12 Colorful Watches from Only Watch 2023 (the 2023 Theme is Rainbow): Plus Best Story, Wildest Clock, and THE MOST ‘Only Watch’
by Ian Skellern
Held every two years, the Only Watch charity auction of exclusively unique pieces has grown into THE most anticipated watch auction worldwide and features some of the most creative and innovative horology on the planet.
For the 2023 Only Watch auction, the theme is ‘Rainbow’. However, while there are an incredible 62 unique piece timekeepers on offer, only a fraction of them really ran with the rainbow theme. Here they are in order of lot numbers.
Avant-garde flair and a daring use of vibrant colors, Bell & Ross presents a remarkable timepiece fitted with a manufacture movement, inspired by the iconic BR 03.
Case: Black DLC titanium grade 5
Dial: Indices metalized inside the sapphire glass — Visible movement — Multi-colored bridges
Caliber: Automatic BR-Cal.383 specially developed for this watch — Power reserve: 48 hours
Bracelet: Black rubber varnished with soft and colored material in a mosaic pattern
Dimensions: 42 x 43.7mm
Specificities: Bridges designed for the case — Manufacture movement designed for Bell & Ross — Perfect match between the bridges and the case to highlight the skeleton of the movement
Estimate: CHF 45,000 – 55,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/bell-ross
The Czapek was my favorite watch from the recent Geneva Watch Days fair and this unique piece for Only Watch is livened up by vibrant color. Czapek’s open-worked reinterpretation of a double escapement combination that was initially created in 1830 and is very rare in wristwatches. Two independent escapements beat at their own pace, with any rate variations balanced by a differential, all beautifully featured on the dial side.
Case: Stainless steel case with a mix of brushed and polished surfaces — Cutaway lugs — Domed sapphire glass — Sapphire caseback
Dial: Champlevé enamel ring created in collaboration with Donzé Cadrans— Color palette of Only Watch 2023— Circular satin-polished brass flange (réhaut) with Czapek’s Only Watch “Courage every second” signature — Entirely open-worked — Grainé finish — Partially skeletonized sword hands with Super-LumiNova tips
Caliber: Czapek Caliber 8, created in collaboration with Bernhard Lederer — Open-worked — Double escapement with differential — Screwed balance wheel — Power reserve indication (72 hours) — Two sapphire glass bridges — Hand-bevelling (anglage) on bridges and main plate — 18 inward angles — 6 golden settings (chatons)
Bracelet: Alligator strap with pin buckle
Dimensions: Diameter: 41.8mm Case height: 12.4mm
Specificities: Unique architecture for a double escapement with differential at 12 o’clock— Open-worked — Champlevé enamel ring created in collaboration with Donzé Cadrans — Only Watch 2023 colour palette — “Courage Every Second” inscribed on the réhaut
Estimate: CHF 80,000 – 100,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/czapek
The Grönefeld Principia Mandala is my favorite watch of the auction, the brothers have nailed it in terms of design and color. For the first time Bart and Tim decided to add a hinged hunter case back to one of their timepieces, the 1941 Principia. The dial of the watch showcases a vibrant and intricate mandala design, inspired by the colorful logo of the 10th anniversary of Only Watch. A mandala is a symbol of the universe in its ideal form, it holds the power to transform a universe of suffering into one of joy.
Case: Grönefeld stainless steel 1941 Principia case with hunter case back — Unique engraving with the images of Bart, Tim and their father Sjef on the inside — The exterior is engraved “Grönefeld for Only Watch”
Dial: Mandala design inspired by the colorful logo of the 10th anniversary of Only Watch — We started off with 60 base dials to create one perfect dial — It took 16 clichés to print the dial, one cliché for each color — Highly polished hour markers
Caliber: Grönefeld G-06 automatic movement completely hand finished — Stainless steel bridges — Gold chatons and a 22K solid gold oscillating weight — The well-known stainless steel bridges replicate the facades of the Dutch houses
Bracelet: Salmon strap in two colors matching the dial and Only Watch 2023 logo — Stainless steel Grönefeld 1941 Principia buckle
Dimensions: Diameter 39.5mm Thickness: 11.5mm
Specificities: Hunter case back with engraving of Bart, Tim and their father Sjef — Colorful dial with mandala design — Salmon strap in two colors matching the dial and Only Watch 2023 logo
Estimate: CHF 55,000 – 65,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/gr%C3%B6nefeld
Boundaries are blurred, the spirit takes flight, free to roam through an imaginary world. Clad in its platinum and titanium case, the Arceau le temps voyageur Only Watch 2023 offers an interpretation that is all about bright colors.
