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The world's most iconic watch makers offer up a variety of styles and innovative mechanisms.
By Megan Scott | July 6 2021
For Only Watch 2021, 54 world-renowned brands have put forth unique pieces to raise money for research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Thanks to the efforts of donors, partners and, of course, the watchmakers themselves, almost $83m has already been raised for this necessary and vital cause.
“The acts of altruism, compassion and empathy seem to have accelerated since the pandemic hit,” says Only Watch founder, Luc Pettavino. “They are a reason for optimism. They speak to humanity’s enduring emotional intelligence, have the power to positively shape our lives, and can be applied in a sustainable way to help each other and the planet.”
As the ninth installment in the now-iconic charity auction, the spirit and generosity of the various parties involved is reflected in the quality and innovation of the pieces themselves. Many of the watches utilize one-of-a-kind mechanisms or highly rare materials that make them a worthy addition to any collection. With the sheer number of contributors and their collective expertise, it is undeniable that the Only Watch 2021 lineup is truly special. Here, we pick out some of our favorites.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the automatic Octa Calibre 1300, FP Journe has combined facets of different editions to come up with the unique Francis Ford Coppola model. The timepiece does not feature hands in the normal sense. Instead, a blue (human) hand displays the hours according to the middle finger’s position. The minutes are indicated at 12 o’clock with a rotating pointer. The fingers were inspired by a mechanical hand created by Ambroise Paré (1509-1590), the father of modern surgery. The watch has been almost nine years in the making with the original concept first discussed at a dinner between François-Paul Journe and Coppola in 2012. Journe explains: “He asked me if it could be possible to tell time with a hand in a watch. I replied that the idea was interesting and required thinking about it. But how to display 12 hours with five fingers? It was not an easy matter, and this complex challenge inspired and motivated me. Once I figured it out, Francis immediately sent the sketches for the finger positions. After more than two years, I could finally focus on “Fecit”. After seven years of development, I am proud to present the FFC prototype.”
Approx. $325,600-$434,100, onlywatch.com/f-p-journe
Specializing in skeleton watches since the company’s founding in the 1960s, Swiss watch manufacturer Armin Strom captures the imagination with the Gravity Equal Force timepiece. Technologically speaking, the automatic watch is the first of its kind, with absolute precision guaranteed by the constant force transmission that allows for consistent power delivery.
The Gravity Equal Force has several features designed to capture the eye, too. Touches of orange bring attention to the depth and detail of the transparent mechanics, with orange-painted steel hands and brass bridges.
Approx. $18,300-$27,100, onlywatch.com/armin-strom
[See also: Seven of the Best World Time Watches for 2021]
Known for its commitment to unique luxury jewelry and lifestyle brands, Bvlgari’s Octo Finissimo Perpetual Calendar Tantalum is truly special, in both its design and material. One of the rarest metals on earth, tantalum is surprisingly conducive to watch-wearing, as it is totally biocompatible and highly resistant to erosion and damage.
The blue dial echoes the naturally present tones in the metal, with a movement of 2.75 mm that drives both the hands and the extra calendar functions (a date and month display as well as a leap-year indicator). Its stunning design and innovative construction are emblematic of Bvlgari’s willingness to combine Italian style with Swiss watchmaking techniques.
Approx. $87,000-$130,000, onlywatch.com/bvlgari
Symbolizing a comfortable and colorful change of pace, the jeweled chameleon has been designed to accompany its owner through all of life’s journeys. Set with diamonds, multi-colored sapphires, tsavorites and a ruby to serve as its watchful eye, this Maison Boucheron has added another animal companion to its bestiary, which began at its Paris workshop in 1866.
While the Ajourée Masy le Caméléon jewelry watch is certainly a departure from the classic, Boucheron has undeniably managed to create a true objet d’art that also possesses a day-to-day function and purpose.
Approx. $22,000-$33,000, onlywatch.com/boucheron
Although Tag Heuer’s Carbon Monaco recalls its models from the 1960s in its carbon casing, the skeletonized concave dial reinforces the company’s commitment to innovative techniques that belong firmly in the future.
