As a rule, you won’t see much auction coverage on aBlogtoWatch. For a number of reasons, we don’t believe that these events are a valuable or useful representation of the watch world. But Only Watch presents a different case. Since its inception in 2005, the biennial watch auction has invited some of the most prestigious watch brands in the world to create a one-off watch and contribute it to the catalog. There’s no doubt as to Only Watch’s success: To date, it has raised almost CHF 100 million for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) research, including over CHF 30 million each from of the last two events. By offering completely new, unique models from the best brands in the world, and putting all the proceeds toward charity (Christie’s waives all the usual fees), Only Watch creates a healthy distance between itself and traditional auctions.

Only Watch founder Luc Pettavino speaking at last year’s event.

Only Watch 2023 marks the 10th edition of the auction, with 73 different watchmakers involved in the 62 different lots on offer—the largest catalog yet. To celebrate its anniversary, Only Watch has chosen to combine the vibrant colors that defined its previous editions and added green, yielding a wonderfully polychromatic theme for this year.  Some brands simply change the dial color of an existing model, some change one of their watches so thoroughly as to be unrecognizable, while a handful go above and beyond to create truly one-of-a-kind watches. The aBlogtoWatch team has pored over the catalog and picked some of our favorites to highlight below. Across the next few months, as the November 5th auction draws nearer, keep an eye out for in-depth looks at some of our picks and others from the catalog.

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ArtyA Purity Moissanite

ArtyA frequently produces watches that have colored sapphire cases, but the brand has taken things one step further for Only Watch 2023 and created a timepiece with a case crafted entirely from moissanite. Originally discovered in 1893 inside a meteor crater, moissanite is a semi-precious mineral that’s harder and more scratch resistant than sapphire. Transparent and with a light dispersion index twice that of diamond, moissanite is characterized by even greater “fire and ice” tones, and ArtyA has cut the case of this one-of-a-kind creation with 600 facets to magnify the rainbow hues that appear and sparkle in the light. Inside the transparent moissanite case is a highly skeletonized movement that features a flowing and sculptural design with all extraneous material cut away to give the appearance that the components are floating inside the case. The end result is an incredibly striking wristwatch with a transparent case that shimmers like one giant diamond.

Baltic Premier Quantième Perpétuel

Following its monopusher chronograph for Only Watch 2021, Baltic has dialed it up to eleven by unveiling a stunning perpetual calendar along with an entirely new watchmaking studio dubbed Baltic Experiments. The new studio collaborated with watchmaker Emmanuel Bouchet to develop its own perpetual calendar module that results in a balanced and legible dial. The module is mounted on a reworked Vaucher 5401 micro-rotor movement and fitted in a svelte 37mm x 44mm x 9.8mm stainless steel case with a titanium caseback. The silhouette is familiar to those who know the brand but features a frosted mid-case with polished flanks that elevate the visual appeal. A luscious dual-finish purple dial is adorned with a three-register layout for day, month, leap year, moonphase, and running seconds along with a peripheral date. The punchy purple dial is moody, feeling equally modern yet classic making you question what era of watchmaking it could come from. Baltic came to Only Watch 2023 swinging, and as exciting as the watch is the prospects for the new Baltic Experiments studio.

Bell & Ross BR03 Cyber Rainbow

Bell & Ross, like many on this shortlist, has this year gone the distance: an entirely new watch that uses the full rainbow from Only Watch 2023. The BR03 Cyber rainbow fits alongside other Cyber models like the BR 01 Cyber Skull, but instead of a hulking 45mm, it measures a moderate 41mm. It also does away with the skulls in favor of a symmetrical polychromatic gyre of bridges, and the varnished geometric fragments appear to spill out onto the case and rubber strap. One curious bit is that the brand chose to use Black DLC titanium instead of carbon, which has long been its go-to for black cases these days. The watch features the automatic BR-Cal.383, made especially for this watch. While the Cyber series has never been fleshed out, it would be great to see the brand expand on this idea, even if production models don’t end up as whimsical as this.

