One of the emerging trends for the Only Watch charity watch auction series (the Only Watch 2021 event is happening in November) is for independent watchmakers to collaborate on unique watches and thus share in both the effort and the visibility. Only Watch is an interesting auction event because, unlike most watch auctions, this particular event requires the watches to be sold to either be entirely unique or the first in a limited-edition series. The money received goes to a medical charity and not the brands themselves. So, the value in participating for brands is the exposure and attention (for the most part), and it has been interesting to see how smaller (albeit very high-end) names in the watch industry have adapted to this over the years.
One particular collaboration product at Only Watch 2021 is the “Kind Of Magic” watch produced together between De Bethune and Kari Voutilainen. Both are very important names in contemporary boutique ultra-luxury watches and the Kind Of Magic watch is very much a mash-up between their respective visual styles and attributes in a watch that has a “convertible” dial. In short, the King Of Magic watch has a middle case that flips around with one side featuring a dial and hands imagined (and produced) by Kari Voutilainen, while the other is a dial from De Bethune, along with the case and movement, which were designed by Denis Flageollet. The hope, of course, is that this one-of-a-kind watch promotes the best of both worlds — or as Only Watch puts it, helps advance the visual “codes” of these respective master watchmakers.
Anyone familiar with these two brands will be able to immediately understand the basis for the Kind Of Magic watch. The guilloche engraved blue-colored dial and matching two-tone hands are extremely evocative of many Voutilainen timepieces. There are small differences that seem to suggest De Bethune products – such as the chapter ring with the minute markers on it. Only the Voutilainen name is used on this dial. Using the specially engineered case, the dial and movement compartment spin to reveal the back of the watch, which also happens to have another set of hands for the time. Here we see not just a view of De Bethune mechanical movement, but also a secondary indicator for the hours and minutes. The minutes are indicated on the main dial via a partially hidden hand, while the hours are indicated on a smaller dial which is located above the 6 o’clock position on the dial.
The case and manually wound movement are, for the most part, entirely De Bethune in style and origin. We see a skeletonized version of their popular dead-beat seconds movement, along with a 43.3mm wide polished grade 5 titanium case with articulating skeletonized lugs (for comfort). The movement is the De Bethune caliber OW21, which is manually wound and designed to operate synchronized hands on both sides of the case. The “movement side” offers a view of the silicon-based regulation system that further uses a series of special parts exclusive to De Bethune. The movement operates at 3Hz (I believe) with a full four days of power reserve between two mainspring barrels. The movement is further highly skeletonized and decorated with a lot of hand-finishing and polish.
The OW21 movement also features a ticking (dead-beat) versus sweeping seconds hand, which can be best appreciated on the Voutilainen side of the dial. It will be interesting to know which of the two dials the eventual owner of this one-of-a-kind, Kind Of Magic watch prefers. There are plenty of De Bethune collectors and there are plenty of Voutilainen collectors. Will the piece unique Kind of Magic watch appeal to them both at the same time? We will need to wait and find out after this item is sold at the Only Watch 2021 auction event (aBlogtoWatch shares its top picks here) in November. The estimated price for the De Bethune X Voutilainen Kind Of Magic watch is between 200,000 – 250,000 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Only Watch website here.