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Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

This year sees the eighth edition of the Only Watch auction, which has been held biennially since 2005. Officiated by Christie’s and organized by the Monegasque Association against Muscular dystrophy to raise funds for research into Duchene Muscular dystrophy, the events have thus far raised more than 40 million Swiss Francs by selling the unique piece creations specially produced for Only Watch.

Some of the finest watchmakers around don their thinking caps and produce such a unique piece to go under the hammer — some take part with an established watch sporting a minor modification, while some others participate with totally “one-off” watches. This year’s auction sees as many as 50 pieces submitted from a total of 52 watchmakers — with De Bethune and Urwerk,  and MB&F and L’Epee collaborating on their submissions). This year’s signature color for the event (which is used in marketing materials and conceived to give every biennial collection its own distinct flavor) is light blue. Just like in previous years, watchmakers have used this color to great effect, enlivening their classic pieces for one lucky owner. Others, however, have gone for the no-holds-barred approach and submitted a wild and wonderful creation.

Rather than take you through all 50 pieces in great depth, I’ve chosen my Top Ten and will provide a brief rundown of them here. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll provide closer looks at the models that really captured our imagination and have relevance to the industry en masse. But if you can’t wait to see all 50 pieces, check out the gallery at the bottom of the page, which includes them all (minus the Bell & Ross piece, which isn’t available yet).

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

10. Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporain Only Watch

This platinum beauty comes straight from the mind of Rexhep Rexhepi, who has seen fit to emblazon the dial with his name (and why not?). Despite that unusual branding choice, this piece comes as part of the Akrivia brand canon, and one of the finest, most wearable examples yet in my opinion. At 38mm wide and 9.5mm thick, this is one sublimely wearable watch. The in-house and expertly finished RR01 caliber boasts an impressive 100-hour power reserve from one barrel. But Rexhepi didn’t achieve this piece entirely by himself: The case was made by Mr. Jean Pierre Hagmann, the famed Genevan artisan, heralding the dawn of a new partnership that could yield some very exciting results. The estimated hammer price for this model is $40,000-60,000.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

9. De Witt Academia Slide Only Watch

Trust me, this one came as a surprise to me too. While I very much like and respect the “time-toboggan” hour indicator, the original Academia Slide never gave me butterflies. This model, however, utilizes the Only Watch colorway rather brilliantly and marries it with a hot red, which makes this, to my eyes, the ideal watch for a Texas oilman still lamenting the exodus of the Houston Oilers. We only have a tiny image of it now, but that doesn’t stop me from showering it with praise. With a sale estimate of $60,000-$80,000, I doubt this piece will struggle to find a home. What can I say other than “Luv Ya Blue!”

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Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

8. Moritz Grossman Réserve de Marche Classique

My respect for what Moritz Grossman has been doing lately is flourishing into all-out love. This throwback piece builds on the core Réserve da Marche collection, which is identified by its horizontal “loading bar” power reserve. Powered by the 100.2 caliber, this watch is typical of the Glashütte tradition, boasting regionally distinct finishing. The Roman Numerals are not common for the core collection, nor is the champagne sunray dial. The use of the Only Watch 2019 light blue is a masterclass in restraint. With a projected gavel price of $30,000-$50,000, this one seems a real bargain in comparison to the core range. Top marks for Moritz Grossman here.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

7. Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Tourbillon Openworked Only Watch Edition

When the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 launched earlier this year, it grabbed almost every column inch going. And no wonder! A new family from AP is not something we witness every day. And what did the community make of it? Well, there was a lot of division. While the case design (a sweet call back to the octagonal bezel of the Royal Oak seen in the case middle) was widely praised, the dials, according to many, left a lot to be desired.

So here we are at number seven on our list, and the Code 11.59 has finally smashed it out of the park for me here. The busy, yet congruous dial and the delicious two-tone case — which ties in nicely with the barrel and tourbillon bridges — have set this piece apart from the majority of the crowd. It’s one of the priciest on the list with a predicted sale price of $190,000-$240,000.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

6. Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic

This one came as a bit of a surprise. Ariel and I discussed the Piaget Altiplano Ultimate Automatic at more length than we expected to in an upcoming podcast, simply because the more we looked at it (and dug into the cool automatic movement), the more we realized it was a significant piece not just for Only Watch, but for Piaget also.