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Biver Catharsis

Jean-Claude Biver and his son Pierre recently launched the high-end Biver watch brand and are smartly using the Only Watch 2023 auction as a place to show off some of the brand’s ethos. For the auction, the pair has created a highly artistic and emotional titanium-cased version of their Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon known as “Catharsis” with a hand-made dial with a twist—it doesn’t display the time. Using a combination of natural materials and traditional luxury decoration techniques, Biver made a dial that looks like the moon or a sun on the horizon setting (or rising) against a starry sky. The movement uses a single hand displayed on the caseback in order to set the time so that the lovely minute repeater mechanism can be used on command when this special Biver Catharsis watch is worn.

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble

This one took us all by surprise. The Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble elicited loud and explicit exclamations from more than one of us. The watch is so positively shocking and amazing by its design and engineering bravery. A watch case and bracelet in green marble — it could only be Bulgari. It’s as though a green marble Bulgari always should have existed, and at last, it does. It’s not solid marble but rather realized using a special re-application technique that Bulgari developed through “untold hours of painstaking work.” Bulgari at its best combines excellent design with cutting-edge and proprietary solutions, and, as such, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble is a true Bulgari watch.

Frederique Constant x Christiaan Van der Klaauw Tourbillon Planetarium Only Watch 2023

Only Watch always manages each year to catalyze the creation of at least a handful of watches from the world’s finest watchmakers, but just as exciting is when it brings two great brands together to form something entirely new. This year, that included Frederique Constant and Christiaan Van Der Klaauw. That may seem like an odd pairing, but both are Dutch-led and Dutch-founded, and Dutch watchmaker Pim Koelsag took over at CVDK last year after a 20-year career with Frederique Constant. Thankfully, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from and the Tourbillon Planetarium is upon us. This watch pairs a 42mm platinum case with FC’s curved-bridge tourbillon and CVDK’s signature planetarium (the world’s smallest), the latter of which displays the rotation of the planets in real-time (that means you’ll need to own this for 30 years to see Saturn make its rotation). To reinforce the astral magic of it all, the watch has been fitted with a beautiful aventurine dial.

Furlan Marri x Dominique Renaud x Julien Tixier Secular Perpetual Calendar

For its first participation in Only Watch, Furlan Marri has teamed up with watchmakers Dominique Renaud (of Renaud et Papi) and Julien Tixier to create a secular perpetual calendar, the standard perpetual calendar’s cooler cousin that you don’t see much but it’s always a party when you do. A secular perpetual calendar is a more advanced and precise mechanism, able to account for skipped leap years that happen once every century and therefore only requires a single adjustment once every 400 years as opposed to a perpetual calendar’s 100-year period. Further upping the ante, Furlan Marri has designed it to be as simple as possible, with a bespoke 25-component module fitted to a La Joux-Perret movement. The 39mm case of the watch is made from rhodium-plated silver, while the dial is made from titanium with a bright blue finish that has been achieved with an in-house anodic oxidation treatment. For a brand that got its start on Kickstarter with what was effectively a vintage reissue, this is some serious heat for a first foray into the horological jockeying that is Only Watch.

Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement Only Watch Edition

One thing to appreciate about Only Watch is that the many timepieces submitted here have often served as solid indicators of what we can expect from a brand. Some of the watches here are interesting not from a styling perspective — special stone settings, dial colors, and whatever else — but from a technical one. It is clear that the latter are so costly to develop that we can reasonably expect them to reappear soon in a production model, therefore turning some Only Watch debut pieces into official leaks of sorts. We can’t know for sure, but history tells us these are not always unreasonable expectations. The Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement is a watch that follows up on the Constant Escapement from around a decade ago, a timepiece of remarkable engineering complexity and promising chronometric performance. This short write-up doesn’t provide the space to look into it any deeper, but suffice it to say we hope we’ll get to see more of the ingenious Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement watch soon.

Konstantin Chaykin Stargazer Only Watch 2023

For Only Watch 2023, watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin presents a new version of the Joker that also happens to be the most complicated wristwatch he has ever made. With two wearable dials (the case is reversible) the Stargazer Only Watch 2023 has a full 16 complications – while maintaining the “eyes and mouth” style of the Wristmon dials—quite the balancing act between form and function. While the watch likely needs to be set to a particular location on the earth, from there the user has access to information such as the length of the day, phase of the moon, sidereal time, current zodiac, sunrise/sunset times, and even a solar activity cycle indicator (plus more, like the time). The Stargazer Only Watch 2023 timepiece will come in a 42mm wide steel case and will surely be the halo piece in the Wristmon collection if not Chaykin’s entire catalog.


