UPDATE: The Only Watch auction results are in, with a grand total of 4,500,000 Euros ($6,078,000 USD). With $10 million USD raised over the last three auctions, this year doubled the average raised for charity! I have added the final auction prices for each watch below:
Today, the fourth “Only Watch” charity auction will take place in Monaco. If you haven’t heard of this charity auction that takes place every two years during the annual Monaco Yacht Show, you obviously need to spend more time yachting around the French Riviera.
This charity auction goes to benefit AMM (Association of Muscular Dystrophies) and was launched by AMM president Luc Pettavino with the help of Prince Albert II of Monaco. Muscular dystrophy is a rare genetic illness that affects one in 3500 boys. This illness gets progressively serious by debilitating the muscles until lung and cardiac complications can kill by the onset of adulthood.
To fund research and treatment of this terrible condition, the world’s best watchmakers are invited to craft a one-of-a-kind watch to be auctioned. From the previous three auctions, over $10 million was raised from the sale of only 104 watches; that’s almost a $100k per watch. The world’s top horologists have rallied again this year to showcase their artistic creativity, high technology, dedicated craftsmanship and philanthropy. It great to see a relatively small group of people raise so much for a condition that affects so many young boys. Instead of the legwork of regular fund raising, these luxury watches attract the mega-wealthy and the charity aspect just adds to the appeal. The result is raising a few million in just one weekend.
For 2011, they have stepped it up, with many watch models costing in the 6-figure range before they were even made for this event. There are 40 watches total this year, which are all sights to behold, but I’ve narrowed it down to the 12 most unique and imaginative to share with you.
Urwerk UR-103 “Phoenix”
Sold for: 55,000€ ($74,319 USD)
This piece is the last of the Urwerk UR-103 collection and features a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Described as more a talisman than a watch by its maker, it uses three satellites that orbit through showing the hour while they count the minutes along the bottom.
Vulcain Anniversary Heart Watch
Sold for: 11,000€ ($14,863 USD)
More than just a watch that makes you dizzy to look at, the Vulcain name is rare in itself seeing as the 150 year old Swiss watchmaker has no distribution within the United States. This brand’s secret claim-to-fame is being the “President’s watch”. Starting with Harry S. Truman, every American President has owned one… Illuminati conspiracies anyone?
Franck Muller “Totally Switzerland”
Sold for: 44,000€ ($59,431 USD)
Another dizzying watch, this is a one-off addition of the Franck Muller “Crazy Hours” watch series that features the colors of the Swiss flag.Watch the video below to see how it actually works:
Tag Heuer Monaco Mikropgraph
Sold for: 44,000€ ($59,431 USD)
This watch was designed to show-off Tag Heuer’s racing heritage. It’s engine-like appearance features their new “Mikrograph” movement, which is the first capable of 1/100th of a second accuracy.
Van Cleef & Arpels “From the Earth to the Moon”
Sold for: 215,000€ ($290,375 USD)
This colourful space themed watch is crafted through inlays of enamel, jade, agate and meteorite. The rocket ship on the right counts the minutes and when it gets to 60, it launches back to zero. The star tracks the hours on the left side of the watch.
MB&F HM-4 Panda
Sold for: 170,000€ ($229,510 USD)
This HM-4 “Thunderbolt” watch is an aviation-inspired piece, with little jet turbines that show the time and power reserve. All of the 150 the titanium parts were specific to this design to allow for a working vertical gear system. Note the uniquely laid-out HM-4 is available to buy. This one-off edition happens to have a panda bear riding it (Crafted by renowned artist Huang Hankang)
Bell & Ross “Casino”
Sold for: 18,000€ ($24,293 USD)
With Monaco’s Monte Carlo Casino being the inspiration, Bell & Ross have created the tackiest, but admittedly most appropriate, watch of the auction. This pink gold watch uses the “0” on the roulette wheel to show the hour and the roulette ball indicates the minutes.
Bernhard Lederer Gagarin Tourbillon
Sold for: 300,000€ ($404,847 USD)
This watch was created for the 50th anniversary of Russian astronaut Yuvi Gagarin’s flight into space, making him the first non-monkey to do so. The design was inspired by a Russian Vostok Space Capsule. Inspired by a statue of Gagarin in Russia, the tourbillon is suspended by a sweeping bridge. The small magnifying glass rotates around the watch giving you the opportunity to appreciate the fine details and 35 jewels. There were only 50 made, with one going to the Only Watch auction.
Celcius X VI II
Sold for: 75,000€ ($101,219 USD)
This strange watch was designed after a flip-style cell phone. The hour and minute hands are in the bigger face, with the date in the red circle display. The case is made from PVD treated titanium, quartz fiber and rubber. Inside it has old-school cell phone buttons and a fiber optic display. It also comes with a range of custom cell phone-style accessories, including a charging dock, a holster, necklace and a special mechanical box to store it in.
Sold for: 62,000€ ($83,674 USD)
Taking three years to make with over 400 components, this watch shows much more than the time. It is the only watch in the world that can detect the exact position of the moon using the gold moon-like sphere in the face. The only person I could see using this feature is Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson to make sure he doesn’t backup his Spaceship Two into the moon.
Bovet 7 Days Tourbillon “Dragon and Phoenix”
Sold for: 70,000€ ($94,431 USD)
This rose gold pocket watch took 100 hours to engrave and finish every detail and design. The finished work displays a phoenix and a dragon, the Chinese mythological animals that represent luck, wisdom, prosperity and immortality. They are also pets that only the ultra-rich can afford. It can also be turned into a table clock and uses two dials to tell the time – one in the front and a smaller one in the back. That way you can see the time on both sides, avoiding the embarrassment of pulling it out from your pocket and having no idea which side to look at.
Richard Mille RM027 Tourbillon
Sold for: 510,000€ ($687,944 USD)
Richard Mille’s RM027 is a well known watch in the world of horology, and was famously made for tennis champ Rafael Nadal. Nadal actually wears the watch while he plays tournaments, unlike other tennis ambassadors for luxury watch brands. The watch doesn’t affect his play, it maybe even improves it due to its high-tech construction (it doesn’t). It includes a tourbillon for extreme accuracy despite all the running around and winning he has to do with that pesky gravitational force getting in the way. The case is crafted from carbon-composite, titanium and a trademarked lithium alloy called LITAL, which consists of aluminum, copper, magnesium and zirconium. The strap is also made from polycarbonate, which is super light, nearly unbreakable and commonly found in bulletproof windows. This is the stuff that they make spaceships and satellites out of, making the watch ultra-strong and ultra-light at only 20 grams. It’s so light it can actually float on water.
Nadal personally donated this watch right off his wrist. After winning the Monte Carlo Championships in Monaco earlier this year, he met a boy spectator with muscular dystrophy and decided he’d pass it on to the upcoming charity. There were only 50 Richard Mille RM027 made and are still available through Luxury Bazaar for anyone not in Monaco today.
No matter what happens today at the Only Watch event, the kids with muscular dystrophy win. After having a look at what’s up for auction, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will be the best year the charity auction has seen. If you happen to be yachting the French Riviera while reading this, why not swing by the Monaco yacht Show and make a bid. You will be helping out a great cause, grabbing an one-of-a-kind piece of mechanical art and of course, tax breaks!
If you enjoyed this spectacular selection from the Only Watch Auction, check out our post on Exotic Luxury Watches for 2011