Only Watch is one of the world’s largest charity auctions supporting research into the rare Duchenne muscular dystrophy, with proceeds benefitting the Monaco Association against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The event takes place biennially, now offering up to 50 one-off luxury timepieces made by the finest manufacturers. Each year, the watches up for auction are more and more impressive. Since Only Watch launched back in 2005, they have raised over CHF40 million, continually breaking records at the auction block every season.
Patek Philippe at Only Watch
One of the earliest brands to get involved was Patek Philippe. Each season, they have contributed increasingly extraordinary designs that have continually drawn the greatest attention to the auction. These models have consistently commanded some of the highest prices at the event, often accounting for more than half the revenues. Beginning in 2009, the brand notched the honour of having the highest selling piece – the Reference 5106 Celestial with Date, which went for an amazing 535,000-euro price. At the 2011 auction, audiences were sceptical leading up to the event as to whether the brands modest 33.3mm stainless steel Reference 3939/A minute repeating tourbillon could garner the same attention. In fact, it sold for more than double the model from the previous auction, coming in at 1.4 million euro. In 2013, Patek continued to up the ante by auctioning a unique titanium Reference 5004. Once more, the watch sold for nearly double the brand’s previous record at 2,950,000 euros.
Breaking Records in 2015
At Only Watch 2015, Patek broke records yet again not only for the auction but also sales all time. That year, the model up for grabs was the discontinued Reference 5016A Grand Complication in stainless steel with a distinctive blue enamel dial.
At one time, the Ref. 5016 was the most complicated wristwatch produced by the brand, consisting of a whopping 506 parts. It boasts three impressive complications – a retrograde perpetual calendar with moon-phase display, tourbillon, and minute repeater – housed in a Calatrava-style case. The classic model remained in production for nearly two decades, from 1993 to 2011. However, what made the Ref. 5016 for Only Watch so special was the stainless steel construction, a rare choice for a Patek Philippe Grand Complication and the first and only version of the watch in this metal.
The one-of-a-kind Ref. 5016 ended up selling for an astonishing CHF 7.3 million, making it both the highest priced wristwatch sold at Only Watch and the highest price wristwatch of all time. (It is worth noting that two years later, Paul Newman’s own Paul Newman Daytona beat that record at Phillips, selling for $17.8 million)
Patek Philippe’s 2017 Offering
The Ref. 5016 was hard nay impossible for Patek to beat. In 2017, the brand auctioned another Grand Complication, the self-winding Reference 5208T, manufactured exclusively for Only Watch.
The model showcases three complications: an instantaneous perpetual calendar, monopusher chronograph, and minute repeater. It all comes in a titanium case, another incredibly rare metal choice for Patek Phillipe. In addition, it features a blue dial decorated with a hand-guilloched “Carbon” motif. Inside, the model houses the calibre R CH 27 PS QI movement. This particular movement boasts very special finissage techniques. These include black rhodiumed bridges and plate in addition to a hand-guilloched mini-rotor in platinum with the same decoration as the dial.
This is the first time the brand has reworked the movement for a special edition of a watch. You can see in all its glory through the display caseback. The Ref. 5208T ended up selling for 6.2 million Swiss Francs. Though it fell short of beating Patek’s contribution from the previous auction, it still fetched the highest price at Only Watch 2017.
Coming Up in 2019
Only Watch recently unveiled a majority of the models that will be up for auction at the 2019 event. Of course, each season, watch enthusiasts and prospective bidders eagerly anticipate which model Patek will submit. The brand never fails to impress. Their 2019 watch of choice is the Grandmaster Chime, Reference 6300A.
This model is the most complicated wristwatch in the brand’s current catalogue, boasting an astounding twenty complications. This includes five acoustic functions, two of which are patented global premieres: a date repeater that sounds the date on demand and an alarm that strikes at a programmed alarm time. The particular variation up for grabs features an incredibly unique design. For the first time since the model debuted in 2014 in celebration of the brand’s monumental 175thanniversary, the Grandmaster Chime features a non-precious metal: stainless steel. In addition, it showcases a double-face case with a guilloched hobnail pattern and a patented reversing mechanism.
On one side, there is a rose gold dial, and on other side, there is a black dial. All in all, it measures in at a hefty 47.7mm. The model is topped off with the inscription “The Only One,” on the subsidiary alarm time dial at the twelve-o’clock position. We, along with the rest of the watch community, wait with bated breath to see what this model will bring in for Only Watch this November.
Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Singapore
Running from the 28th of September until the 13th of October Patek Philippe will be hosting the Watch Art Grand Exhibition at the Sands Theatre (Marina Bay Sands). Taking place during the Singapore Bicentennial year, the Grand Exhibition underlines the importance of Singapore and Southeast Asia for Patek Philippe. These markets are not only significant when it comes to the numbers of collectors and enthusiasts based in the region, they also play a major role in building an appreciation for the work of fine mechanical watchmaking. For more information click here.