Richard Mille Talisman Origine

Demonstrating its penchant for imagination, Richard Mille “unearthed” a talisman from the Jura mountains and declared it the Talisman Origine, a shamanic relic holding unknown powers. With two crowns reflecting the sun and moon, and a fully skeletonized structure, the Talisman Origine is a glimpse into a fictional historic Swiss civilization. The ancient pendant is the brand’s interpretation of what a mystical and historic timepiece with spiritual powers could have been. While you’ll need to stretch your imagination to picture the final piece and its prehistoric design cues, Richard Mille isn’t holding back on materials. A mix of red gold and titanium will decorate the exterior of the pendant while the skeletonized tourbillon caliber CRMT5 ticks away inside. Richard Mille’s standard fare is what most consider a concept watch, but the Talisman Origine is proof that even a brand known for pushing boundaries can surprise with something new—by making something “old.” It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this one courtside or on a red carpet in the near future.

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds for Only Watch

It’s difficult to believe for a brand that’s almost synonymous with chronographs, but TAG Heuer has never produced a mechanical split-seconds chronograph–until now. For Only Watch 2023, the brand sets its sights on the classic rattrapante for the first time, packaged in the classic Monaco silhouette. The TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is more than just a new complication, however. Its 41mm-wide case is made of a proprietary material TAG Heuer refers to as texturized titanium, which brings a futuristic mottled texture to the familiar Monaco case alongside a new split-seconds pusher at 9 o’clock. The skeleton dial keeps most of the familiar visual cues of the Monaco intact but has a greyscale and red color scheme that makes it look like a Sin City LE. The new in-house TH81-00 automatic split-seconds chronograph movement is engraved with a checkered flag motif and gets a pop of color with hand-painted rainbow accents on the rotor. As a standalone watch, the TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is certainly one of the most striking offerings at this year’s Only Watch auction, but it also stands as a historic milestone for one of the most storied chronograph nameplates in the industry.

Tiffany & Co. Bird on a Rock Mechanical Pendant Only Watch

Tiffany & Co has no intention of letting watch enthusiasts forget that it is first and foremost an artisan jeweler. For Only Watch 2023, the brand has reimagined its 1965 classic Bird on a Rock brooch into a dazzling pendant watch that you may actually need sunglasses for. Hanging on an 18k yellow gold chain bedazzled with 81 diamonds is a platinum and yellow gold bird with two pink sapphire eyes and a further 3 carats of round diamonds. Inside the 18k yellow gold case is the Le Temps Manufacture manually wound movement composed of 89 pieces, beating at 3.5Hz with a 38-hour power reserve. The movement isn’t going to turn heads, but the dial and crystal certainly will if the bird and chain haven’t already: 461 diamonds are snow-set onto the dial in a painstaking 11-hour process, covered by an aquamarine crystal pushing over 34 carats in weight. Tiffany & Co didn’t hold back with this year’s Only Watch entry, and when it’s for charity, this is exactly what we like to see.

Tudor Prince Chronograph One

Tudor has a history of previewing future designs through Only Watch, and for 2023 the Swiss marque has teased the return of one of its landmark chronograph designs, the 1976 Prince Oysterdate “Big Block,” the brand’s first automatic chronograph. Tudor channels the beefy ‘70s charm of this classic reference with the new Tudor Prince Chronograph One while cranking both the build quality and the visual drama up significantly. Presented in solid 18K yellow gold with a matching gold oyster bracelet, the Tudor Prince Chronograph One’s 42mm-wide case is anything but subtle, but it wouldn’t be right for a modern descendant of the “Big Block” to be small and demure on the wrist. The dial has a delightful matte black surface and gold subdials, hands, and markers. Tudor introduces the new MT59XX automatic chronograph movement in the Prince Chronograph One, the first chronograph movement that partner Kenissi has made for Tudor, and surely not the last time we’ll see it. While the luxurious black and gold colorway of the Tudor Prince Chronograph One might remain exclusive to Only Watch 2023, it’s a safe bet to that a stainless steel evolution of this model will make its way into retailers in the next few years.

Be sure to keep an eye out for in-depth looks at these and other highlights from Only Watch 2023 and, in the meantime, let us know in the comments what you think of our picks and check out the entire lineup for Only Watch 2023 and let us know your favorites!

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