Case: Platinum lugs and caseback — DLC-coated titanium case and bezel
Dial: Black dial inspired by the Planisphere d’un monde équestre motif designed by Jérôme Colliard — Blue-lacquered mobile counter — Powdered silver-toned Arabic numerals — Galvanised dial, transferred continent names and contours — Oceans engraved by laser then lacquered — Anthracite gray transferred meridians and parallels — Hands coated with Super-LumiNova
Caliber: Hermès H1837
Bracelet: Mykonos blue alligator strap with cactus green lining — Pink buckle
Dimensions: Diameter: 41mm
Specificities: A reinterpretation of a Haute Horlogerie complication. This Arceau Le temps voyageur with its exclusive mechanism developed for Hermès is wearing the Only Watch colours: red, blue, green and yellow combined with Hermès orange.
Estimate: CHF 30,000 – 40,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/herm%C3%A8s
This sapphire watch is inspired by Takashi Murakami’s iconic smiling flower with at its center Hublot’s first-ever central tourbillon, surrounded by twelve petals set with 444 gemstones. The watch boasts an impressive power reserve of 150 hours.
Case: Polished sapphire — Shaped as Takashi Murakami’s smiling flower
Dial: Smiling flower face
Caliber: HUB9015 Manual-winding central flying tourbillon
Bracelet: Transparent rubber with smiling flower — Sapphire and titanium clasp
Dimensions: Diameter 42mm
Specificities: Designed with Takashi Murakami — Sapphire watch case — Central flying tourbillon — 444 gemstones — Colourful luminescent indices — Power reserve: 150 hours — Decorated rubber strap
Estimate: CHF 350,000 – 400,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/hublot
Astronomia Revolution 4th Dimension is the world’s first four-axis tourbillon timepiece. The two-arm movement spins around the first, central axis in 1 minute. The tourbillon arm bears a triple-axis tourbillon carriage with a high frequency constant force device.
Case: 47mm rose gold case — Hand-winding and setting crowns on the caseback — Sapphire caseband and crystal — Water-resistant to 3 atm
Dial: Rose gold lattice set like stained glass with a total of 35 pieces of ornamental and translucent stones such as topaz, sapphire and various types of garnets.
Caliber: CAL.08059 — Four-axis tourbillon with frequencies of 60, 18, 15 and 60 seconds — Constant force with 1/6th of a second frequency — One-minute movement revolution — Hand winding — Power reserve : 36 hours — 485 components
Bracelet: Blue alligator leather — Rose gold folding buckle
Dimensions: Diameter 47mm Thickness 27mm
Specificities: Movement full rotation in 1 minute — World’s first four-axis tourbillon (patent pending) — Constant force escapement — Hour and minute dial with patented differential system — Movement backplate set with 35 fine stones
Estimate: CHF 700,000 – 750,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/jacobandco-concepto
A new face to its Rolling Stones Automaton, Jaquet Droz has created a fun piece evoking all the wonder of children at play. The Stones’ instruments, hand-crafted from blocks of gold, sit beneath the offset hours and minutes display on a disc coloured to resemble a vinyl LP. The scene is surrounded by a second disc that rotates when the pusher is activated, while the iconic Stones tongue rises, falls, and moves from left to right.
