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November 1, 2013updated Feb 14, 2014

Auction Highlights

By Chris Boyle


By Saori Omura, Watch Director Antiquorum, Leading Auctioneer for Timepiece

Held on September 28, the 2013 edition of the charitable Only Watch auction in the beautiful seaside setting of Monaco was not only a celebration of fine watchmaking but also a coup for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research, the beneficiary of 100 percent of the auction proceeds—just under $6.9 million this year, topping last year’s total by more than a million.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5004T

As Patek Philippe is one of the most sought-after watch brands in the world, all eyes were focused on how well this watch would do at auction, and it did not disappoint, bringing in about $2,165,890.

Ref. 5004T is a modern interpretation of the now discontinued Ref. 5004, an iconic complicated design that touts a split-seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar, moon phase, leap year, and 24-hour indications.

The unique Ref. 5004T is cased in titanium, an atypical case material for the brand. The lightness of the case is matched by the sporty dial design featuring a guilloché carbon fiber pattern with a red hand as an accent.

The textile strap, meanwhile, has a geometric design mimicking the carbon fiber dial design down to its red stitching. For a Patek Philippe collector, a piece like this comes around only once in a lifetime, and likely remains in one’s collection for a long time.

Laurent Ferrier, Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral

It was an honor to have this quiet yet ambitious independent brand well-represented at Only Watch, where I had the privilege to view the piece in person: It has an aesthetic quality similar to the tranquil beauty of a Zen garden.

The Galet (meaning “pebble” in French) is sublime to the touch as its exact curvature has been calculated with micrometer precision. The grand feu enamel dial in soft brown pictures a dove to represent peace.

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The movement is highly complicated, its tourbillon fitted with a double balance spring in order to achieve a level of precision qualified by Geneva’s strict chronometer Besançon Observatory board. Flawles s attention to detail appears effortless in this unique timepiece that fully realizes Ferrier’s aesthetics and raised about $177,039 at auction.

Stateside collectors should look out for a greater local presence from Laurent Ferrier.

Zenith, el Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th Tribute to Felix Baumgartner, Prototype 1/1

If there were only one “groundbreaking” watch at this auction, this would be it. The same model was worn by Felix Baumgartner during the first supersonic dive from space back to earth that broke the sound barrier.

This watch, which sold at auction for about $61,149, was carefully created and precision-tested to meet the needs of Baumgartner’s feat, to withstand the temperature and gravitational differences between space and earth.

The movement consists of silicon instead of traditional metal to account for temperature changes.

Once again a watch has been associated with great human achievement, just as Rolex is still remembered as the watch that Mercedes Gleitze wore when she first crossed the English Channel and the Omega Speedmaster as the first watch to reach the moon.

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