Our favourite watches from Only Watch 2019

Not the most expensive, or the most outrageous, but the ones we'd most like to take home with us...

Montblanc 1858 Split-Seconds Chronograph Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019

There are many reasons to like Only Watch - chief among them its main purpose as a charitable endeavour, raising funds for research into finding a cure for Duschesne muscular dystrophy. As committed watch geeks, we also like it for bringing us dozens of crazy creations from our favourite watchmakers, who have flexed some creative clout and turned their regular models into something special.

Increasingly it stands as a platform for brands to showcase something completely new as well, either flights of fancy that will never see full production or new ideas that could hint at future mainstream developments. So we like musing over What It Might Mean. But on the most basic and enjoyable level, it's a chance to ogle some incredible - and incredibly rare - watches, and we're always up for that.

Here are twelve of our absolute favourites from Only Watch 2019.

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Akrivia Chronomètre Contemporain Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Akrivia Chronometre Contemporain

Rexhep Rexhepi is sweeping up awards for his work, and he's still alarmingly young. The Chronometre Contemporain took the Men's Watch prize at last year's GPHG; here it's given a sensational hand-hammered dial, covered with blue grand feu enamel with white enamelled markings.

Cased in platinum, by none other than Jean-Pierre Hagmann, it's estimated to fetch CHF 40,000-60,000.

2 of 12
Breguet Type 20 Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Breguet Type 20

Breguet doesn't normally bring a surfeit of imagination to Only Watch but this year it has made us very happy with this retro take on a Type 20. It measures just 38.3mm across (tick), has a minimal bronze-coloured dial inspired by 1950s pieces (tick) and best of all, houses a re-worked hand-wound Valjoux 235 calibre (tick tick tick) - normally the Type XX family uses automatic calibres descended from Lemania.

Estimate: CHF 35,000-50,000

3 of 12
Czapel & Cie Faubourg de Cracovie Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Czapek & Cie Faubourg de Cracovie

Czapek's entry isn't as adventurous as some but it deserves to be on this list for its looks alone. We think Czapek's debut chronograph is underrated (the Vaucher movement is terrific and the proportions, to our eye, are handsome), so a funky version was always going to be to our liking. Black onyx and blue chalcedony stones combine together on the dial, while the case has had a black ADLC makeover.

Estimate: CHF 24,000-36,000

4 of 12
F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
F.P. Journe Astronomic Blue

This is hands-down the biggest story of Only Watch 2019, so it definitely merits a longer discussion. But in a nutshell, it packs a minute repeater, equation of time, sunrise and sunset, annual calendar and moonphase complications powered by a remontoire movement with a tourbillon and dead-beat seconds into a 44mm tantalum case and looks simply stunning from every angle.

It's one of the big ticket items in the auction, with an estimate between CHF 300,000 and 600,000.

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Ferdinand Berthoud Chronomètre FB 1 – Night Star Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Ferdinand Berthoud Chronometre FB.1 "Night Star"

Like the Czapek, this is a watch we have admired for a while. So its place here is really to give us an opportunity to say how surprisingly good it can look with a sandblasted anthracite-ceramised titanium case and a frosted black dial. And to emphasise that we, like all sane people, would love to own a watch called the Night Star.

Estimate: CHF 170,000-200,000

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Gronefeld 1941 Remontoire Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Gronefeld 1941 Remontoire

Continuing the strong trend of independent watchmakers tweaking the designs of their best-looking watches to predictably good effect, the Gronefeld brothers have given Only Watch a tweedy, almost grizzled version of their 1941 Remontoire. The blue hands and eight-second remontoire governor wheel stand out proudly against the frosted silver dial.

Estimate: CHF 48,000-69,000

7 of 12
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept Only Watch
Only Watch 2019
H. Moser & Cie Endeavour Perpetual Moon Concept

H. Moser & Cie's 'concept' watches - with no logo, no markers and not much else on the dial - and Vantablack, the world's darkest substance, are a pretty good pair. The two meet again here, in a special one-off version of the Endeavour Moonphase. Dark side of the moon, anyone?

Estimate: CHF 35,000-45,000

8 of 12
MB&F Tom and T-Rex Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
MB&F x L'Epee Tom and T-Rex

You can rely on MB&F (and L'Epee, the firm carrying out the clockmaking behind Max Busser's ideas) to go the extra mile. For Only Watch 2019 they have created a bipedal sculpture-clock designed to resemble a child atop a cyborg eyeball (made from Murano glass) with dinosaur legs. Sounds nightmareish, looks quite Pixar in its execution.

Estimate: CHF 20,000-40,000

9 of 12
Montblanc 1858 Split-Seconds Chronograph Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Montblanc 1858 Split-Seconds Chronograph

With a titanium case, a blue agate stone dial and a fierce red/grey contrast colour scheme, Montblanc has put together one of the most conventional but one of the most desirable watches in the whole auction. The bronze watch on which this is based is a bit of a bargain in haute horlogerie terms at £29,000, and even for another £20,000 this feels like a steal.

Estimate: CHF 42,000-48,000

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Moritz Grossmann Réserve de Marche Classique Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Moritz Grossmann Reserve de Marche Classique

This isn't the most exciting watch from the 52 - far from it. It's perfectly handsome, in an austere Glashutte way, and the watchmaking and finishing behind it is beyond reproach. But we've really included it here in a fit of optimism, as it showcases a new logo (really an old logo - it dates from 1875) for Moritz Grossmann that we fervently hope the brand adopts full time. It's cleaner, smarter and more in tune with the watches.

Estimate: CHF 30,000-50,000

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Singer Reimagined Track 1 - Only Watch Edition
Only Watch 2019
Singer Reimagined Track 1 - Only Watch Edition

The Singer Reminagined Track 1 has been a bit of a grower for us. The brand as a whole is doing pretty interesting work - you can read more about that here - but as a standalone watch, the Track 1 is a fascinating item. This design picks up where the Hong Kong edition left off; that wasn't our favourite execution but the subtle addition of Damascene steel, courtesy of a collaboration with Swedish watchmakers Johan Gustafsson and Patrik Sjögren, was too good to overlook.

Estimate: CHF 45,000-55,000

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Voutilainen TP1 Only Watch 2019
Only Watch 2019
Voutilainen TP1

Kari Voutilainen could guilloché a Coke can and we'd be all over it like wasps at a picnic, so imagine our reaction to a TV-screen pocket watch with three different textures of guillochage on the dial, a belting colour scheme (little bit Gulf Oil) and a movement to match. And the screws! Look at them, the little three-headed beauties. Best of all, this is the very first project worked on by Kari together with his daughter Venla. We've got more detail here - it's a goodie.

Estimate: CHF 50,000-70,000

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