Only Watch 2021: Our Five Favorite Watches
It’s Only Watch Charity Auction time again! And we must say we couldn’t be more excited. On November 6, 2021, 54 unique timepieces will be auctioned by Christie’s in Geneva. These are our top five lots.
Since its inaugural edition in 2005, the Only Watch biennial auction, which donates all its proceeds to research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has become one of the most important dates on the horological social calendar – like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics. And like those events, Only Watch brings together folks from all over the world to celebrate the accomplishments of the watch world’s most exciting players.
At this year’s event, participating brands include legendary maisons, such as Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Bulgari, Jacob & Co, Ulysse Nardin, and Chopard, as well as many independent manufactures.
Needless to say, that’s a whole lotta lots. And while each piece is exceptional and worthy of your attention, we wanted to highlight our five favorite horological wonders from the 2021 edition of the Only Watch auction.
Tudor Black Bay GMT One
In the months leading up to auction day, these timepieces will be going on a world tour. Starting in September, it will kick off at the Monaco Yacht Show, then travel to Dubai, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, and, finally, Geneva. The purpose is to give fans the chance to examine these exclusive watches in the metal.
And if you have the chance to view the collection, you should! Because the attention to detail is what makes these models so exquisite in the first place.
Take, for example, the Tudor Black Bay GMT One. While many watches up for auction are almost cartoonishly complicated, Tudor is offering a reinterpretation of its popular Black Bay GMT. The twist is the heavily aged, gunmetal finish on the case and bracelet, along with an open caseback to show off the MT5652 Manufacture Calibre. Capable of keeping track of time in three time zones simultaneously, this movement is also certified as a Master Chronometer.
Tudor is doing so many interesting things with materials, but this is perhaps the prettiest expression of the brand’s knowledge yet.
F.P.Journe x Francis Ford Coppola FFC Blue
In all honesty, we can’t stop thinking about the F.P.Journe x Francis Ford Coppola FFC Blue with its blue automaton fingers to indicate the hours.
The backstory of this incredible timepiece is that the concept came after the famed independent watchmaker François Paul Journe visited the award-winning director’s house in 2012. Reportedly, Coppola asked Journe if it was possible to tell the time with a human hand. The question stuck in Journe’s head, and over the years, he collaborated with the filmmaker to make a mechanism that would use finger positions to indicate the hours.
The FFC Blue is the result. It features an automaton shaped like a human hand that indicates 12 hours using individual fingers capable of extending or retracting. While it looks nothing like anything F.P.Journe has ever produced, the FFC Blue is powered by a prototype movement housed in a case made of tantalum, which is the same grey-blue metal used in F.P.Journe Chronomètre Bleu. Plus, the complication has been married to the Octa Calibre 1300.3.
Girard-Perregaux Casquette Only Watch Edition
One of the parameters for brands participating in Only Watch is that timepieces are either created specifically for the auction or one-of-a-kind examples of an iconic model from the past. Another cool aspect of Only Watch is that collaboration is encouraged. In the case of the Girard-Perregaux Casquette Only Watch Edition, the brand has teamed up with Bamford Watch Department to reimagine its futuristic ‘70s LED driver’s watch in forged carbon and titanium.
Girard-Perregaux is one of the oldest Swiss watch manufactures. And one of the reasons the brand has managed to stay in business for 230 years is by respecting its heritage while embracing new technologies, silhouettes, and state-of-the-art materials. The use of the digital GP03980 caliber and the fascinating finishes on the forged carbon and titanium case perfectly captures this marriage of tradition and technology, reviving the Casquette for this moment in time.
Patek Philippe Complicated Desk Clock
If clocks make your heart tick-tock, then this complicated desk model is sure to delight. The Ref. 27001M-001 was inspired by a desk clock delivered to James Ward Packard in 1923 which can only be seen in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
This unique Only Watch piece has been kitted out with a new caliber 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE and features a perpetual calendar, moonphase, week-number display, and a power-reserve indication (31 days). Moreover, it is adjusted to a precision rate of -1/+1 second per day.
This Grande Complication sits in an exceptionally decorated, wedge-shaped sterling silver cabinet with vermeil decorative elements and American walnut inlays. Finally, a plaque proclaiming “The Only One” reminds you of its singular nature.
MB&F HM10 Panda Only Watch
Only Watch wouldn’t be Only Watch without a few super whimsical pieces, and our fifth favorite choice is the MB&F panda-dialed HM10, aptly named the HM10 Panda Only Watch.
Pandas are highly symbolic. Children love them for their cuteness, while they also represent the conservationist mission because of their rarity (they ain’t the WWF mascot for nothing). Additionally, they are a talisman for watch enthusiasts because they resemble certain two-toned chronograph dials.
So, when the folks at MB&F noticed that HM10’s rounded compact body also recalled a panda’s cuddly contours, they decided to coat its top section with black and white lacquer to mimic the animal’s coloring. But to accommodate the lacquer, the top section of the HM10’s titanium case had to be crafted in stainless steel.
It also has black ears made from titanium sitting on top of a sapphire crystal dome and a ceramic tail crafted from Grade 5 silicon nitride. Other panda-like functions include flexible “legs” that act as the bracelet and tiny teeth that nibble on miniature bamboo shoots. These teeth also serve as the power reserve indicator.