Editor’s pick: Only Watch 2019
Tudor, Patek Philippe and Bell & Ross have created maverick timepieces for the famed Only Watch auction in Geneva
The biennial Only Watch auction, which will take place at Christie’s Geneva on 9 November, has a simple rubric: one unique watch from each brand taking part. It’s become a fixture in the watch world, partly because of the simplicity of the formula - everyone loves a pièce unique - and partly because it attracts both industry heavyweights such as Patek Philippe and independent brands like Urwerk. It helps too that Only Watch’s founder, Luc Pattavino, is such a convincing advocate for the medical research that the auction funds.
LV have always been prepared to add a little humour to what could be a quite portentous event, the Only Watch being a charity auction to raise funds for medical research. Where others look to show-off the highest horological flights of their watchmakers, Vuitton put a liberal sprinkling of diamonds and a very rock and roll enamel dial over theirs.
The notional retail price of Tudor’s stealth Black Bay Ceramic One is around the £4,000 but judging by the last Only Watch, the hammer price is likely to be 90 to 100 times that. The watch isn’t quite Tudor’s first foray into ceramic but it’s the first Black Bay to have a case made in the material as well as being the first to have a sapphire glass caseback to show off the movement.
The only pocket-watch in the auction, Kari Voutilainen’s TP1 is a collaboration by the master with his just-graduated daughter. It’s a masterpiece of control and precision: the colours glow without dominating, the ‘guilloché’ engraving is perfectly weighted and the vintage LeCoultre movement inside is superbly finished.
Patek’s approach is equally simple – produce one of their more complex watches in either steel or titanium. These attract the big money, the 2017 watch going for SFr.6.2million (out of an auction total of SFr.10.8million), for three reasons: these watches are otherwise only produced in precious metals, Patek don’t usually do pièce uniques and there’s no waiting list. This year it’s a steel, which you can expect to go for a multiple of the c. £2million a ’normal’ version would cost.
Urwerk / De Bethune
Almost certainly the star of the show, a collaboration between Urwerk and de Bethune, two of the most creative and adventurous watchmakers of the last century. The case and unique movement inside show the input of both the brand’s designers and watchmakers from the mirror-polished titanium case, floating lugs and curved crystal through to the miniature spherical Moonphase.
Bell & Ross
The one-off BR 05 in rose gold that Bell & Ross have produced for the auction gives a markedly different feel to the Paris-based brand’s new line. It’s already proved a hit for one of the most design-conscious of watch houses. §