Case: 18K white gold — Hand engraved case back
Dial: Hand painted black Onyx subdial with hand painted fluorescent mouth and fluorescent logo — Hand painted brass rotating disc — Hand painted golden static disc with hand engraved and hand painted instruments
Caliber: Jaquet Droz 2653AT2 — Silicon balance spring and pallet horns, double barrel, flat bridges — White gold oscillating weight — Automaton: rotating disc and mouth — Power reserve: 68 hours, animation: 4 minutes
Bracelet: Fabric strap, rubber printed pattern — White gold folding clasp
Dimensions: Diameter 43mm Thickness 16.96mm
Specificities: Automaton with rotating dial and mouth, 4-minutes power reserve — Hand painted dials, fluorescent mouth and fluorescent Jaquet Droz logo — Gold hand engraved and painted instruments and mouth
Estimate: CHF 250,000 – 300,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/jaquet-droz
The Lederer Central Impulse Chronometer is a high-performance watch with a revolutionary escapement. Here, Bernhard Lederer unveils a one-off, ‘dial-less’ version in a profoundly redesigned aesthetic, exposing the movement and bringing it to life with a zest of color with Super-LumiNova.
Case: The case is made of stainless steel and water-resistant to 30 meters — It is a timepiece with a fundamentally reworked aesthetic: black DLC treatment throughout, with vivid color accents.
Dial: Lederer’s invention shines through with the mechanism on the dial side — Bridges, plate, everything is DLC-coated, black with Super-LumiNova highlights as per the Only Watch 2023 color chart
Caliber: Hours and minutes — 220 components, including 46 rubies — 21,600 vibrations/hour (3Hz) — Hand-wound mechanism — Double barrels — Two independent gear trains, two constant-force remontoires — Mirrored detent escapement with centrally aligned impulses
Bracelet: Black strap with original Only Watch 2023 motifs
Dimensions: Diameter: 44mm
Specificities: Bernhard Lederer installed the two escapement wheels at the end of two separate gear trains, each with its own barrel and 10-second constant force remontoire (winding system) – improving chronometric performance and rate stability!
Estimate: CHF 100,000 – 200,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/lederer
The colors of life, the colors of Only Watch. The dial of the Art-Tech uses the optical properties of microelectronic circuits engraved on a silicon wafer to create an intense visual animation of multicolored reflections that flash over a clear graphic design whenever the watch moves.
In a World Premiere, a microelectronic silicon wafer dial combined with a tourbillon. The silicon wafer makes for a very special design. Each angle of vision creates a new, lively, and changing visual experience because the wafer reacts in different ways to light. At each movement, it comes to life with multicolored reflections that play across complex lines of the etched microelectronic circuit. The effect is fascinating.
Case: Grade 5 titanium — Polished and satin-brushed — Openworked lugs — Box-type sapphire crystal — Anti-reflect coating on both sides
Dial: Unique dial cut from a microelectronic silicon wafer — Mesmerising visual experience — Wafer surface iridescence and microelectronic circuits produces multicoloured reflections — Microcircuits create a dynamic graphic design — Cut using laser technology
Caliber: Flying tourbillon with off-centre cage at 6 o’clock — Hand-wound mechanism with “volte-face” double barrel arrangement — 28,800 vibrations per hour — 26 rubies — Power reserve: 96 hours
Bracelet: Preformed rubber — Triple-blade folding clasp, steel with black PVD finish, fine adjustment, curved “Fleur de Lys”
Dimensions: Diameter 40.7mm. Thickness 15.12mm
Specificities: Dial cut from a microelectronic silicon wafer — Innovative material linked with technological advances, notably in medicine — The colors of life, the colors of Only Watch — A world of colours in a watch that change according to the angle of vision — Flying tourbillon with off-centre cage at 6 o’clock
Estimate: CHF 80,000 – 120,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/louis-moinet
For the 10th anniversary of Only Watch, Louis Vuitton celebrates the push towards a better future with the Tambour Einstein Automata Only Watch 2023. A dial of remarkable craftsmanship, incorporating the techniques of micro-sculpture and grisaille enamel, depicts the likeness of Albert Einstein in one of his most notorious photographic and mischievous portraits, sticking his tongue out in an unexpected moment of levity.
