Dizzy Fun Watches

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 19, 2017.
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For its seventh edition, the Christie’s-hosted Only Watch charity auction has procured 50 lots of exceptional merit from some of the most important names in watchmaking. All profits from sales, which commence online and in Geneva on Nov 11, go to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

The auction and 10-city watch tour, currently underway, both receive patronage from HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, and the globe-travelling event commenced at the Monaco Yacht Club. Estimates for the wristwatches range from US$4,600 (RM19,412) to more than US$1 million, with value derived from the timepieces’ sheer rarity and to unique, exciting experiences that are being packaged with some of them. Whether it’s the introduction of a vibrant new material, technical complications, or uncommon variations (such as a left-handed model), these 18 selections are ones for collectors to watch. — Bloomberg



Louis Vuitton Escale Spin Time Black & Fire

Defined by its red, orange and yellow colourway, the “Black & Fire” Escale Spin Time conveys time through a dial of 12 hand-painted cubes from La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton (and a smaller interior dial of minute indicators). Along with the timepiece, Louis Vuitton is also offering a tour of its historic Asnieres workshop and lunch at the Louis Vuitton family house with master watchmaker Michel Navas.

Estimate: US$52,000 (RM219,440) to US$83,000


Patek Philippe Reference 5208T-010

Rarely does one find a self-winding mechanism in an ultra-complicated watch featuring a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar and a mono pusher chronograph. Here, Patek Philippe has done it — and, for the first time, in titanium, making this a one-of-a-kind reference. From the blue hand-guilloched carbon-fibre dial to the sapphire-crystal display back, aesthetic nuance defines the piece. Winning the lot also means a visit to the brand’s workshop and a private lunch with Patek’s president Thierry Stern.

Estimates: US$932,000 (RM3.93 million) to US$1.14 million


Laurent Ferrier & Urwerk

From its wandering hours to the unconventional case shape, this collaborative watch carries the hallmarks of the two brands behind it. While the avant-garde stylings of Urwerk might appear most evident, the refined finishing alludes to Lauren Ferrier.  The case has been crafted from an Arpal+ alloy that was developed specifically for this self-winding watch.

Estimates: US$52,000 (RM219,440) to US$72,000


Bell & Ross BR-X1 RS17 Only Watch

There’s much at play within this square Carbone Forge and ceramic case — including an X-shaped upper bridge and skeletonised chronograph movement. Bell & Ross’s distinct design DNA gets a bright boost from the colours of the Renault Sport Formula One (F1) Team, which partnered on the watch. The highest bidder will also join the Renault Sport F1 Team during their last race in the championships taking place in Abu Dhabi.

Estimates: US$23,000 (RM97,060) to US$29,000


Breguet Classique Quantieme Perpeturel en Ligne

One of the most elegant lots in the auction, Breguet’s Classique 7715 sports a silvered gold dial that’s been hand-engraved on a proprietary rose engine. Subdials and windows align in a vertical fashion, with patterning switching off with a polished finish. The self-winding perpetual calendar movement can be viewed through a sapphire crystal display back. An experience also accompanies the winning bid for the watch, including a private guided tour of Breguet’s Manufacture in Vallee de Joux, Switzerland.

Estimates: US$83,000 (RM350,260) to US$103,000


Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps (MCT) S200 Vantablack

A month-long collaboration with acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor, this S200 features a dial of high-tech Vantablack — the blackest material in the known universe, except for a black hole. This dial material absorbs 99.96% of light, giving the illusion that a central time-indicating mechanism is floating. It’s encapsulated in a DLC-coated gold case and further punctuated with one Vantablack hand. Within the unique watch, one finds MCT’s superb, 507-component, S2 automatic movement.

Estimate: US$72,000 (RM303, 840) to US$124,000


FP Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante

Those familiar with the work of haute-horological watchmaker Francois-Paul Journe understand his love of invention. With the Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante, everything comes as a surprise: The 18-carat, rose gold, FP Journe calibre 1517 “Monopusher split second chronograph” movement beating at the heart, a tantalum case in 44mm, and even the blue chrome dial. It is a manually winding piece featuring an 80-hour power reserve and offering substantial functionality.

Estimates: US$208,000 (RM877, 760) to US$415,000


Piaget Black Tie Vintage Watch

Anchoring a distinct Black Tie Vintage Watch case, a brown pietersite dial lends a contemporary art illusion to this distinctive piece. The hardstone dial remains unmarked by indicators, granting a refined and minimal aesthetic. The style hails back to the 1950s, but this piece reflects advancements in material machining. The back of the self-winding timepiece also carries an engraving: “Only Watch 2017 — Unique Piece.”

Estimates: US$31,000 (RM130,820) to US$52,000


Hautlence Pinball, Ball-e Mechanical Pinball

The Hautlence Pinball models are more about passing the time than keeping it. This particular iteration features a second “robot” face visible in darkness, thanks to a Superluminova coating. Crafted from Grade Five titanium (with DLC treatment), the Ball-e carries a minute repeated-regulation mechanism — no small feat of engineering. This isn’t a child’s game but a watch worthy of a collector.

Estimates: US$24,000 (RM101,280) to US$39,000


Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Off-Centered Cuprite

With a bold, red cuprite dial, Jaquet Droz has emboldened its iconic Grande Seconde reference — further disrupting the piece by laying the subdials off-centre. The challenging-to-tool cuprite material emboldens the 18K red-gold case. Inside, one of the brand’s proprietary self-winding movements powers the piece by way of an ornate, red-gold rotor.

Estimates: US$31,000 (RM130,820) to US$41,000


Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt for Only Watch

Even a quick glance at Hublot’s Only Watch edition reveals the rare, defining attribute: A sapphire crystal case. This is one of the most challenging materials to machine in watchmaking. A micro-blasted yellow-gold dial rests in stark contrast to its surroundings, punctuated with bright, green indicators. Along with the timepiece (and a signed Puma T-shirt), Hublot promises to organise a meet-and-greet between the highest bidder and the brand’s collaborator, sprinter Usain Bolt.

Estimates: US$52,000 (RM219,440) to $83,000