Audemars Piguet, FPJ, H. Moser & Cie, and Zenith achieve record breaking results at Only Watch 2021 Audemars Piguet, FPJ, H. Moser & Cie, and Zenith achieve record breaking results at Only Watch 2021

Audemars Piguet, FPJ, H. Moser & Cie, and Zenith achieve record breaking results at Only Watch 2021

Zach Blass

Luxury watches can command exorbitant price tags at charity auctions and when piece uniques are on the table, the bidding wars inevitably heat up. We saw this recently during the Pink Dial Project auction, which Time+Tide was proud to be a partner of, and the trend continued at Only Watch, one of the largest recurring charitable auctions. Only Watch, a biennial auction (hosted in partnership with Christie’s) consists of one-off piece uniques from many brands that are sold to raise money for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – a cause near and dear to the heart of founder Prince Albert II of Monaco. But Only Watch 2021 proved to be the biggest yet, raking in the phenomenal result of $32.1 million USD (99% of which goes directly to research partners). With such a high result, it should be no surprise that many brands set personal best records for their pieces at auction. Let’s take a look at some of the timepieces that did.

Only Watch 2021

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin Only Watch 2021

The fact that this is the last year for the ref. 15202 Jumbo as we know it means that collectors are that much more eager to add one to their collections. Factor in the fact this is a piece unique (the last unique Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-Thin to be present at auction), with some serious new developments, and you have a recipe for a record-breaking “Jumbo” Extra-Thin at auction. The titanium case and bracelet has a clean sandblasted finish not typically found on Royal Oak watches, with familiar polished bevels and intermediary links to maintain the beloved design framework the Royal Oak has built its name on. But the bezel incorporates some serious R&D, debuting a polished palladium-based Bulk Metallic Glass bezel that will not scratch under normal daily wear. Only time will tell how this material will be used in models moving forward, but for now it could only be found at Only Watch 2021 from this unique lot.

Price realised: CHF 3,100,000

F.P. Journe x Francis Ford Coppola FFC Blue

To play off of a signature quote from the film Zoolander, F.P. Journe watches are so hot right now. Of course, a piece unique from the brand will attract some heavy-hitting bidders, but rarity aside, this watch presents a unique interpretation of time telling as well.

F.P. Journe explains: “This watch was born in 2012 while having dinner at Francis Ford Coppola’s house in the Napa Valley. He asked me if it could be possible to tell time with a hand in a watch. I replied that the idea was interesting and required thinking about. But how to display 12 hours with five fingers? It was not an easy matter and this complex challenge inspired and motivated me. Once I figured it out, Francis immediately sent the sketches for the fingers positions. After more than two years, I could finally focus on ‘Fecit’. After seven years of development, I am proud to present the FFC prototype”.

As you can see from the diagram above, Journe tirelessly developed an instantaneous digital hour display system. When I say digital, I do not mean using numeral digits. Ingeniously Journe figured out how to use the digits of our hands – fingers. While an unusual manner to display the time, it is really neat to be able to say you own a watch inspired by a dinner conversation with  Francis Ford Coppola and developed by legendary watchmaker F.P. Journe.

Price realised: CHF 4,500,000

H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon Only Watch 2021

Only Watch 2021

If I had to pick two brands to team up on a design, I don’t think there would be a better pairing than H. Moser & Cie and MB&F. Moser is known for incredibly clean designs, a perfect example being the recent Streamliner Perpetual Calendar that debuted at Geneva Watch Days a few months back. Meanwhile MB&F is primarily known for pushing the boundaries of design, both internally and externally, in turn creating some of the most complicated watches on the market today. Here lies the yin and yang of the pairing, where clean meets complicated. Both brands do have distinct design codes as well, allowing the resulting collaboration to remain as equally out of the box as their individual creations.

Only Watch 2021

The H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon Only Watch 2021, developed in partnership with MB&F, leverages the fresh and gorgeous Streamliner case and bracelet and its exquisite lines and Moser staple vantablack dial base to serve as the backdrop for the movement (developed in collaboration with MB&F for a special edition launched in 2020) and its one-minute flying tourbillon equipped with a cylindrical hairspring (developed and produced by Precision Engineering AG, H. Moser & Cie.’s sister company). The hours and minutes sub-dial at the 6′ position is tilted at a 40 degree angle to make the indication easily readable for the wearer, as well as create an intriguing aesthetic. A short concluding note for this killer watch, it retains the standard water-resistance found on other Streamliner models. So this crazy cool and complicated timepiece has a case (notably with its crown on the left side versus the right) that is 120 metres water-resistant, providing über daily-wearer appeal that the bidders clearly noticed.

Price realised: CHF 750,000

Zenith x Felipe Pantone, Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone – Unique Piece for Only Watch 2021

Only Watch 2021

Zenith is not typically known for setting records at auction, but the brand has a devout following that appreciates how they simultaneously develop future-forward timepieces while also making pieces that leverage their rich heritage and back catalogue of designs. The Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone Unique Piece for Only Watch 2021 is a souped-up version of the Felipe Pantone limited edition introduced earlier this year, this time around utilising a 46mm case entirely fashioned in scratch-resistant sapphire. It is a very groovy and complicated timepiece, with an openworked dial finished with rainbow PVD-coated bridges and hours and minutes hands along with rainbow-varnished hour indices. Inside you have an El Primero 9020 movement, a complicated take on the legendary chronograph caliber that incorporates a double tourbillon complication. It is a clear flex of Zenith’s horological might, and one that clearly caught the notice of a collector whose final bid nearly doubled the brand’s personal record at auction (previously set at CHF 250,000 at Phillips Geneva Watch Auction X with a unique El Primero watch made in platinum).

Price realised: CHF 480,000