Case: Stainless steel case — Stainless steel crown and push-piece hand engraved by Dick Steenman — Open case back with specific engraving “Only Watch 2023” and “N°1/1”
Dial: 18K white gold hand engravings by Dick Steenman — Enamel dial, using miniature and grisaille handmade technics, by Nicolas Doublel
Caliber: LV 525 caliber: mechanical movement with manual winding developed and assembled by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton — Automata mechanism featuring 4 animations, jumping hours, retrograde minutes and power reserve indicator — 18K white gold minute hand in the shape of an atom set with one diamond — 426 components — Power reserve: 100 hours — 21,600 vibrations/hour — 50 jewels
Bracelet: Black alligator strap
Dimensions: Diameter 46.8mm Thickness: 14.4mm
Specificities: With an engraved steel hair strand extending from the dial, Einstein’s face is a real work of art thanks to the work of gold engraving and grisaille enamel. This unique timepiece comes to life with an in-house automata mechanical movement.
Estimate: CHF 340,000 – 440,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/louis-vuitton
The Maurice Lacroix Only Watch 2023 is presented in a sapphire case, a first for the Maison. The making of a sapphire crystal case is protracted, necessitating numerous hours of polishing. Measuring 43mm in diameter, this colourless housing affords views of the hand-wound movement within.
Only Watch always celebrates colour and this year proves no exception. Inspired by the work of artist Victor Vasarely, participating brands were encouraged to juxtapose shades of blue, red, orange and green. The resultant rainbow-theme enlivens the movement plate. The hours and minutes are shown on an off-centre dial appointed with black indexes, each suffused with Super-LumiNova and presented in a different hue, again repeating the rainbow look.
Case: Sapphire with sapphire bezel and crown — Sapphire open caseback with ONLYWATCH 2023 engraving
Dial: Anthracite sunray dial with black M-logo — Rainbow perimeter on the big disk and black perimeter on the small disk
Caliber: Manual ML330 Skeleton with rainbow plate
Bracelet: Gray nylon strap with black sandblasted M-logo and Easychange system — Stainless steel butterfly buckle with titanium cap
Dimensions: Diameter 43mm Height 11mm
Specificities: 43mm sapphire case, bezel and crown, a first for the Maison — Skeleton movement, the hand-wound Manufacture Calibre ML330 — On the movement, shades of colours are juxtaposed to create a vibrant, rainbow-theme that are referenced with the movement plate.
Estimate: CHF 25,000 – 35,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/maurice-lacroix
Freak S Only Watch is a one and unique iteration of the Freak S launched in 2022. In order to celebrate the anniversary of Only Watch, the Ulysse Nardin manufacture and design studio have created a colorful interpretation of the UN-251 caliber based on the rainbow color pallet.
The micromechanical machinery featured in the Freak S is a carrousel, with no hands, no dial, and no crown. The Freak S indicates the time thanks to the rotation of its own movement. Two bridges rotate around its center. They respectively indicate the hours and minutes. An arrow shows the hours while the nose cone of the spaceship indicates the minutes.
Case: Black ceramic upper case — Black DLC titanium case, bezel, side plates and locker — Black DLC titanium open sapphire case back — “1/1” plate on the right side of the case (in place of the crown) — “Only Watch” plate on the left side of the case — Water-resistant to 30 meters
Dial: Hour disc engraved with a black sunray pattern
Caliber: Caliber UN-251 Manufacture — Automatic movement — Hours, minutes — Flying carrousel movement rotating around its own axis and indicating time — Double oscillator in silicon — Double escapement in DiamonSil — Vertical differential system (69 components) — “Grinder” automatic winding system — 373 components — 33 jewels
Bracelet: Blue “ballistic” rubber strap — Black alligator strap with rainbow colored stitching (included in addition) — Black ceramic and black DLC titanium self-deploying buckle
Dimensions: Diameter 45mm Height 13.66mm
Specificities: Freak S Only Watch is a one and unique iteration of the Freak S launched in 2022. In order to celebrate the anniversary of Only Watch, the Ulysse Nardin manufacture and design studio have created a colorful interpretation of the UN-251 caliber based on the rainbow color pallet.
Estimate: CHF 160,000 – 200,000
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/ulysse-nardin
Best Origin Story
Great watches tell a story and the Richard Mille Talisman Origine comes with a great tale.
