It’s that time again! Every two years the Only Watch auction brings a slew of unique creations into the watch world from your favorite watch brands, with proceeds of sale going to support research for Muscular Dystrophy. The 2019 auction is happening November 9th in Geneva, Switzerland.
At each auction new world records are hit, as these watches are the ultimate in rare, complicated, and unique creations. Of course, the vast majority of us don’t necessarily have the funds available to pull the trigger on a 1-of-1 Patek, Journe, or other creation heading to auction, but in several cases there are great watches out there that have a similar essence to them.
Only Watch Alternatives
They won’t have the same cachet as one of the auction pieces, but true watch collecting is about finding a watch that you love for what it is, not the hype behind it.
Breguet Type 20 — Zenith Chronometro Tipo CP2
The Breguet Type 20 has been around for some time now, but the brand gave it a substantial tweak for Only Watch, killing off its timing bezel and 6 o’clock subdial for a more traditional vintage flieger chrono vibe. Sure, you could opt for a standard Type XX, but we though that due to the more classic aesthetic of this Only Watch entrant we should select something equally “original” in design. The Zenith CP2 is a reissue of the Cairelli–a military and civilian issue pilot’s flyback chronograph commissioned by the Italian airforce back in the day. The reissue is very true to spec, and has a distinctly classic vintage vibe to it, much like this Breguet.
Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime — IWC Da Vinci Perpetual
Now this was an interesting one. The Patek is once again destined for the record books. After all, it’s an uber-complex Grandmaster Chime; this is a perpetual calendar grande sonnerie with multiple timezone display. And this is the only time it has been cased in stainless steel. The watch has no rival, nor does it have an easily attainable counterpart. That said, aesthetically it does run very close to the IWC Da Vinci line from a couple of generations back, and looking at the perpetual calendar from that line, they do kind of look like they were cut from the same cloth…
Audemars Piguet CODE 11:59 Tourbillon Openworked — Royal Oak Double Balance Openworked
I mean, this one is a no brainer, right? The Openworked CODE 11:59 is easily the most interesting of the brand’s new (and highly debated) collection, offering an epic view of the brand’s exceptional finishing capability. That said, if you’re going to have an Openworked AP, nothing beats the Royal Oak Double Balance. It’s a rockstar of a caliber in an icon of a case… You just can’t beat it.
Any Indie Unique Piece — MCT Sequential Two American Eagle
Each year at Only Watch there are some pretty special one-offs from the indie greats. This year we have entrants from Kari Voutilainen, from DeWitt, from Christophe Claret, from Romain Jerome, and most notably an EPIC collaboration between URWerk and De Bethune. Meanwhile, the sad fact is that some of these indie brands face depreciation, but in the pre-owned market that can work in your favor. Case in point, this unique piece Sequential Two American Eagle from MCT is in the shop for under $50k, and it’s the only one of its kind. The Sequential One and Two are incredibly unique, well finished, and brutally complicated pieces, and at that price you’re getting an absurd level of value out of that one.
Tudor Black Bay Ceramic One — Black Bay Dark
The last two Tudor Black Bay models to push through Only Watch have gone for huge and shocking figures for one key reason. They are the only watches from Rolex/Tudor to ever be officially marked/recorded as ‘unique pieces,’ and a handful of collectors believe that they are going to be immensely collectible for that simple fact. Will they be? Time will tell. This go around, Tudor is bringing an all-black ceramic case to the party, paired with a black dial, black hands, and black indices. Though the Black Bay Dark still has contrasting white luminous hands and markers, it’s definitely an affordable way to achieve a very similar vibe. Alternatively, if all black on black is your jam, the Bell & Ross BR01-94 Phantom would also be a good alternative on a budget.