What we’re looking at here is an opulently styled, tastefully slim self-winding wristwatch in 18ct rose gold, sporting a technically advanced and rare peripheral rotor. The colorway is classic and tasteful. The movement display sufficiently technical. The functionality and comfort? At 4.3mm thin, this really is one of the subtle stars of the show. With an estimate of $30,000-$50,000, it really has a chance to make waves.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

5. Singer Reimagined Singer Track 1 — Only Watch Edition

This one snuck up on the list like a thief in the night. With its DLC-coated Damascus steel case, the Singer Reimagined Singer Track 1 is an absolute barnstormer. First, it is a highly complicated chronograph that was developed by industry-veteran Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. Second, it was specially designed for world-renowned Porsche restorer, Singer, whose cars are priced well into the six-figures. Third, it is presented in a fetching “John Player Special” colorway — something that will likely make a difference to that one bidder in the room with a soft spot for the era of car racing defined by this elegant, yet menacing color combination. Lastly, but by no means least, this piece is the result of a collaboration with Swedish brand Gustafsson & Sjogren, meaning this wunderkind has many doting parents. And so although it carries a pretty steep estimate ($45,000-55,000), there’s little doubt in my mind it’ll climb that mountain and then some.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

4. De Bethune + Urwerk Moon Satellite for Only Watch 2019

Admittedly, this combination would probably end up in everyone’s top 5 before even seeing the piddly little sketch that De Bethune and Urwerk deemed acceptable to provide…  But should we really be surprised? Two of the industry’s most enjoyable brands for their oftentimes bonkers approach to horology and the complete abandonment of its norms have collaborated to create something that could turn out to be quite special. Does it feel like a partnership that should work not just for this project, but for others going forward? Yes. Does it look like it takes the most recognizable elements of both brands and merges them seamlessly? Yes. Does the current sketch remind anyone else of Sweet Mayhem’s helmet from the Lego Movie? Answers on a postcard… The top estimate for the De Bethune + Urwerk Moon Satellite for Only Watch 2019 is $180,000.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

3. Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1 Night Star FB 1.4-4

For Only Watch 2019, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud has followed up its remarkable FB 1L with the Chronomètre FB 1 Night Star FB 1.4-4. It is yet another — but not yet boring — iteration of the FB 1 where the strictly traditional movement design and marine chronometer-inspired case are combined with high-tech or at least highly unusual materials. The ceramized titanium case is a thing of brooding beauty, while the industrial dial elements never let-up on the darker persona this watch is trying to project.

For this watch to reveal its true ability, you must flip it over in your hands (or simply click this link!). Once that’s done, you will see the tourbillon movement with a fusee-and-chain transmission and a host of other extraordinary details. It’s one of watchmaking’s best-kept secrets, for me, and I never get tired of admiring the finishing this relatively low-output Maison (which is owned by Chopard) achieves time and time again. A trifling bid of $170,000-$200,000 should see you in the mix for this model when the hammer falls.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

2. F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue

I’ll happily take a bit of flack for not putting this one top of the list (because from a horological perspective, it probably deserves to be). It was only an extreme aesthetic admiration for the piece that topped the chart kept it from the first position. But I’m just one guy. I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

While this is a prototype (and sold as such), it is possible F.P. Journe is planning a new release based on this hyper-complicated timepiece. And why not? Who doesn’t want a watch that displays the hours, minutes, and seconds of average time, a second timezone, the hours and minutes of sidereal time, the time of the sunrise and sunset, the phase of the moon, the power reserve, an annual calendar, and the equation of time?

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

One thing I also love is how simple F.P. Journe kept the name. In an age when we’re used to seeing names as long as press releases, the F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue seems almost impolitely curt, considering its fearsome list of functions. Seriously. It almost makes the fact that the concept movement features a double barrel, minute repeater, 60-second tourbillon, and a dead-beat second surplus to requirements…

With a whopping estimated sale price of $300,000-$600,000, this one really does represent the creme de la creme of the auction.

Our Top Picks Of 50 Unique Luxury Watches Made For Only Watch 2019 Sales & Auctions Watch Industry News Watch Releases

1. Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire

Well, they had to wade through some pretty stiff competition to get to the top step, but the horological brothers have done it. If you allow a personal note, I will share that the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire has stolen my heart. I love the frosted dial and the visually engaging remontoire system. At the 9 o’clock position of the dial, a blue “Governor” spins every eight seconds. This feature is performing much the same function as a fusee-and-chain system: its purpose is to supply the escapement with constant force throughout the mainspring’s lifespan. It is a phenomenal addition to an already stellar collection. And with a flash of orange decorating the back of the Ostrich leather strap, the Grönefeld boys stay true to their roots once more. Experts assume this piece will fetch somewhere in the region of $48,000-$69,000, which sounds like a good result for all involved. Learn more about the Only Watch 2019 watches at onlywatch.com.

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Comments

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  • Independent_George

    The Akrivia is my favorite. Rexhep Rexhepi can do no wrong IMHO.

    I would like to see the MG is person because I don’t think the photo does the dial or case justice. Same with the DeWitt. I am not sure what I am looking at.

    Respect for the Singer, but it doesn’t do much for me.

    I’d flip the Journe and the Gronefeld because the Journe packs all those complications into a very clean and very legible design. To me, that is the primary achievement, not all the complications but designing a watch with all those complications that doesn’t look complicated at all. Look at the Montblanc and the Louis Monet in comparison. Those watches make my eyes hurt.