A millennia ago (or more accurately, once upon a lime), in a long-since vanished society where mechanics, craftsmanship and spirituality were united, this fascinating object emerged.
Discovered in the heart of the Swiss mountains, this pendant was imprisoned for an eternity in its wooden receptacle. Nicknamed “Talisman Origine” by the research teams, this mysterious golden relic certainly encapsulated the know-how of an old Swiss tribe.
Case: Bezels and caseback: In satin-finished red gold. Hand-polished rims. Hand-engraved symbols — Caseband: In grade 5 titanium — Claws: In grade 5 titanium, polished and microblasted with swiss rhodonite inserts
Caliber: Caliber CRMT5 — In-house skeletonised automatic-winding tourbillon movement with hours and minutes — Baseplate and bridges made of 3N and 5N gold — Free sprung balance with variable inertia — Variable-geometry rotor
Bracelet: Necklace made of swiss briarwood, gold, titanium and rhodonite — Threaded on a metal and rubber string
Dimensions: 46.77 x 77.25 x 13.10mm
Specificities: The RMS14 goes beyond the concept of a watch — This unique piece is the essence of Swiss culture — Its case and necklace are fully hand-engraved and integrates rhodonite and wooden parts
Estimate: CHF 600,000 – 800,000
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/richard-mille
Some Unique Pieces are more ‘unique than others
The Only Watch auction is exclusively unique piece watches, but while most are unique variations of existing (or soon-to-exist) models, a couple of brands, sorry, make that three brands, have taken ‘unique’ literally and created true one-offs.
Urwerk didn’t simply create the Space-Time Blade as a sensational one-off digital clock, they had the manufacturer of the Nixie tubes develop over-sized tubes with numerals in the Urwerk font and with many more layers and complexity. It is also worth noting for those that relate Nixie tubes to retro displays, NASA ordered a clock from the same Nixie tube manufacturer Urwerk used because Nixie tubes can refresh much faster than any other display – that’s essential when you are counting 1/1000ths of a second.
Urwerk embarks on a new groundbreaking journey, redefining the very essence of time through a fresh and captivating approach. To materialize this extraordinary vision, the expertise of talented craftsman Dalibor Farny has been enlisted. Science-Fiction and Time telling meet in a glowing magic.
Let the digits of light guide you through the Spacetime continuum, as this remarkable glass column illuminates not only the hours, minutes, and seconds but also kilometers depicting our smooth Earth travel.
Case: Glass capsule set on a bronze pedestal
Caliber: Urwerk concept
Dimensions: 167cm x 20cm
Specificities: Space-Time blade encapsulated into a glass structure — Time indication: hour, minute, second — Earth spinning indication: kilometers
Estimate: CHF 45,000 – 80,000
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/urwerk
Moser and MB&F haven’t simply developed a unique piece watch, but it features a one-off movement as well!
A unique Performance Art piece featuring MB&F, hosted by H. Moser & Cie. A DJ master set imbued with the DNA of both brands. MB&F and H. Moser & Cie. synchronise their beats to the same tempo and invite the public to an artistic performance led by a miniature panda DJ. Those familiar with Only Watch will remember appearances of a panda character in previous Only Watch pieces by MB&F.
Case: Stainless steel case — Screw-down crown — See-through case-back — Water-resistant to 5 ATM
Dial: Aquamarine fumé dial with sunburst pattern — Perfect mix of H. Moser & Cie. and MB&F DNA
Caliber: Three-dimensional hand-wound caliber — 18,800 beats — Mixes for 54 hours without a break
Bracelet: Integrated stainless steel bracelet — Folding clasp
Dimensions: Diameter: 42.3mm Height: 17mm including domed sapphire glass
Specificities: The H. Moser x MB&F Streamliner Pandamonium is a unique piece featuring a one-off movement, designed exclusively for Only Watch.
Estimate: CHF 300,000 – 400,000
For more information or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/h-moser-mb-f
For more information on Only Watch 2023 and/or to place a bid, please visit www.onlywatch.com/
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