As watch-industry followers are surely aware by now, this fall will mark the sixth edition of Only Watch, a charity auction of unique timepieces whose proceeds benefit the Monaco Association against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We’ve already shown you Tudor’s contribution to the biennial event; here are 10 more from 10 other participating watch brands.
Blancpain has created a new version of its Traditional Chinese Calendar, with a 45-mm-diameter rose-gold case and a black grand feu enamel dial. The watch, which contains a Blancpain manufacture movement, combines aspects of both the Gregorian calendar and Chinese calendar; the latter includes leap months, signs of the Zodiac, symbols for the five elements and 10 celestial stems, and the 12 Zodiac animals that represent a 60-year cycle that is central to Chinese culture (for more detail on this ultra-complicated calendar watch, click here). Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors are used to adjust all the indications. This unique piece features a sapphire crystal caseback with a view of the specially crafted winding rotor with its black champlevé finish and an “Only Watch” inscription.
From Breguet comes the first and only platinum-cased version of its Type XXI 3813 luxury pilots’ watch. Based on a model from the 1950s, the Breguet Type XXI 3813 is equipped with a flyback chronograph function that enables the user to re-set the stopwatch to zero and re-start it all in one move. The watch features an easy-to-read central chronograph minutes counter, a day-night indicator, subdials for small seconds and for the 12-hour chronograph counter, and a date aperture at 6 o’clock. The platinum case measures 42 mm in diameter and is outfitted with a bidirectional rotating bezel. The slate gray dial, crafted specially for this Only Watch model, has vintage-style Arabic hour numerals with luminescent treatment, and the watch is presented on an “aged” calfskin leather strap.
Chopard is offering a new model in its Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 collection, signed by brand ambassador and Grand Prix racing champion Mark Webber. The Chopard Superfast Chrono Porsche 919, the result of a collaboration between Chopard and the Porsche Motorsport team, sports a 45-mm case made of titanium and black DLC and is powered by a COSC-certified chronograph movement, Caliber 03.05, made in-house by Chopard. The watch is full of auto racing DNA: the stripes on the dial resemble those on the rear diffuser of a Porsche 919 Hybrid and the “919” in a red triangle at 9 o’clock is the same emblem used on the Porsche automobiles competing in the World Endurance Championship. The watch’s rubber strap is reminiscent of slick tire treads. (Click here for more info on the Chopard Superfast Porsche 919 Motorsport Chronograph and here to learn about other watches in the Chopard Superfast collection.)
For its contribution to this year’s Only Watch auction, Chronoswiss has produced a watch with a quarter-repeater and an intricately sculpted artistic dial. The “Ouroboros” for which the model is named is the mythological creature depicted on the solid white gold dial, a serpent-like entity devouring its own tail and symbolizing the eternal cycle of time. The three-dimensional Ouroboros figure has been painstakingly engraved from the gold and bears a striking coating of patina. It coils around the center of the dial, which has been embellished with côtes de Genève in galvanic anthracite. The Chronoswiss Ouroboros is not all about the dial, though; its signature complication is a quarter-repeater whose double-gong striking mechanism makes two distinct chimes: one hammer strikes a gong to ring out the hours, followed by two hammers striking two gongs to ring out the quarter-hours. The white-gold case has a sapphire exhibition back that offers a view of the in-house movement and its skeletonized, hand-guillochéd rotor.
Jaquet Droz is using on of its most emblematic models, the Petite Heure Minute, as the base for its Only Watch 2015 piece. It is the first in the collection to match a yellow-gold, 43-mm case with a deep red grand feu enamel dial that also showcases the Renaissance-era craft of paillonnée enameling. In this ancient ornamental technique, tiny pieces of gold leaf are applied one by one with extreme care before enameling is applied to obtain the desired color and translucent depth. Red is one of the most difficult colors to obtain with this method, and the combination of red with the yellow gold is nod to the colors of Monaco’s flag. Inside the watch is another first: a movement with a silicon hairspring, the first used in the Petite Heure Minute collection, which is renowned for its resistance to shocks, temperature and pressure variations, and magnetic fields. The sapphire caseback is engraved with “Unique Piece Only Watch 2015.”