    I do like the the Gronefeld, and that watch is something I’d actually wear.

    AP improved the Code 11.59 by leaps and bounds simply by removing the dial.

    Of the rest, the Patek is butt ugly. The Mille is appropriately hideous. It seems that Tudor would rather you not be able to tell the time. Swatch Group representatives BP, Breguet and JD just phoned it in. GP improved the Absolute by filling in the cutouts. The Czapek is gorgeous, as mentioned before. So is the Hermes. JLC? They can do better. The MB&F/L’Epee smash-up is wonderfully demented.

  • Titus

    Trilobe? Never heard of them, but they sure have my attention. I feel there’s something feminine to the design, but according to their website their product is aimed at both genders.
    Not sure if I would want one for myself (male) but as lady’s watches go, it’s one of the most appealing designs I’ve seen in a long time.

    • SuperStrapper

      The brand is just this watch (it has a few colourway). The watch came out last year I thought I read about it here but maybe not. It’s a 2892 with chronode module for the display. It’s overpriced too, $5000+
      I agree the display is cool but there isn’t really anything new or challenging about it. It would require a premium I’m just not sure this was the right one.

  • NaJo

    AP code is wowww.. just wowww… wish to hold it soon!
    Othet watches r awesome patek, BB ceramic full black, frederique constant, FB.. hard to choose

    @abtw team, you guys need to add pictures viewing tool where if we open 1 we can slide through all instead of opening 1 by 1 in a separate window. Pls do that for us to enjoy snaps

    • SuperStrapper

      I absolutely support this request.
      For me (android) when I leave a picture it resets me to the top of that page/portion. Annoying, especially in a post like this with such a rich gallery.
      Also, why did DeWitt use a potato to create thier image.

      • Agnar Sidhu

        Because a potato has a better shape then a pair of fries?

  • WINKS

    How many ‘third’ points can you have for the Singer?

  • Mikita

    MB&F perfectly summarized what I think of this year’s the Only Watch auction pieces.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/120463af2057f87a9eedea3cb7e5f9e9a2e86eb7f8307018db45e51166949ced.jpg

    • Gokart Mozart

      Not sure what you think but I love it. The creature reminds me of the green character from Monsters Inc.

  • Gokart Mozart

    A bit more (or a lot more) info on some of these watches is required.

    The pick has to be the FPJ obviously. Everything you would expect from an FPJ but being his first and only grand complication for sale. Can you imagine the significance of this watch in the future.

    An easy to read, legible double sided watch with some of the movement visible, all cased in the beautiful tantalum case.

  • Gokart Mozart

    2 of the prettiest 3 hander watches are absolutely stunning. Just jaw droppingly beautiful front and back. Whoever is lucky enough to obtain them will have a hard time not to wear them 24/7 365 days.

    A couple of things I will mention about the Akrivia Rexhep is in regards to the name. I met him again at Salon Qp and I asked him. Basically to simplify and paraphrase roughlyit is a combination of people not realising Akrivia is Rexhepi, and certain people / markets wanting Rexhepi on the dial.

    As for the dial it self, it is actually an enamelled dial. The numerals and track are white enamel and the blue is hand hammered enamel. If anybody knows how that is done could they please explain. Is it as simple as breaking the enamel?

    • SuperStrapper

      Not broken, textured with a hammered finish, hand done.

      • Gokart Mozart

        I get that but how is it done, without breaking it. I magine it to be like getting a hammered finish on a sheet of glass without breaking it

        • SuperStrapper

          I don’t claim to have been there but I assume the process is done before the enamel is finally fired and hardened. There are artist enamels that are less a paint then they are a spackle, and I could see them offering the ability to be textured/manipulated finely before the kiln.

  • Gokart Mozart

    It is great advertising and kudos for exams if a 10k watch sold for 50k

  • Daniel Harper

    Wow wow wow; That Journe is on a whole ‘nother level, but I think you’ve got a good number 1 with that gronefeld. My fave might be the Chronometre Contemporain if I could pick one to keep, but how about that Breguet Type 20??? That is a good sign that maybe they’ll add a new facet to that collection

  • Gokart Mozart

    I look forward to it, and there are many nice watches in there. Make sure you include the Breguet type20 please. Vintage size, vintage period type movement and an absolute beauty.

    Non Only Watch related Habring have a new perpetual calendar.

  • Lode_Runner

    Some of these are just nuts, but a few give us a glimpse of things the brands could actually realistically build today, that are so much better than their current offerings. The Breguet Type XX is a really good example of that, it is so much nicer and classier than the brand’s current Type XX/XXI offerings. If they made a watch like that with those dimensions (similar to an El Primero 1969), they’d probably sell a ton of them.

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