As a physiology major in university, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy played a large part in our studies. A genetic disorder affecting mainly boys, its effect on growing children is devastating, as muscle membrane proteins are unable to repair effectively. Currently, gene therapy is undergoing trials in patients, and it has shown some promise in increasing muscle strength – however, there is still much work to be done in this field in order to develop new therapies for this affliction.
Every two years, the watch world together with the Association Monegasque contre les Myopathies, works on an auction where all proceeds go to funding research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy – as of early 2021, over 70 million Euro has been raised to benefit children afflicted by this disease. It is an opportunity for brands and independent watchmakers to put forward their wildest watches, ranging from prototypes, to altered colour schemes for familiar pieces, all the way to new movements and complications.
For someone who studied physiology, and has delved into the mechanisms of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, it is truly enlightening to see the watch world come together for such a noble cause. It is one of the rare times we see the industry so united, and we think there is no better cause than this for them to create these one-offs.
Our founder Adi Soon has written about his picks for Only Watch – here are my fantasy picks if I had the wallet to help raise money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Akrivia – Chronometre Contemporain II
A darling child of the independent watch scene, Rexhep Rexhepi begins a new chapter in his career with the Chronometre Contemporain II. Retaining the lauded classical aesthetics of the first version of his Chronometre Contemporain, the watch is built from the ground-up as an entirely new timepiece.
A dial with a two-stage production process of grand-feu enamel, followed by a translucent champagne-coloured flinque enamel graces the front of the watch.l The case, hewn from 950 Platinum respects traditional craftsmanship, and is produced in 14 parts by Jean-Pierre Hagmann – a boitier/casemaker by trade who has been lauded for his minute repeater cases, manufacturing for numerous brands in the past and is now working with Rexhepi. The “JHP” hallmark on the lugs signifies its provenance, and each of these lugs are individually soldered to the case.
Housed within its platinum case is a manually wound movement that is aesthetically similar to what was housed in the previous Chronometre Contemporain, however it now incorporates a dead-beat seconds mechanism, as well as being certified by the Besancon Observatory. This watch also includes an experience of visiting the Besancon Observatory – undoubtedly a package that represents fine watchmaking as a whole, in its craftsmanship and its history.
Blancpain – Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No-Rads
Proving to be incredibly popular amongst watch fans, the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms series of watches looks back into the archives, and revives key models that were instrumental in forming the evolution of the modern dive watch. At Only Watch 2021, the No-Rads has been brought back with orange-coloured accents on the dial and bezel to match with the theme of the auction – this can look like an attractive pumpkin-like patina, which vintage enthusiasts are sure to enjoy.
This version for this edition of Only Watch also removes the date window, cleaning up the dial and making it more symmetrical – this is, however, not how the original was presented, but will be sure to please those that love a cleaner aesthetic. The orange colour scheme extends down to the No-Rads symbol at 6 o’clock – instead of yellow and red, it is now orange and yellow. Powering this version of the watch is the Blancpain Calibre 1154, with a custom-engraved rotor commemorating Only Watch 2021.
Chopard – Alpine Eagle XL Chrono Only Watch
For fans of Switzerland, the Alpine Eagle XL Chrono Only Watch is the brand’s familiar sports watch, but with the addition of a natural Swiss granite stone dial from the Graubunden region of the country. Speckled with blue and green inclusions, the dial echoes the view of the Alpine region from the sky.
Naturally, in order to view the beauty of the stone dial, the sapphire crystal has the brand printed onto it. The 44mm case is made from Lucent Steel, the same as in the main line collections where a portion of the steel used is recycled – this steel is also harder than traditional 316L Stainless Steel used in many watches. Housed within the fantastic steel case is the Chopard 03.05-C movement, for which 3 patents are filed for the chronometer certified movement, and the watch is delivered on a calfskin strap with a titanium inlay.
Czapek – Antarctique Rattrapante “Sunrise”
ISOCHRONO are very much fans of this new release from Czapek, and we wrote about it extensively earlier this year. This version of the Antarctique features an orange colour that is CVD coated, done in partnership with Positive Coating.
The movement itself is also the fruit of a partnership – with Chronode, no less. The SHX6 movement displays the entire split seconds chronograph mechanism on the dial side, to display the beauty of its finishing, and the mechanical interactions each component plays when the chronograph is activated.
Housed in Stainless Steel, and measuring in at 42.5mm, the Antarctique Rattrapante “Sunrise” also features chronograph subdials and a minutes track in fume coated sapphire crystal – the minutes track also features a hidden message from 0-10 seconds – “Courage Every Second” – a message that is fitting for an auction that benefits Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
On the surface the entry from DeBethune and Kari Voutilainen represents a collision of worlds, with a stark juxtaposition of classic and modern watchmaking in one watch. In reality, the duo of Denis Flageollet and Kari Voutilainen is closer than one might think – they both had the same teacher when they attended watchmaking school, and hence, each side represents their vision of watchmaking.
Kari Voutilainen’s side of the watch continues his very classical interpretation of watch dials, with multiple forms of guilloche visible on the dial, and heavily stylised Breguet-esque hands. Denis Flageollet’s side, on the other hand, displays the hyper-modern watchmaking that DeBethune is famous for – Star Trek-like shapes for the movement components, and skeletonised bridges to expose more of the mechanisms lying underneath.
Voutilainen’s side uses the Isogone display, where a minute ring revolves with the minutes hand. This means that hands will always line up at the hour, be at 90 degrees for 15 minutes past the hour, 180 degrees for the half hour, and 270 degrees for 45 minutes past the hour – the idea being that the display of the hands remains consistent throughout the hours. This side also features a large deadbeat seconds hand. DeBethune’s side involves a rotating minute hand at the periphery of the dial, and the hours indicator curiously positioned where the balance wheel is located – an unusual arrangement, but nonetheless an attractive one that leaves the construction of the movement to speak wonders for the watch. The calibre OW21 housed within has a 4 day power reserve, and features a titanium balance wheel as well as a silicon escapement.
