I was looking forward to this auction and I was keen to see the surprise that was being prepared by Patek Philippe. Unfortunately, it never came. To make matters worse, the general atmosphere around the organisers of Only Watch has been growing tenser with every passing day, so now they really need to do something to regain their credibility.

Back in the summer, everything was going according to the plan: the organisers of the Only Watch charity auction published a list of the models that were due to go under the hammer in November (the auction takes place every two years and its proceeds go towards developing a drug for children suffering from a rare disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy).

This year’s 10th edition was supposed to be the biggest event in the history of Only Watch, as a record number of 73 independent watchmakers and well-known brands announced their participation, as well as the fact that we were going to see brand-new models (joint designs born from collaborations between watchmakers and artists, or independent watchmakers with legendary brands).

After having been officially presented, the watches went on a world tour so collectors could see them in person. Christie’s auction house planned exhibitions in seven cities: Los Angeles, New York, Monaco, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and Dubai. But after the tour reached Monaco, it didn’t go any further. Why? Due to the questions and uncertainties that have arisen surrounding the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) – the association which oversees the auction. The first person to write about the lack of transparency regarding the AMM was Grégory Pons. Others then joined him, and with each passing week the comments gained more momentum until they were snowballing at a dizzying pace. The dominoes really started falling when Audemars Piguet announced in October that it was withdrawing its watch – the Royal Oak Flying Tourbillon Openworked Only Watch Edition – from the auction, whose value was estimated at 300,000-500,000 CHF, and Patek Philippe and Richard Mille still hadn’t even revealed what they were intending to exhibit.

Only F. P. Journe defended the organiser, calling Luc Pettavino, the brains behind Only Watch, an “extraordinary man”. But the milk had already been spilled: shortly before the auction, questions about what has happened to the 100 million EUR collected by AMM since 2005 were increasingly raised on social media. In a special letter dated 8 October, Luc Pettavino revealed that over 55 million EUR is still in various bank accounts as a reserve that will be needed to finance the final clinical phase before the drug is launched.

It is true that there is no concrete evidence of any irregularities, but the lack of transparency surrounding AMM’s activities has become fuel for speculation, which has ultimately led to the Only Watch auction being postponed to an as yet unspecified date in 2024.

Now, all eyes are on Only Watch and Luca Pettavino, who will most likely do everything he can for AMM to regain credibility. When Pettavino organised the first auction in 2005, no one could have anticipated how beneficial these auctions would end up being to the watch industry, especially to independent creators. Initially, several brands offered their watches at the auction, and the models they displayed were slightly modified versions of those from running collections. Over time, Only Watch became an institution, and the unique items it offers that are made especially for this auction are a real treat for those looking for collector’s items.

I believe that all is not lost and the organisers will get through this crisis. But what will happen with the watches that were supposed to be auctioned at this year’s Only Watch edition? Time will tell.

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