Every two years, the horologically-inclined among us eagerly anticipate OnlyWatch, the exclusive charity auction dedicated to showcasing exceptional timepieces crafted by the finest watchmakers around the world. With the 2023 edition just around the corner, collectors, enthusiasts, philanthropists and the watchmaking world alike are brimming with excitement as they prepare to enjoy the biennial event’s extravagance, exclusivity and extraordinary creations that push the boundaries of innovation and design.
Not merely a celebration of horological excellence; OnlyWatch is a philanthropic endeavour at its core. The auction's proceeds go towards funding research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a debilitating genetic disorder. Through the collective efforts of watchmakers, collectors, and bidders, OnlyWatch has been instrumental in supporting scientific advancements and making a significant difference in the lives of those affected through hundreds of millions of dollars since its first auction in 2005.
As anticipation builds for this year's event, we take a closer look at five standout timepieces that have caught our attention. These exceptional creations showcase the convergence of artistry, craftsmanship, and technical mastery. From iconic brands to rising stars in the watchmaking realm, these picks epitomize the spirit of OnlyWatch and exemplify the extraordinary contributions of the horology community towards a noble cause. While it was hard to whittle down the 62 entries, from 73 watchmakers, into just 5, we’ve done our best to include this year’s hottest lots.
BVLGARI Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble
The watch kicking off our list shouldn’t be a surprise, we love all things marble, as our Watch Stands should tell you, and so the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble is the first on our list. Standing as a remarkable achievement in ultra-thin watchmaking, the Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble features a record-breaking 1.95mm thin movement, which is the slimmest flying tourbillon since 2013. Crafted as a one-of-a-kind piece for OnlyWatch 2023, this timepiece showcases Bvlgari's commitment to innovation and stylistic freedom.
Drawing inspiration from ancient Roman architecture, where marble symbolized history and glory, its green marble-topped construction originates from the Aosta Valley, symbolizing abundance and energy, with its white veins mimicking alpine forests and snowy peaks. Bvlgari's choice of Verde di Alpi marble connects it to the brand's own history, as it was used in the iconic Bvlgari store's refurbishment in 1934.
The Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Tourbillon Marble beautifully merges craftsmanship, innovation, and natural beauty. It serves as a testament to Bvlgari's precision and aesthetics while supporting the noble cause of OnlyWatch. Boasting a DLC titanium construction, Bvlgari have applied a layer of 0.4mm of Verde di Alpi green marble across its entire bracelet and a 0.5mm layer on its case. A first for the industry, this exceptional timepiece encapsulates the essence of horological mastery in a concise and unforgettable manner and highlights the stunning beauty found within natural marble, something we have endeavoured to do with our very own watch stands.
CZAPEK "Place Vendôme Complicité – Courage Every Second"
The Czapek "Complicité" timepiece secures its place as the second pick on our list due to its exceptional craftsmanship and the captivating story behind its creation. At its core, this unique watch showcases Czapek's reinterpretation of a double escapement combination, a rare feature in wristwatches that was originally conceived in 1830. The beauty of the concept lies in the placement of the escapements at 4.30 and 7.30, connected to a central differential at 12 o'clock, all visible on the dial side. However, finding a watchmaking partner capable of respecting this intricate architecture proved challenging until a serendipitous encounter between Xavier, CEO of Czapek, and Bernhard Lederer, sparked a collaboration rooted in friendship and shared passion.
Their resulting collaboration, named "Complicité," gave birth to a timepiece that defies convention and demonstrates the remarkable synergy between product design and watchmaking expertise. The Only Watch piece was conceptualized even before finalizing the designs for the production models of the Place Vendôme collection, making it a truly one-of-a-kind creation.Encased in steel, this timepiece features a dial adorned with a multi-coloured 'champlevé' enamel ring that elegantly incorporates the colors of Only Watch 2023. This artistic touch adds a unique aesthetic dimension to the watch, further enhancing its exclusivity. The Czapek "Complicité" stands as a testament to the brand's commitment to innovation and collaboration, reflecting a deep respect for horological traditions while pushing boundaries. With its remarkable craftsmanship and captivating narrative, this timepiece captures the imagination of watch enthusiasts and secures its deserving spot on our list.
GRONEFELD "1941 Principia Mandala"
Securing the third spot on our list is the Grönefeld 1941 Principia Mandala, a timepiece that captivates with its exceptional craftsmanship and artistic beauty. Bart and Tim Grönefeld, renowned watchmakers, took a bold step by incorporating a hinged hunter case back into the design of the 1941 Principia Mandala, a first for their brand. The case back, adorned with an engraving featuring the images of Bart, Tim, and their father Sjef, adds a personal touch and a sense of heritage to this exceptional timepiece.
