American Marketer


Patek Philippe, Piaget, Tag Heuer raise more than $6M at Only Watch auction

October 10, 2011


Luxury watchmakers such as Hublot, Piaget, Audemars Piguet, Tag Heuer and Patek Philippe helped to raise more than $6 million to benefit research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at this year’s Only Watch auction.

Swiss watchmaker Patek Philippe’s special-edition watch created for the auction was the highest seller, bringing in $1.8 million. The auction comprised 40 different watches, all of which completed an 11-country world tour to showcase the watches before the being sold in Monaco.

“I think overall, everybody has to be greatly satisfied with the results,” said Julien Schaerer, managing director and auctioneer at Antiquorum Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland. “This was the highest-grossing sale that was brought in by Only Watch.

“[In part because] we did the largest world tour that was ever done – with over 11 stops worldwide – to show the watch to all our clients,” he said.

Antiquorum Geneva co-organizes the Only Watch auction with Association Monegasque contre les Myopathies and the Monaco yacht show.

The Association Monegasque contre les Myopathies was created in 2001 and is aimed at finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy through the work of various institutions in Europe.

The foundation has been supported by Prince Albert of Monaco since its beginning.

The money raised Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy was nearly double that of the previous auction in 2009.

There are a number of luxury brands found among the 40 watchmakers that contribute unique timepieces to the Only Watch auction.

This year’s auctioned watches included exclusive models from Audemars Piguet, Bovet, Breguet, Chanel, Chopard, DeWitt, Girard-Perregaux, Harry Winston, Hermés, Hublot, Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Patek Philippe, Piaget, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin and Van Cleef & Arpels.

“First and foremost, [the success] was the right combination of the brands that are coming up with unique products that would appeal to the clients," Mr. Schaerer said.

The highest-selling Patek Philippe special-edition watch featured a black enamel dial with Tourbillon escapement, white gold minute and hour hands and a stainless steel Patek Philippe prong buckle.

The second-highest grossing watch was a sportswatch created by French watchmaker Richard Mille.

The watch was worn by tennis player Rafael Nadale when he won the 2011 Monte Carlo championships.

Richard Mille's watch is made mostly of carbon composite with titanium skeleton hands.

Swiss watchmaker Piaget’s unique Altiplano Skeleton was sold for $72,548.

The Hermés watch featured sapphire crystal glass, herringbone decorations and Breguet numbers and was sold for $36, 274.

The special-edition watch created by Tag Heuer came with a specially-designed case by South African painter Paul du Toit to create a unique box for its Monaco Mikrograph model sold for $59,113 (see story).

"Tag Heuer has always been involved with charity works [and] the Only Watch charity auction is the continuation of this and allows us to give back to society and support the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research simply by donating a watch - an exceptional watch, of course," said Fabienne Chalchat, public relations manager at Tag Heuer, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

"Only Watch gathers the most prestigious and generous watch brands around a noble cause and we are proud to be one of them," she said.

Ticking tour
Prior to the Sept. 23 auction in Monaco, all of the 40 watches were taken on an 11-city world tour.

This was the largest showcase executed by Only Watch.

The exhibit tour stopped in Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York, Milan and Geneva before ending in Monaco.

The auction took place in the Salle Belle Epoque in the Hotel Hermitage in Monaco and was attended by Prince Albert and Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Only Watch has always been held in Monaco at the same time as the Monaco Yacht Show. It started eight years ago and occurs every two years.

While the next auction is still far off, Mr. Schaerer does not believe much will be done differently for the next auction, except for perhaps changing the world tour locations.

Most of the buyers are, in fact, watch collectors from around the world who bid on the watches either over the phone or via the Internet, per Mr. Schaerer.

The exhibit tour is a vital part of the auction since most consumers like to see a watch in-person before they pay the high price points.

“For the collectors, sometimes it is not sufficient to see a watch printed on a piece of paper,” Mr. Schaerer said. “They have to gauge the size, the color and how it wears on the wrist.

"It is beneficial for people to be able to see and touch it,” he said.

Final Take

Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York