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1 week ago

$17m One-off Patek Philippe Leads Sales at 10th Edition of Only Watch

After an uneasy journey back to the auction block, Only Watch raises more than $31m in Geneva.

By Ellys Woodhouse

Only coming around every two or so years, Only Watch is usually a guaranteed display of heightened emotions, fast-paced bidding and edge-of-seat tension as buyers battle it out for a lineup of stellar one-of-a-kind timepieces – all in the name of charity. Yet after a longer-than-usual delay, it was more of a relief when the first gravel was finally slammed on Friday at the 10th installment of Only Watch.  

Originally planned for November 2023, hopeful buyers have had to wait longer than usual for their chance to bid for the 47 one-off timepieces on offer at Only Watch – but it’s fair to assume the organizers behind the project didn’t spend their break relaxing.

[See also: Christie’s to Auction Michael Schumacher Watch Collection]

The $17.3m sale puts the one-off Patek Philippe on our list of most expensive watches sold at auction / ©Patek Philippe

Since the ninth edition was held in 2021, the organizers behind Only Watch have undergone an uncomfortable trial by social media that probed into its finances and structure. It may be almost six months later than slated, but with its name cleared – largely thanks to a subsequent audit and overhaul of its governance – the troubled journey getting to the auction block was long forgotten when the 47 unique lots were finally presented under Christie’s hammer on Friday, May 10, 2024. 

Perhaps it was the delay and heightened anticipation that led to bidders feeling particularly frivolous, as the auction ended with sales raising CHF 28.3m (approx $31.1m) towards research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

More than half of that total comes from the headline sale of Patek Philippe’s Ref. 6301A-010, a Rare Handcrafts Grande and Petite Sonnerie Minute Repeater. Closing at CHF 15.7m ($17.3m), not only did it far exceed its initial estimation of CHF 1.5m–1.8m ($1.6m–1.9m), but it also places it at fourth place on our listing of the most expensive watches sold at auction. The buyer has been confirmed as Zach Lu, who also added the $6.5m Tiffany & Co Patek 5711 – another feature on that previously mentioned listing – to his collection back in 2021. 

It may have been the headliner, but Patek Philippe was far from the only timepiece that sold largely above its estimate. 

F.P Journe Chronomètre Furtif Bleu went for 10 times its estimated sale price / ©F.P Journe

F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre Furtif Bleu was perhaps Only Watch’s most surprising sale. Reports from those inside the hall describe how “silence” befell the auction when the first bid went straight in at one million Swiss francs – that was until a “flash” of subsequent offers came in. A final bid from Dubai took it for two million Swiss francs ($2.2m), 10 times the lowest estimate. 

The Chronomètre Antimagnétique from relatively underknown watchmaker Rexhep Rexhepi was fought over / ©Rexhep Rexhepi

Among the successful sales from the likes of industry heavyweights Bulgari, Genta, Journe, and Richard Mille, it was the indie and industry darling Rexhep Rexhepi who likely had the most memorable evening. The young and relatively unknown watchmaker was visibly shocked as the Chronomètre Antimagnétique was fought over by buyers from Switzerland, London, Dubai and Bahrain. The final price was called at CHF 2.1m ($2.3m), quite a leap from the CHF 100,000–150,000 estimate. 

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The Tambour Einstein Automata from Louis Vuitton eventually sold over its estimated price / ©Louis Vuitton

The same excitement can’t quite be said for Jaquet Droz‘s The Rolling Stone Automation Only Watch or Lederer’s Central Impulse Chronometer, which both went for well below their low reserves. Even Louis Vuitton looked like it would be facing an awkward and stubborn time under the hammer, when for a moment it looked like its Tambour Einstein Automata would sell at CHF 120,000, which would be less than half its estimated price, until it finally ground its way up CHF 700,000 ($780,000).

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