The Collection With a Cause: The Only Watch Charity Auction

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 Previous to the auction, the watches are displayed at the Monaco Yacht Show and before that, on a world tour at points in Asia, Europe and the United States, at Antiquorum in New York and Westime in Los Angeles.

The Only Watch charity auction is more than just a gathering of over-the-top timepieces made by watchmaking’s elite and the wealthy buyers who bid for them. This Antiquorum auction is the story of one man’s heroic dedication to fighting a disease that has afflicted his son and his connection to a man that, in watchmaking circles, is considered equally heroic.

Luc Pettavino, president of the Monegasque Association against Muscular Dystrophies (AMM), conceived the biennial Only Watch Auction in 2005 to help find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a debilitating neuromuscular disease that affects one in every 3,500 men.

“When I started Only Watch, I had a few contacts in the watch industry,” Pettavino said. “Nicolas Hayek Sr. was one of them. He told me,  ‘I like your idea; and you will have the support of my group- Swatch, Omega, Blancpain, Breguet, Glashütte – but what would be more fun is if you manage to gather our competitors as well, so that Only Watch can become a reference.’” Inspired by Hayek’s words, Pettavino quit his job of 20 years and started AMM.

“I was the managing director and shareholder of the Monaco Yacht Show, the number one yachting event worldwide,” he said. “I sold my shares last year, and since then I work almost full-time for finding therapeutical solutions for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I’ve been very active in the field for the past 10 years now. I do it for free, of course.”

The auction was this month at the Hotel Hermitage in Monaco, under the High Patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. High Patronage is a formal term expressing the endorsement of the member of a royal family; Prince Albert launches the event and discreetly buys some watches to support the cause. There are 40 watches on the block this year, each one of a kind. Previous to the auction, the watches are displayed at the Monaco Yacht Show and before that, on a world tour at points in Asia, Europe and the United States, at Antiquorum in New York and Westime in Los Angeles. One hundred percent of the proceeds go toward muscular dystrophy research. The first three auctions raised 2.5 million Euros for the cause.

Paul Pettavino, 16, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, “is doing okay,” says his father Luc. “He is kind and easy to live with. For the third time he collaborated with one of the watch brands [this year, Louis Vuitton] a unique piece and box for Only Watch.” In thanking the watchmakers for their participation, Pettavino shared heartfelt words.

“Your presence is heartening because it shows that you were wisely able to turn professional competitiveness into a beneficial ambition and enthusiasm for a noble cause,” he said.

Here are a few highlights from this year’s auction, followed by their estimates, or wish price, as they are expressed in the catalog.

Richard Mille

RM027 Rafael Nadal Tourbillon

Part of what makes the RM027 unique is that it has been road-tested by Rafael Nadal. The tennis star wore the tourbillon when he won the 2011 Monte Carlo championship for the seventh year running. Following the match, Nadal handed the watch over to charity head Luc Pettavino’s son, a 16-year-old afflicted with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Wish price: 400,000-600,000 EUR.

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