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The Only Watch 2017 auction, Monaco The Only Watch 2017 auction, Monaco Photo: Modern Luxury

The recent Only Watch charity auction in Monaco, for which 49 brands donated one-of-a-kind timepieces, raised nearly $11 million (CHF 10,776,500, to be precise) for the Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies, an organization that devotes its resources to research against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A biennial event, the Only Watch auction inspires unique versions of already exceptional timepieces — catnip for watch collectors, who pushed the bids into the stratosphere. To cite just one example, the Tudor Black Bay Bronze One had an estimate of CHF 4,500 – CHF 5,500, but sold for CHF (Swiss Francs) 350,000 (About $352,000)! Not every piece outstripped its estimate so dramatically, but the overall results suggest that the market for unique pieces — especially when the results are going to a good cause — is all but insatiable.

Tudor Black Bay Bronze One A Tudor Black Bay Bronze One went for 350,000 Swiss Francs at the Only Watch 2017 auction in Monaco. Photo: Modern Luxury

Patek Philippe made the biggest news at the sale, garnering a winning bid of CHF 6,200,000, approximately six times its estimate. Created specifically for Only Watch, Reference 5208T-010 combines a chronograph, minute repeater and perpetual calendar, but its true claim to fame is its case in titanium, a material very rarely used at Patek Philippe. The watch on the auction block, according to Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe CEO, will be destroyed, and a pristine, untouched version will be produced for the winner.

Patek Philippe Reference 5208T-010 The winning bidder will get a newly-made Patek Philippe Reference 5208T-010. Photo: Modern Luxury

Another exceptionally coveted timepiece at the auction was the F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante Bleu. The movement within is completely unique: after taking a year to perfect, it will not be used again in F.P. Journe’s production. The tantalum case, blue chrome dial and 18-karat rose gold chronograph column wheels also speak to the exceptional nature of this model.

 F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante Bleu Coveted: An F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante Bleu Photo: Modern Luxury

Many models came with an extra treat for the winning bidder. In addition to Patek Philippe’s “Experience,” which includes a visit to the brand’s museum, a tour of its workshops and a private lunch with Thierry Stern, brands offered visits to their watchmaking ateliers, the chance to meet CEOs or brand ambassadors, and more. Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt Pushing limits: The Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt Photo: Modern Luxury

Hublot created a Big Bang Unico Sapphire Usain Bolt with an underlying theme of “pushing limits” — the groundbreaking, completely transparent sapphire case paired with Bolt’s signature gold tone makes the watch itself a piece of art, but the winning bidder will also have the opportunity to meet the “fastest man in the world” himself.​

The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 for Only Watch boasts accents in Only Watch’s signature bright yellow, and will be one of the very first Defy El Primero 21 models to hit the market, in addition to proffering an invitation to Zenith’s watchmaking facilities in Le Locle, Switzerland.

The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 for Only Watch The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 for Only Watch boasts accents in Only Watch’s signature bright yellow. Photo: Modern Luxury

The Chanel J12 XS, the rare women’s watch in the auction, came mounted on a black calfskin cuff, hand-embroidered by Maison Lesage with black glass beads and silver calfskin piping. It also came with entrée into Chanel’s prêt-à-porter runway show at Paris Fashion Week next spring.

The Chanel J12 XS The Chanel J12 XS, the rare women’s watch in the auction, came mounted on a black calfskin cuff, hand-embroidered by Maison Lesage with black glass beads and silver calfskin piping. Photo: Modern Luxury