The Only Watch Brand Story - Understanding The Elements That Make Up This Brilliant Endeavour

  • 20th Aug 2023
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The Only Watch Brand Story - Understanding The Elements That Make Up This Brilliant Endeavour

Today we introduce you to Only Watch, a biennial auction that raises money for conducting research into a rare genetic condition. This is no regular auction- the items include bespoke luxury watches handcrafted by the biggest luxury brands in the world.

copyright: Axel_Bastello HD

In conversation with Luc Pettavino, founder of Only Watch, LuxuryAbode gained insight into the project- its intricacies, the idea behind it, and all that it has achieved till date.

LA. Please share the story behind the brand’s establishment and its beginnings (Perhaps a little bit about the founders and what inspired them)

Luc. I created Only Watch in 2005 with one intent: raise funds for research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) by auctioning one-off timepieces. DMD is a genetic disease that affects 1 in 3,500 boys – amongst whom my son Paul and his neighbour friend Philippe whose diagnoses were the genesis of the project. The consequences of this genetic condition are a progressive weakening of all muscles, including the heart, the loss of the ability to walk and global autonomy.

Since then, thanks to the increasing great mobilisation of the watch industry and the support of an entire ecosystem, this initiative has become the most awaited biennial rendezvous in the horology calendar for both brands and collectors. It has allowed the charity organisation behind Only Watch, the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, to raise the incredible sum of CHF/EUR 100 million and fund very significant scientific and medical progress.

It’s been quite an incredible journey that started with the same main ingredient that makes it work today: consistency, human-to-human trust and commitment. The project has become bigger and brighter than what we could all have hoped for, creating a great federating moment in the watchmaking industry’s calendar and a true beacon of hope on research for a therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.”

LA. How does the brand/the project maintain the balance between being philanthropic and also luxurious?

Luc.

“Only Watch auctions are great occasions for brands to participate in an international scale event that allows them to “create beauty to do good” (the Only Watch motto).

Indeed, in addition to the auction an opportunity to test innovations – design and/or mechanical - watchmakers and watch brands contribute very significantly and in a collective way (with their teams and their peers) to a cause: research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). We know this means a lot to them, especially at a time when companies and their leaders are keen on having a positive impact through their activity.

LA. What significant challenges have you faced on the journey, and how have you overcome them?

Luc. Edition after edition, we (organisers, watchmakers, partners, donators, media) strive to enlarge and embellish the very special common house Only Watch has become thereby creating an unprecedented platform uniting the best of what this community has to offer. And each edition a new unprecedented level is reached.

LA. Can you share any remarkable success stories or milestones achieved by the brand?

Only Watch has collected CHF/EUR 100 million since the beginning of its creation and funded very significant scientific and medical progress.

Luc. Through this a possible therapy has been developed by long-standing research partners, and is currently being tested in a phase 1 safety clinical trial. Numerous fundamental and translational research programs to better understand the disease and develop other therapeutic avenues are supported by the charity through grants for doctoral and postdoctoral studies, ad hoc research teams, etc. The onlyproject.org website provides in-depth information about the same.

LA. What is different/new about Only Watch 2023?

Luc. This year’s edition is again an edition of hope, this time symbolised by the green colour besides all colours from previous editions. This colourful theme reflects the auction's vibrant past and optimistic future. As for the watches…get ready to fall off your chair more than once. You can also follow the live broadcast on Only Watch Instagram & YouTube.

This edition places a greater emphasis on supporting young researchers, highlighting the auction's commitment to fostering talent and innovation. Additionally, the 2023 selection of watches features contributions from both iconic brands and emerging watchmaking talents, bringing a fresh and innovative touch to the offerings.

Finally, I would say that the 2023 collection is breathtaking in all of its diversity with 62 lots, 73 participating brands, 16 collaborations and 16 first-time entries. What makes it so special is that each piece stands out in its unicity: there are so many innovations and surprises… I believe it will give all watch lovers and enthusiasts unforgettable items to dream of!

LA. How has the brand expanded its influence and presence on a global scale?

Luc. Collaboration with watchmakers and partners from all over the world is one of the key reasons for Only Watch’s global success.

And on the research side, we collaborate with more than 50 researchers worldwide.

Also, making the collection travel for a promotional tour is decisive to make the collection shine and create more desire amongst the potential buyers/donators.

This year we are going to display the collection from September 6 (in Los Angeles) to the auction November 5 (in Geneva).

Here are the stops
  1. Los Angeles: 6 - 9 September
  2. New York: 14 - 17 September
  3. Monaco: 27- 30 September
  4. Hong-Kong: 5 - 7 October
  5. Bangkok: 11 - 12 October
  6. Singapore: 20 – 22 October
  7. Dubai: 27 October
  8. Geneva: 3- 5 November

https://www.onlywatch.com/attend offers more information.

LA. What is Only Watch's vision for the future, and how does it plan to continue evolving while staying true to its heritage?

Luc. Only Watch is all about an alchemy between organisers, watchmakers, partners, donors, media. What makes us so unique is that everybody is on the same page. This is a heritage we have to preserve in order to stay what we are: a platform for brands to experiment and a great contributor to research against DMD - through the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies.

Our independence as a familial charity is definitely the direction we’ll keep developing for the future.

LA. Are there any brand ambassadors, influencers, or celebrities associated with Only Watch? How do they align with your image?

Luc. All the watchmakers are great ambassadors of Only Watch. They are thrilled about the project, waiting for this biennial rendez-vous to design and experiment with the best they have to offer for Only Watch, fully embracing our concept and our guidelines. They also make great content and videos to communicate on their unique pieces. In fact, all the partners we work with act in a collective way under the Only Watch banner.

LA. Have there been any notable collaborations or partnerships that have contributed to its international success?

Luc. Piece by piece we put it together, year after year, welcoming new brands and new partners, making our project shine worldwide, developing the research program. I do believe it is not one specific collaboration or partnership that made our international success but the sense of the collective in this ecosystem.

LA.Kindly share any other facts that you think are essential to the Only Watch story.

Luc. Looking back over the 18 years since the beginning, some key figures: 9 past editions of OW (2005-2021)126 watch brands have participated in OW since 2005 around EUR/CHF 100 million raised+ More than 50 researchers supported worldwide Dozens of round tables organised 1 clinical trial underway

Only Watch is undoubtedly a noble, creative project that not only aims to make a difference but also does it in a way that is luxurious, innovative and brings together people from all over.


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Anishka is a student passionate about the English language, the world of words and communication overall. She currently is learning SEO copywriting, UX writing and the Adobe Suite software.She loves expressing ideas through words and photographs; writing punchy intense poetry, watching artsy films, ... read more


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