The charity aspect of Only Watch inspired the standout feature of the unique Endeavour Perpetual Calendar by H. Moser & Cie. To acknowledge the young victims of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the company invited the children of its employees to hand-write the dates for the perpetual calendar. The fonts used in the big date display at 3 o’clock on the signature fume dial are based on the children’s handwritten numerals. This version of Moser’s elegantly simple perpetual calendar also features a red small seconds hand and a red inner lining on the hand-sewn black alligator strap. The 40.8-mm case is made of polished titanium with a black DLC finish. The movement, Moser’s Caliber HMC 341, boasts a seven-day power reserve and is fitted with the brand’s innovative Straumann Double Hairspring. (For more on Moser and its watches, read our profile of the brand.)
Taking part in Only Watch for the sixth consecutive time, Piaget offers up a one-of-a-kind version of its ultra-thin Piaget Altiplano 900P with red hour and minute hands. At just 3.65 mm thick, the Altiplano 900P holds the record for the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, a distinction it achieved by cleverly merging the manual-wind movement with elements of the case. (For more detail on how Piaget did it, click here for our report on the watch from its SIHH 2014 debut.) The case measures 38 mm in diameter and bears an “Only Watch 2015 – Unique Piece” engraving along the rim of the caseback.
British watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin has created his first Only Watch piece, called the Resilience “One Art,” this year. The watch is based on models from Speake-Marin’s J-Class collection and features several hallmarks of the independent brand, including the distinctive Piccadilly case (38 mm in diameter), a large fluted crown, and blued hour and minute hands. This unique model is characterized by a rose-gold seconds hand, a sapphire set into the winding crown and a personalized engraving on the case band.
The original Ulysse Nardin Stranger was a chiming watch, inspired by classical mechanical music boxes, that could be programmed to play the refrain of Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” on the hour or on demand. The unique version that the brand created for Only Watch 2015 substitutes Ol’ Blue Eyes’ classic tune for a more inspirational anthem, in line with the heroic struggle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” The watch is powered by UN’s manufacture Caliber 690, equipped with an escapement, anchor, and balance spring made of silicon, and has a 45-mm case made of blackened titanium. The anthracite dial has white Roman numerals, a small seconds subdial and date window at 6 o’clock, and at center stage the rotating music box disk and 10 cherry-red “blades” that chime the notes of the song. The caseback. engraved with “1/1” proclaims the watch’s uniqueness.
Vacheron Constantin wowed the crowds at SIHH 2014 with its skeletonized marvels, the Métiers d’Art Mecaniques Ajourées. For Only Watch 2015, the 260-year-old Swiss maison unveils a version with a red grand feu enamelled outer ring paying tribute to the flag of Monaco (previous models had black, gray, or blue rings). The inspiration for the Metiers d’Art Mecaniques Ajourees collection (“ajouree” is French for “openworked) came from the architectural design of 19th century European railroad stations — the Gothic arches and airy vaults of the Industrial Revolution, along with the distinctive railway wall clocks and their Roman numerals. The movement in these watches, Caliber 4400 SQ (“squellette”) is described by the company as “hand-sculpted,” featuring manual beveling, engraving, and straightening, fine interior angles and contrasting brushed and polished finishes. The watch bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva and features a tiny, openworked “Only Watch” plaque at 3 o’clock on the dial, in addition to the “2015” and “No. 1/1” engraved on the caseback.
The watches up for bid at the Only Watch 2015 auction (43 in total; keep watching WatchTime.com as we highlight others) will travel the world as an exhibition this autumn, making stops in Monaco, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, London, and finally Geneva, where the auction is set to take place on November 7. (To read which of the Only Watch models our colleagues at the Fratello Watches blog picked as their favorites, click here.)