Ahead of the biennial charity auction of unique luxury watches in Geneva, watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin discusses five of his favourite timepieces from the sale
On 11 November, the 7th edition of Only Watch, a biennial charity auction of unique luxury timepieces, takes place in Geneva. Organised by the Monaco Association against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, proceeds go to support research. Prices at Only Watch range from tens of thousands to several million euros, and since its launch in 2005, the sale has generated over €25 million to finance a range of scientific and medical research programmes.
This year, some 50 of the world’s top watchmakers have donated timepieces made specifically for Only Watch, or offer a one-off version of an iconic model from their collections.
Among the timepieces in this year’s sale is the Wostep desk watch, engraved with the names of the 16 alumni of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Graduates of the prestigious program have gone on to become master watchmakers and teachers, says horological expert Peter Speake-Marin, ’imparting their knowledge and expertise to the new generation.’
Offered from Montblanc is a one-of-a-kind 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter with a bronze case, vintage green dial and manufacture monopusher chronograph MB M16.29. But it is the movement, from a 1930s manufacturer called Minerva, that makes it truly special, says Speake-Marin. ‘All of the levers and components are beautifully sculpted and finished, and are very much representative of what watchmaking is about,’ the expert explains. It’s ‘not purely about function — it’s about beauty, art, aesthetics, and the execution of something sublimely designed.’
Equally novel is the timepiece by newcomer Barbier Mueller, which boasts ‘in excess of over 130 pieces of jasper.’ In homage to early pocket watches, a full hunter caseback opens to reveal the mechanics of the watch. ‘It’s a beautiful example of high-end watchmaking combined with original design,’ says Speake-Marin.
The oft-copied Urwerk brand was one of the very first companies to ‘break the rules’ and ‘illustrate time in a different way,’ says Speake-Marin. Featured in Only Watch 2017 is a unique collaboration between Urwerk and Laurent Ferrier with an ‘overall design aesthetic that has never been executed before.’
The Patek Philippe Reference 5208T-010, created for Only Watch 2017, features a blue dial adorned with a hand-guilloched carbon-fibre pattern. The calibre R CH 27 PS QI movement is visible through a sapphire-crystal display back; the movement is black rhodium-plated. The platinum micro-rotor is hand-guilloché with the same decoration as the dial. A blue Cordura strap echoes the dial colour.
‘One of the elements that makes this Patek unique,’ says Speake-Marin, is that Patek, ‘as a very classical company, has always used very traditional materials.’ This particular example, however, is made in titanium, as Patek President Thierry Stern explains in an exclusive interview on Christies.com. ‘As with watchmaking as a whole,’ Speake-Marin adds, ‘it’s about art, about quality, about perfection in mechanics.’