first journey to Mars
Brand of the Month
Teaser Image
Genteel Handmade – Bespoke Watch Straps
Genteel Handmade’s mission is to craft unique leather watch straps & other leather goods, and to offer you the freedom to be different
Topic of the Week
Swiss Made Watches


Antiquorum: November 2019 Geneva Auctions Preview Sacha Davidoff picks a few auction highlights
Antiquorum: November 2019 Geneva Auctions Preview
Sacha Davidoff picks a few auction highlights


Sky Sit
About the author

Sky Sit

Sky is the founder of SKOLORR, the curated hub dedicated to the pedigreed independent watchmakers. SKOLORR is official partners with Farfetch and Quintessentially, handpicking fine watches from independent brands for tastemakers and coolhunters. Sky has operated at the heart of... read more

Watch reviews in your inbox.

Even when it’s not Speedy Tuesday.