Only Watch 2023: Tracking the best

From marble and wine-inspired timepieces to Louis Vuitton’s brand of whimsy, here’s a list of the coolest lots at the most anticipated watch auction, in November

Updated - July 11, 2023 01:20 pm IST

Published - July 07, 2023 07:57 pm IST

(Left to right) Angelus Chronodate Gold, Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble, Jacob & Co x Concepto Watch Factory

(Left to right) Angelus Chronodate Gold, Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble, Jacob & Co x Concepto Watch Factory | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

There are enough celebrity sightings daily on social media to hook the watch lover. When we zoom into David Beckham’s gold dive watch (Tudor Black Bay 58) as he aces the summer look in his Wimbledon Royal Box seat. Or note Tom Cruise’s rectangular Cartier Santos de Cartier and Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin, both old favourites, on his latest ‘Mission: Impossible’ press tour. Or Max Verstappen’s custom TAG Heuer Monaco at the Austrian Grand Prix podium. But if it is eccentric meters d’art dials, a whole lot of daring and world records for watch prices that one is after, nothing serves like the Only Watch line-up.

This year’s edition of the most anticipated watch auction worldwide, scheduled for November 5 in Geneva, has its share of quirk from the 73 watchmakers and brands participating. Take Swiss brand Angelus, known for its groundbreaking mid-century chronographs, which has roped in Château Angelus, an exceptional wine from the Bordeaux terroir. The dial of the Chronodate Gold x Château Angelus is made from freeze-dried lees from the 2022 vintage, the powdered wine giving the dial both texture and colour. It is certainly posher, though, at present an estimate of CHF 50,000 to 60,000 (approximately ₹46 lakh to ₹55 lakh), cheaper than H. Moser’s Swiss Mad Watch made of real Swiss cheese back in 2017.

Also Read | Luxury watch trends to track in 2023

Some of the 62 unique mechanical timepieces to be auctioned to advance medical research in Duchenne muscular dystrophy come with experiences too. The Angelus collaboration includes a prestigious “Impériale” from the 2012 vintage, a few bottles of the Château’s rare Grand Vin Blanc, and an invitation to the Château in Saint-Émilion. Meanwhile, Roman jeweller Bulgari sweetens its lot with a one-night stay at its newest hotel in Rome. And TAG Heuer’s winner will join the brand at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix in May 2024. The biennial fundraiser also has a famous rodent checking in. Collectors will battle it out for the resuscitated Gerald Genta brand’s Only Watch edition, its first, to mark Disney’s 100th anniversary. The champlevé enamel dial features Mickey Mouse holding a birthday cake.

Of course, not all the lots have been fully revealed — the H. Moser x MB&F Streamliner Pandamonium teaser promises an artistic performance led by a miniature DJ panda. Watch aficionados are also speculating over what Patek will bring to the table to mark the 85th birthday of Philippe Stern. As London-based collector and social media director at Standard Chartered, Mohamed Muraj, puts it, “This is an interesting platform for manufacturers to flex, to illustrate what is possible in the world of watchmaking.’’ Among those that caught his eye are the F.P. Journe and Konstantin Chaykin’s lots. Here are a few from our list:

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bulgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble

The Octo Finissimo’s case, composed of 110 facets, is clad in marble or Verde di Alpi. Even the dial and bracelet feature marble. This green marble comes from the Aosta Valley, which links Switzerland and Italy through the Alps. At 6 o’clock, the marble reveals the flying tourbillon of the BVL 268, the world’s thinnest manually-wound flying tourbillon.

Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata

A playful tribute to the famous physicist, the timepiece recreates one of his most popular pictures in hand-engraved relief. The math formula chalkboard scribbles and LV’s adaptation of his famous E=mc2 formula for energy are other winning features but the most striking is how his face appears to change expressions when the automata complication is activated.

Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata

Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

Said to be their hottest Monaco yet, featuring a mechanical split-seconds chronograph with a brand-new movement. The new variation of titanium used, what they call ‘Texturised Titanium’ is responsible for a crystalised effect and enhanced surface hardness.

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph

TAG Heuer Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen Carbo2

The Maison has been sharing Zero Oxygen teasers for a while now, in anticipation of a new collection in April 2024. The Only Watch edition has a new middle case material with captured CO2 inside. This is a tribute to explorers and adventurers working in harsh environments, says the brand, with the ‘0 oxygen’ inside the case eliminating fogging and oxidation. Need some drama? Record-breaking alpinist Nimsdai Purja, who ascended Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen for a collaboration with Montblanc last year, has donated his ice pick. A personal note from him and the watch is encased in a zero-oxygen ice-like capsule. To access the watch, the winning bidder will need Purja’s ice pick to break the case.

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen Carbo2

Montblanc 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen Carbo2 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hermès Arceau Le temps Voyageur

With its platinum and titanium case, the timepiece has a unique reading of the world’s hours — as the gravitational counter travels across the continents, the face of the watch changes and opens up other dimensions. The satellite gravitates on an imaginary map created by Jérôme Colliard for the Planisphere d’un monde équestre silk scarf.

Hermès Arceau Le temps Voyageur

Hermès Arceau Le temps Voyageur | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

JC Biver’s Catharsis

JC Biver’s Catharsis

JC Biver’s Catharsis | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The piece combines unusual handcrafts, with unique techniques for invisible gem-setting, stone marquetry and guilloché. What stands out is the absence of hands as an unusual minute repeater presents a moon over a restless sea, the starry sky made of meteorite, silver obsidian and opal. Industry veteran Jean-Claude Biver made headlines when the prototype of this minute repeater, with a tourbillon and micro-rotor, was sold for the record price of CHF 1.27 million (approximately ₹11.7 crore) by Phillips in Geneva on May 15, 2023.

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hublot MP-15 Takashi Murakami Tourbillon

Hublot and Takashi Murakami have been collaborating since 2020. But the Only Watch edition takes the Japanese contemporary artist’s iconic smiling flower to the next level. For Hublot’s first-ever central tourbillon model, Murakami’s gem-encrusted flower is freed from the traditionally-shaped case to become the case itself. While Only Watch 2023’s rainbow theme is seen in the 12 large petals of the daisy, and in the hour markers, don’t miss the laser engraving of the smiling eyes and mouth under the domed sapphire crystal. Murakami recently took to Instagram to confess that his company almost went bankrupt in 2020 but that he now has expansion plans. This unique timepiece and a recent collaboration with American rapper Pharrell Williams prove yet again that his “anime-infused brain”, as he calls it, is in peak form.

Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty

Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty

Piaget Polo Skeleton Arty | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Piaget’s entry in Only Watch’s 10th edition has an open-worked dial, which houses the ultra-thin 1200S1 skeleton movement. Its green, blue and rose gold colour way and design pay tribute to Hungarian-French artist, Victor Vasarely, whose 1979 artwork Hexa Grace is displayed on the roof of the Monaco Convention Center.

The watches will embark on a world tour beginning on September 6 in Los Angeles before moving on to New York, Singapore, Dubai, etc. Details at www.onlywatch.com

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.