The 2017 edition of Only Watch is this weekend, and it’s definitely something worth getting excited about. The charity auction supports a great cause by selling piece-unique watches from a variety of brands, each of which creates a piece dedicated to the sale itself. There are usually a few big-ticket watches in the mix, some more of a surprise than others. This year’s catalog is no exception, but rather than give you an overview of the whole portfolio (which you can see here), I thought I’d call out a few of my favorites and why I think each is something special. Here we go.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Dial Appeal
It’s no secret that the ceramic Royal Oak is one of the biggest hits of the year. Here, AP updates the familiar black ceramic case and bracelet (oooo, that bracelet…) with a “skylight blue” Grande Tapisserie dial. It’s impossible for me to express just how eye-catching it is the colors vary from blue to purple, with occasional orange and red highlights seeming to pop out in certain light, accented further by the orange-tinted moon in the moonphase display at six o’clock. This one is a straight stunner. Pardon the scratch prevention tape covering the watch, Christie’s wouldn’t let me remove it for photos.
Lot 47 Estimate: $83,000 – 124,000
Chanel J12 – XS Bling Factor
I mean, come on. This is flat out cool. While the diamond baguette-set J12 on its own would be just fine, this watch comes paired with an ornate calfskin cuff embroidered with black glass beads by Maison Lesage and a pair of diamond strap keepers too. This is about as all-out a watch as I think I can get behind, but I personally find it immensely chic and charming.
Lot 39 Estimate: $34,000 – 48,000
F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante The Big Daddy
There might technically be a more complicated and arguably more desirable watch in this sale (don’t worry, it’s down below), but for a lot of collectors this might be not just the watch of Only Watch but the watch of the year overall. It’s F.P. Journe’s latest technical achievement, a monopusher, split-seconds chronograph, and it’s presented for the first time in a massive 44mm tantalum case with a blue dial (like the familiar bleu watches). This thing is flat-out bonkers and I have no doubts that it’s going to bring big money and that the bidding will be exciting to watch.
Lot 32 Estimate: $208,000 – 415,000
Hautlence Pinball, Ball-E Most Whimsical
A little humor never hurt anyone, and this “watch” isn’t even a watch at all. It’s a little toy for the wrist that looks like a smiling robot pinball machine. It plays almost like pachinko, with the pusher at the right sending little balls flying through the course that takes up the “dial.” In basically any other context, I’d find this sort of thing totally uninteresting, but in an auction like Only Watch it feels fitting. Plus, there’s something cool about seeing an object so playful made to as high a standard as this.
Lot 26 Estimate: $24,000 – 39,000
Herms Slim d’Herms L’Heure Impatiente A Sleek Upgrade
I was a big fan of this watch when it came out at Baselworld, but I like it even more in this new configuration. Instead of the rose gold case and silvered dial, we’ve got a blasted titanium case with a dark grey finish and a darker opaline dial to match, this time with Only Watch’s yellow accents. It’s a really slick take on the original idea, and the result is a watch with a charming, unique complication in a form that makes it wearable every day. I’d love to see something like this going into production.
Lot 25 Estimate: $36,000 – 57,000
Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt Pure Guts
This watch pulls zero punches. It has a full sapphire case with gold pushers and screws, a skeletonized dial, and a likeness of Usain Bolt doing his signature celebration pose in the running seconds sub-dial. It even has a gold foil strap. Sure, I would never in a million years wear a watch like this, but I tip my hat to Hublot for going all-out with this one and giving absolutely zero f*cks about what anyone might think.
Lot 24 Estimate: $52,000 – 83,000
Laurent Ferrier x Urwerk Craziest Collaboration
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming before it was announced earlier this year. Despite the wonky photo here (turns out auction house boardrooms make terrible photo studios), the result is downright awesome. The case’s swooping lines and the color treatments all feel very LF, while the time display is obviously good old-fashioned Urwerk. This one might be a little hard to wear, but I’d be willing to give it a shot for sure.
Lot 20 Estimate: $52,000 – 72,000
Patek Philippe Ref. 5208T The Titanium Giant
Anytime Patek Philippe creates something unique it’s going to get a lot of attention. Anytime that unique watch is made of titanium, you know bidding will be pandemonium. The 5208 is one of the more complicated watches that Patek makes today, combining a mon0pusher chronograph, minute repeater, and instantaneous perpetual calendar all in one automatic watch (yay for micro-rotors). At 42mm across and 15.11mm thick, the watch is hefty in precious metals, but in titanium it ends up being SUPER wearable. To me, this is the Journe’s only competition for best-in-show.
Lot 12 Estimate: $932,000 – $1,139,000
Ressence Type 1 Squared OW Close To Home
Does this look familiar? How about now?We teamed up with Ressence for this year’s Only Watch to present a new take on our Type 1H collaboration from earlier this year. The Type 1 Squared OW utilizes a similar skeletonized time display, but in a special squared-off case that has a sintered titanium case you can see this method emphasized by the deconstructed edges, adding a little grit to the piece. It’s an honor to be involved in this year’s auction and the resulting watch is outstanding (if I may say so myself).
Lot 9 Estimate: $21,000 – 25,000
Tudor Black Bay Bronze One The Weekend Warrior
At the last Only Watch sale, Tudor shocked everyone when the Black Bay One fetched over 100 times normal retail price for a Black Bay. Will Tudor do it again? Who knows. What I am sure of though is that this is one of the most wearable watches in this year’s sale. With a left-hand crown, a bronze case, and an awesome olive green bezel and dial pair, I could easily see myself sporting this off duty with an M65 jacket and some cuffed jeans.
Lot 6 Estimate: $4,600 – 5,700
Voutilainen 28S My Personal Favorite
While there might be bigger and more important lots in the sale, this is watch I’d most like to own. I’m a longtime fan of Kari Voutilainen’s and this watch combines the best of what he’s known for (an extremely precise movement that’s finished as well as anything being made today) with an unusual sandwich dial that has a matte black ground a bright white luminous numerals and markings. It’s an extremely modern-looking Voutilainen, even a little sporty. Every little detail is executed meticulously and it’s this thought-through attitude that makes the watch so outstanding. Anyone feel like buying a watch editor a little pre-holiday present? Anyone?
Lot 4 Estimate: $57,000 – 88,000
Only Watch will take place in Geneva on Saturday, November 11, at 2:30 PM local time. For more info, visit Only Watch online.