FP Journe x Francis Ford Coppola – FFC Blue
Taking an incredible 7 years from conception to development, the FFC Blue was inspired during a dinner between Coppola and Journe, with Coppola asking if there was any possible way for a watch to tell the time with a hand – and not in the sense that we are used to in watchmaking. Journe took the inspiration of this display from a mechanical hand created by Ambroise Pare, the father of modern surgery, and had to devise a way to display all 12 hours with only 5 fingers.
Furthermore, this is powered by a version of the Octa 1300 movement, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Housed within a weighty tantalum case, the movement is crafted entirely of rose gold, and the rotor is engraved with the names of Ambroise Pare, Francis Ford Coppola, and of course, FP Journe.
The minutes are displayed on a disc on the periphery of the dial with a blued triangular arrow, and of course, the “digital” hours are indicated by the blue hand in the centre of the dial. Whilst we can certainly think of ways that this watch can be even more provocative through the use of its middle digits, this watch is certainly provocative enough with its radical display of time, and incorporation of automata in its construction.
Girard-Perregaux – Casquette, Only Watch Edition
It’s back to the future for Girard-Perregaux at the 2021 edition of Only Watch, as the brand works with Bamford Watch Department to unveil a new version of the famous LED watch from 1976. The watch uses a new movement that utilises an LED display, just like the original Casquette, but protects this in a case of forged carbon and titanium.
Titanium pushers are used to activate the display – just like in the 1970s, LED displays still utilise a lot of power, and the pushers activate the display on demand. Undoubtedly, this is a great way to get vintage vibes from the 70s, whilst retaining an essence of modernity in the form of the case.
Krayon – Anywhere
Featuring a lacquer dial with a mosaic effect, the Krayon Anywhere for Only Watch 2021 features an interpretation of Claude Monet’s “Impression, rising sun” on its Metiers d’Art dial. Distinctive for being the only watch with its Equation of Time and Sunrise/Sunset function capable of being set for any location on Earth, the buyer of this watch will be able to choose the location upon purchase.
The watch also features an incredible amount of fine finishing on the movement – as a prototype, it is finished excellently with manually executed bevels, many of them internal bevels.
MB&F HM10 Panda Only Watch
The shape of the “bulldog” lent itself well to an iteration of this watch in Panda form, with its rounded edges and organic forms. To further the Panda aesthetic, titanium ears were added to domed upper sapphire crystal, the upper case was reworked in stainless steel to accept a black and white lacquer finishing, and a silicon nitride ball was used for its tail. As the Panda is always munching on bamboo, the teeth remain underneath the “eyes/hour and minutes indicators” of the panda – this also serves to indicate the power reserve. To top it all off, the Panda motif is further reinforced with a black and white velcro strap.
Patek Philippe – “Complicated Desk Clock”
For those that managed to procure the entire collection of Patek Philippe watches (including the elusive Nautilus 5711/1A), Patek Philippe dug deep into its archives and based their Only Watch 2021 entry on a clock owned by a famous collector. Originally delivered in 1923, the original clock was ordered by James Ward Packard, and now resides in the Patek Philippe Museum.
The modestly named Only Watch 2021 clock is a veritable horological beast, hewn from Sterling Silver, with vermeil decorative elements and American walnut furniture. Driven by the Calibre 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE, the clock boasts a power reserve of 31 days with power reserve indicator, a perpetual calendar, jumping seconds and a week indicator shown through a red window at the periphery of the dial. Its precision in construction utilising its Gyromax balance wheel and a 28,800 vph oscillation frequency, the clock is adjusted to within +1/-1 seconds per day – an amazing rate of accuracy for a mechanical clock, and we can expect nothing but the best from Patek Philippe.
Speake Marin – Dual Time Openworked Only Watch The Sun
With the world awakening from its pandemic slumber, it could be said that the Speake Marin is a watch for the times. Equipped with an in-house dual-time movement (the SMA02), the watch is ready to accompany its wearer on journeys across the world.
Contrasting with 42mm DLC coated case is an orange dial that is the thematic colour of this year’s edition of Only Watch, not only representing hope and progress in the world of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research, but also a reminder of the reemerging world.
TAG Heuer – Only Watch Carbon Monaco
A modern reinterpretation of the “Dark Lord” Monaco, the watch takes its inspiration from this vintage model of the 70s, and utilises modern materials to update its look and feel, whilst incorporating thoroughly modern features in its movement construction. The case is made from forged carbon, and the Only Watch 2021 thematic colours of orange stand out against its dark skeletonised dial.
The movement features a ‘gratte’ finish to echo a finishing flag that brings to mind its racing heritage, and the rear of the watch features the largest sapphire crystal case back to ever be featured on a Monaco. Within the forged carbon case is the Heuer 02 in-house movement, that is curiously fitted with a carbon hairspring – continuing the theme of carbon within the movement. It is fantastic to see that the carbon hairspring has made its way back to a production watch, and we can only hope that it is a signal for things to come.
Zenith x Felipe Pantone – Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone
All of your chromatic dreams come true – Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone brings the artist’s chromatic artistic inspiration to the wrist in an amazing 46mm sapphire case. A rainbow for the wrist, the multi-coloured finishings are applied to an El Primero 9020 movement that features one tourbillon for timekeeping and one for the chronograph itself, beating at 5Hz and 50Hz respectively. Accompanying the watch will be an artwork made by the artist himself. Two whirlwinds are better than one, and with this watch and the accompanying artwork, it will undoubtedly be a colourful one at that.