A few weeks ago, the organisers of Only Watch published a list of watches that will be sold at auction in November. I know everyone on the internet has had something to say about this, but I've decided to add my take on it anyway.

Even the oldest watchmakers don’t remember there ever being such a boom for watches like we have seen over the past three years. There has also been an exponential growth in interest in auctions selling historical and contemporary models.

As for the clients, the wealthy are increasingly interested in unique pieces and auctions like Only Watch are a great opportunity for them to pick up gems, which is why the internet went crazy when they released a preview of the first models that will go under the hammer in November.

Only Watch is a real treat for people hunting for collectables, as it sells unique pieces created especially for this charity auction. The auction is held every two years under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, and the proceeds support children affected by a rare disease – Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The first edition of Only Watch took place in 2005 and to date the organisers have managed to raise over 100 million CHF.

This year’s 10th edition will probably be the biggest event in the history of Only Watch. Firstly, because it will be attended by a record number of independent watchmakers and well-known brands (73!). And secondly, because of its uniqueness: 62 watches will be up for auction, of which 16 are the result of cooperation between watchmakers and artists or watchmakers and legendary brands.

What’s more, Only Watch has never been so colourful. Since the first edition, participating brands have been encouraged by the organiser to use specific colours which were different each year, but this time participants could choose one or all of the shades used in the previous nine auctions. Green is an additional colour suggested by Only Watch in 2023, which symbolises hope.

Apart from the colour guidelines, they had complete freedom. As a result, models were created which have an element of surprise with regards to either appearance, colour, materials or technology. Some designs are all about innovation, others are fun. Watchmakers gave free rein to their creativity, because they didn’t have to think about commercial success (it is guaranteed anyway).

To encourage you to follow the Only Watch auction, and maybe even take part in it, I would like to show you some of the craziest ideas. The first of them, the Streamliner Pandamonium, is the result of a collaboration between H. Moser & Cie. and MB&F. The Streamliner Pandamonium is not yet ready at the time of writing this text, but the design shown with the panda bear as a DJ is a preview of a spectacular piece of work with a touch of light-heartedness.

The next watch is something for lovers of The Rolling Stones, i.e. the candy-coloured The Rolling Stones Automaton from Jaquet Droz. Miniature instruments (guitars, drums) rotate on a black disc resembling a vinyl record, and the power reserve indicator visible at 9 o’clock imitates a turntable tonearm with a needle.

Louis Vuitton interpreted one of the most famous portraits of Albert Einstein, in which the famous physicist sticks his tongue out at journalists. The Tambour Einstein Automata Model is a combination of the art of watchmaking and enamelling, because the dial is decorated with grisaille enamel.

This year, Patek Philippe is working on a surprise. What we know about the watch that will appear at the Only Watch auction is that it will be built for the 85th birthday of Philippe Stern, the company’s honorary president, which falls in November. Thierry Stern decided to pay tribute to him by creating a model with his father’s favourite big complication. Interestingly, the watch will be powered by a movement designed and produced exclusively for this unique watch and it will not be used by the company afterwards.

That’s enough encouragement. I hope that I have managed to whet the appetites of at least a few watch lovers and encourage you to at least watch the Only Watch auction, because regardless of its results, we can expect an electrifying atmosphere and, probably, some sensational auctions.

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