Why independent brands were the big winners of Only Watch 2024 Why independent brands were the big winners of Only Watch 2024

Why independent brands were the big winners of Only Watch 2024

Jamie Weiss

We finally got there. Late last week, the 10th edition of the much-anticipated Only Watch charity auction – which was originally set to take place in November last year but was postponed after uncertainty around the charity came to light – finally took place, with 47 lots donated by 52 brands going under the hammer, ultimately raising CHF 28.3 million for research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

It’s great to see so much money raised for charity, and while we will leave the discussion around the financials to others, we love to see the creativity shown in the watches produced for the auction. Personally, I think it’s really interesting to see how much some watches from independent brands ended up going for, with a lot of love shown for small indies in particular.

only watch 2024 result

The standout result that looms large in my mind was Furlan Marri’s Secular Perpetual Calendar, produced in collaboration with Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier, which sold for CHF 130,000 against an estimate of CHF 20,000 to 30,000. That’s over 6 times its low estimate and over 4 times its high estimate, which is a spectacular endorsement of what Andrea, Hamad and their team have achieved and reflects Furlan Marri’s insane momentum. This is a brand that’s now had billboards on Times Square and viral posters around Geneva – it’s awesome stuff to see.

Furlan Marri Secular Perpetual Calendar closeup

Another brand we’re proud to be close with that also achieved a great result at Only Watch 2024 is Baltic, whose Premier Quantième Perpétuel developed in collaboration with Maclef and released under the “Baltic Experiments” sub-line sold for CHF 55,000, also against an estimate of CHF 20,000 – 30,000. This tells us that collectors take these two independents seriously and are keen to see higher complications from these brands. While these two pieces may be out of reach for many of us, those of you who were lucky enough to order one of our limited edition collaborations with Furlan Marri and Baltic at the start of this year will be pleased to know that shipments will be beginning soon.

Baltic Premier Quantième Perpétuel

Other standouts include Grönefeld (CHF 140,000, estimate CHF 30,000 – 50,000),  Krayon (CHF 440,000, estimate CHF 150,000 – 200,000), Sylvain Pinaud (CHF 220,000, estimate 70,000 – 100,000), Konstantin Chaykin (CHF 110,000, estimate CHF 30,000 – 50,000) and Kari Voutilainen (CHF 450,000, estimate CHF 175,000 – 215,000) – all independents who either came close to or more than tripled their estimates.

krayon kari

Of course, the two most dramatic results of Only Watch 2024 were also achieved by independent watch brands – although these brands are far more established than the others on this list. Patek Philippe’s contribution, the ref. 6301A-010, fetched CHF 15.7 million: almost 9 times the high estimate of CHF 1.8 million, accounting for more than half of all the money raised by the auction alone. I called it! But I don’t think I deserve a prize; Patek has always attracted ridiculous figures for its Only Watch pieces.

journe patek only watch 2024

Only Watch darling F.P. Journe also achieved an impressive result, with its Chronomètre Furtif Bleu Only Watch hammering for CHF 2 million against an estimate of CHF 200,000 – 400,000. Journe has long since eclipsed being a small independent, so as impressive as that result is, it doesn’t hit quite as hard as a brand like Furlan Marri – which began on Kickstarter – going for over 4 times its high estimate, in my opinion.

Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Antimagnétique

However, one watchmaker who is very much now a part of the Journe and Dufour conversation achieved a truly spectacular figure at Only Watch 2024 was Rexhep Rexhepi. His Chronomètre Antimagnétique went for CHF 2.1 million, which is a whopping 14 times its high estimate of CHF 100,000 – 150,000. While he is still many years younger than the most established independent watchmakers, his output, level of quality and die-hard fans are more than enough for Rexhepi to now be considered one of the most impressive watchmakers alive – and with auction results like this, it’s hard to argue.

While it’s difficult to quantify the final numbers from Only Watch, given that it’s a charity auction, it is clear that statements of confidence are being made about certain brands and watchmakers that we would not have expected just a couple of years ago. With young names starting to sell for six figures at the biggest stage, it’s great to see this recognition for what is being done by guys such as Baltic and Furlan Marri. When they are able to rub shoulders with some of the biggest brands in the industry and still attract such attention, who knows where the limit lies for these young, energetic marques.