Painted in gradient shades and finished with a recognizable gratté, the orange touches on the handles contribute to an avant-garde design that still manages to appear timeless and classic. Even the bracelet is not all that meets the eye, as the metallic appearance belies a pressed handmade leather strap that will ensure maximum comfort and usability.
Approx. $54,000-$110,000, onlywatch.com/tag-heuer
With the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec Chronograph, Montblanc honors both the ninth anniversary of the Only Watch auction and the 200th anniversary of iconic French watchmaker’s inking chronograph. The unique timepiece will also be auctioned alongside a wooden replica of the original 19th century chronograph, a pairing that is sure to be any collector’s dream.
Encased in 18K yellow gold, the dial is enlivened by subtle orange touches and the Manufacture Monopusher Chronograph MB R200 is complemented by a subtle brown alligator bracelet with orange stitching.
Approx. $33,000-$49,000, onlywatch.com/montblanc
The subtly playful design of the dial is the focus point of Reservoir’s Kanister Palladium, inspired by the speedometer of the 1950s car model, the 356 Speedster. An iconic symbol of the breakneck speeds achieved by vehicle manufacturers in the mid-20th century, this Only Watch unique timepiece has a domed and anti-reflective sapphire crystal dial, with a screw-down crown and material water resistance.
With the Only Watch color scheme incorporated into the dial and bracelet, the theme of speed has not been forgotten in any part of the design, as the leather straps also owe their appearance and tactility to the car seats from the era in question.
Approx. $22,000-$33,000, onlywatch.com/reservoir-watch
Putting the charity cause of the charity at the forefront of its design, the Fabergé Dalliance “Choose Hope” watch “wishes on a star” with its ruby shooting stars and mother-of-pearl dial. Its color palette of silver, red and enamel recollects a crystal desk clock created by workmaster Henrik Wigström in 1910.
Presented in an 18K rose gold case and domed with sapphire crystal, the “Choose Hope” watch is still very much a product of the House of Fabergé, a jewelry firm that epitomizes luxury and opulence. This one-of-a-kind contribution would be a tasteful addition to any collection.
Approx. $27,000-$43,000, onlywatch.com/faberge
The product of a collaboration between two luxury watch manufacturers, H. Mosier & Cie and MB&F, the Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon showcases the very best that Swiss watchmaking has to offer. Forty millimeters in diameter and water-resistant, the most notable facet of its design is without a doubt the domed sapphire crystal. The 40° tilted hours & minutes dial is accented by a Vantablack coating, resulting in a three-dimensional tourbillon movement that is ultramodern and sleek.
Approx. $65,000-$87,000, onlywatch.com/h-moser-cie
The enchanting design of the Bovet 1822 Miss Audrey Sweet Fairy watch is reflected within its material production, as the dial has been created using pure sugar crystals to surround the fairy sat within. Painted with luminous Super-LumiNova, she can be admired when worn on the wrist, as a table clock or as a pendant timepiece with the help of the Amadeo convertible system.
Set with round diamonds, the Miss Audrey Sweet Fairy watch also has specially shaped hands that come together in the shape of a heart every five minutes.
Approx. $49,000-$76,000, onlywatch.com/bovet-1822
With its delicate placement of orange and red cells, the dial of the Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon is reminiscent of a Parisian stained-glass window. It has no metal backing, so one can freely examine the skeleton tourbillon that exemplifies the highly complex mechanisms favored by 18th century Swiss watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz.
The base is 18K white gold, and the bracelet is black alligator in order to bring the colors of the plique-à-jour enamel to the foreground.
Approx. $174,000-$220,000, onlywatch.com/jaquet-droz
[See also: Spring Hues: Blue and Green Watches for Men]
A slight departure from its wearable counterparts, the complicated desk clock Ref. 27001M-001 has been offered to the Only Watch auction courtesy of Patek Philippe. The Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer is famous in the field of haute horology, with eight of the 10 most expensive watches ever sold at auction being Patek Philippe models.
This clock in particular is unique. Based on an original work (which is currently housed in a museum) that was delivered to James Ward Packard in 1923, it is outfitted in sterling silver, vermeil decorative elements and distinctive American walnut inlays.
Approx. $434,000-$542,000, onlywatch.com/patek-philippe