The Only Watch charity auction taking place Nov. 9 at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva is poised to go down in history. At least that’s the talk in Switzerland, where watch industry insiders are buzzing about Patek Philippe’s contribution to the biennial sale, a unique piece that may fetch as much as $20 million, which would make it the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.
The revered Geneva watchmaker has created the first and only Grandmaster Chime in steel for the event. Patek Philippe introduced the timepiece in 2014, to mark its 175th anniversary. Sheathed in an ornately engraved 18k rose gold case, the double-face reversible watch boasted 20 complications, including a perpetual calendar, a minute repeater, a second time zone, a leap year cycle and esoteric chiming mechanisms known as grand and petite sonneries. Bearing 1,366 movement components and 214 case components, the $2.5 million model was the most complex wristwatch the brand had ever produced, and was made available in an extremely limited series of seven pieces, one of which went to the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
A white gold version of the Grandmaster Chime joined the manufacture’s regular collection in 2016. The steel edition going on the block in Geneva, the Ref. 6300A-010 Grandmaster Chime, features golden opaline (sometimes referred to as salmon) and ebony-black dials and an inscription—“The Only One”—on the subsidiary alarm time dial at 12 o’clock. Collectors are swooning.
One reason for the predicted price tag is that the pieces belonging to the regular collection are application pieces—meaning that even the most well-heeled, devoted collectors must submit applications for them. In other words, Patek Philippe must own significant real estate in your home and on your wrist in order for you to even be considered as a potential client. The fact that a brand new, unique piece, which also bears “The Only One” written on the dial, is coming up for auction is a rare thing indeed. It also means anyone can bid on it, which is why the price is expected to be driven very high.
Beginning in 2005, the Only Watch auction has grown into a watch industry institution spotlighting one-of-a-kind timepieces by the world’s leading watchmakers. One hundred percent of its proceeds benefit research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that strikes children, causing them to gradually lose basic motor functions, including the ability to walk. To date, the event has raised more than $40 million.
The Nov. 9 sale marks Only Watch’s eighth edition, and, if expectations are on point, its most blockbuster sale to date.