Made of stainless steel and measuring 39.5mm, the 1941 Principia Mandala is a comfortably wearable piece that focuses its energy on creating a unique experience on the wrist through the use of colour and vibrancy. Simply put, the 1941 Principia Mandala’s dial is the true masterpiece, with it showcasing a vibrant and intricate mandala design inspired by Only Watch’s colourful 10th anniversary logo. The mandala, symbolizing the universe in its ideal form, carries the transformative power to turn suffering into joy. The dial features highly polished hour markers, meticulously crafted to ensure perfection. Creating this unique dial was a meticulous process, involving the combination of 60 base dials to achieve a flawless final result. It took the expertise of 16 clichés, each representing a different color, to bring the mandala design to life.
In its entirety, the Grönefeld 1941 Principia Mandala exudes a harmonious blend of artistic beauty, horological precision and Gronefeld’s own heritage as a watchmaker. The colorful mandala dial adds an enchanting vibrancy to the watch, making it a truly captivating accessory for the discerning collector turned philanthropist. With its impeccable craftsmanship and distinctive design, the Grönefeld Principia Mandala unquestionably deserves its place among the standout timepieces of Only Watch 2023, and so we’ve got to have it on our list.
KRAYON "Krayon Anywhere Only Watch 2023"
The Krayon Anywhere Only Watch 2023 earns its well-deserved place as the fourth pick on our list thanks to how it beautifully marries technical innovation with artistic brilliance. Krayon, known for its remarkable complications, presents a unique creation that allows the wearer to determine the exact time of sunrise or sunset at any chosen location worldwide.
In homage to nature, Krayon has crafted the Anywhere Only Watch 2023 in titanium, marking a first for the brand. Building upon their expertise in miniature painting showcased in the 2021 edition, Krayon takes inspiration from Théo van Rysselberghe's painting to explore the intricate technique of pointillism. The dial of this timepiece becomes a canvas, where skilled artisans employ meticulous brushstrokes to deposit miniscule amounts of paint, creating subtle reliefs and a rich palette of blue hues. The reflection of the sky on waves and the interplay of light caressing their surface give rise to contrasting effects that reveal countless sparkles.
Behind the captivating dial lies a masterfully engineered movement, a testament to the technical prowess of Krayon's founder, Rémi Maillat. The watch upholds time-honoured Swiss traditions while embodying artistic sensitivity, captivating connoisseurs and enthusiasts with its rare refinements. The Krayon Anywhere Only Watch 2023 exemplifies the harmonious fusion of horological mastery and artistic expression. It stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of Métiers d'Art, paying homage to the neo-impressionist movement and showcasing the extraordinary talent of the craftsmen involved. This exceptional timepiece is a celebration of Swiss tradition, innovation, and the sheer joy of experiencing nature's timeless wonders and rightfully deserves a place on our list thanks to its exceptional beauty. While some brands claim to be a racing machine on the wrist, the Krayon Anywhere Only Watch 2023 is a painting on the wrist that we would love to marvel at.
VOUTILAINEN "CSW Only Watch"
The Voutilainen CSW Only Watch rounds off our list with its exceptional craftsmanship and innovative features. This watch showcases a fully integrated world timer mechanism that can be easily operated by pressing the crown, allowing for effortless changes in time zones with one-hour increments. The sparkling green dial has been meticulously engine-turned by hand, as is Voutilainen’s specialty, which adds a touch of aesthetic elegance and visual vibrancy. Crafted from solid silver, the dial exudes a sense of luxury and refinement. The dial design features a center "trivague" pattern and a "24 division sunburst" underneath the hour markers, adding depth and visual interest to the timepiece.
Inspired by a pocket watch created by Kari and Venla Voutilainen for Only Watch in 2019, the Voutilainen CSW boasts an elegant cushion-shaped case, a first for the brand, made from titanium. The case's light satin finish and brightly polished surfaces lend a contemporary and sophisticated appeal and its dimensions are thoughtfully adjusted for optimal wearing comfort, with short, curved lugs ensuring a secure and comfortable fit on the wrist.
Powering this exceptional timepiece is a completely new movement evolving from the brand’s previous Vingt-8 caliber. While maintaining the same thickness, this new construction allows for the creation of circular disks within the same volume as the previous caliber and a generous power reserve which ensuring reliable and accurate timekeeping for 60 hours. With its remarkable design, innovative world timer mechanism, and superb craftsmanship, the Voutilainen CSW Only Watch showcases the brand's commitment to excellence and their ability to create truly exceptional timepieces. It stands as a remarkable addition to the collection and a standout entry for Only Watch 2023 that we couldn’t help but to include in our top 5 picks of this year’s entries.