Only Watch revealed 62 lots for the 2023 season, marking the 10th edition of this biennial charity auction of unique watches. We sieve through the lot, and pick six of the best.
This year, the theme is to celebrate bright and colourful stories by including all colours of previous editions and adding the colour green – the emblem of hope as a new component. The watches will be auctioned by Christie’s on Sunday November 5, starting at 2pm (CET) at PALEXPO, the auction can also be followed online via christies.com and bids can be additionally placed over phone (please liaise with Christie’s). No buyer’s premium or commissions are applicable for the Only Watch charity sale, as in previous editions.
Deployant favourites: Six of the best lots from Only Watch 2023
Here are our picks:
Biver Catharsis: Lot 10
Unlike many other participating maisons, Biver chose a new interpretation of their minute repeater carillon tourbillon. The Catharsis, as the model is to be called, offers an invisible gemset stone marquetery and guilloché dial in a titanium case with no visible display of time.
This is the original raison d’être for a minute repeater, first invented before the availability of the lume, and to know the time in the dark, one has to either take the trouble to light a candle or just to demand one’s watch to strike the time.
The movement is based on the first Biver Carillon Tourbillon, the brand’s debut watch released just ahead of Watches & Wonders 2023.
Girard-Perregaux Neo Constant Escapement: Lot 26
From GP, a revival of their magnificent Constant Escapement, which caused quite a stir in the high horology community when it was released in 2013. But now redesigned to use their Neo aesthttic of curved bridges. The watch looks stunning.
But the essence of the Constant Escapement remains. The principle uses a system which alternates between two semi-stable positions, flicking from one to the other to create a constant escapement, chopping up the full power of the mainspring into many smaller torque segments. This provides a constant force to the escapement, regardless of the position of the mainspring. And acts like a remontoir. We explained this concept in detail in our review of the Grönefeld 1941 Remontoire. Note the small details like the arrow shaped bridges which hold the escapement, giving a nod to the similarly shaped golden bridges in their famous Tourbillon with Three Golden Bridges.
The GP is one of the few lots which do not use the colour scheme of this edition.
Louis Moinet Art-Tech: Lot 38
The dial of the Louis Moinet Art-Tech uses the optical properties of microelectronic circuits engraved on a silicon wafer to create an intense visual animation of multicoloured reflections that flash over a clear graphic design whenever the watch moves.
The use of silicon wafer is not new in its application for dial making. The Hermès Cape Cod crépuscule, released in 2022, pioneered the use of these optical reflections to make a very intriguing dial. But the Louis Moinet can lay claim to be the first tourbillon to use a wafer on the dial.
The movement Louis Moinet chose is the same as the one they used for the Savanna Tourbillon released earlier this year, which also feature an Métiers d’Art dial made up of actual jigsaw puzzles.
Singer Reimagined & Genus 8 Track: Lot 52
Excellent collaboration fusing the technical movement capabilities of ultra complicated mechanical time display of the Genus with the Singer aesthetic in a case inspired by the iconic watches of the 60s and 70s, with a deep connection to the world of motorsports.
The movement is based in the Genus GNS 1 display system with a peripheral disc for the hours. This is a simpler version than the GNS 1 as there is no need to ensure that each hour numeral is upright as the entire 12 numerals are housed in a sloped disc which makes one rotation every 12 hours. The tens-of-minutes uses a free-moving race car element hand sculpted of 18K gold circulating between two foci, instead of the 12 segment Genera with lead indicator used in the GNS 1. The precise minute indicator on the GNS 1 is deleted on the 8 Track.
The Singer-Genus 8 Track also does not make use of multiple colours playing with green as specified in the Only Watch brief.
UN Freak S: Lot 59
This is a more conventional design, if the Freak can be described as anything remotely conventional. The Freak S, launched in 2022, is true to the original Freak, first established by Ludwig Oeschelin in collaboration with Rolf Schnyder. This is a very unusual watch with no hands, no dial, and no crown. The Freak S is automatic winding with the use of the brand’s Grinder automatic system instead of manual winding for the original watches.
The Freak S indicates the time thanks to the rotation of its own movement. Two bridges rotate around its center. They respectively indicate the hours and minutes. An arrow shows the hours while the nose cone of the spaceship indicates the minutes. And for the Only Watch example, bares even more of its internals than normal, with the appropriate brightly coloured elements.
Voutilainen CSW: Lot 61
From Voutilainen comes the CSQ Only Watch – a fully integrated world timer watch in a cushion shaped case, totally new from Kari. The movement is based on the Vingt-8, but is a completely new caliber with the addition of the world timer indication. The movement retains its thickness, but a new construction allows creation with circular disks in the same volume. Power reserve of the movement is 60 hours.
As usual, the dial features the superb guilloché of the Comblémine workshops of Voutilainen, this time with the Only Watch 23 green theme as the base and accented in yellow for excellent contrast.
A worthwhile contribution by Kari Voutilainen. This is not just a dial refresh, but a new movement caliber (variant of an existing) in a new case shape.
So here are our top 6 picks from the crop of 73 watchmakers/brands, featuring 16 collaborations (between watchmakers or with artists and legendary brands), and resulting in an auction of 62 lots. Which are your picks?