Out of the 53 lots up for auction by Only Watch 2021 in a couple of weeks, there are four that cannot be worn on the wrist. While we tend to focus primarily on wrist-worn timing devices, only mechanical of course, it doesn’t hurt to pay homage to the origins of watchmaking and feature a funky or complex clock or other timing instruments every now and then. With that in mind, here are the four lots that are perfect for your office, lounge or to admire from a distance.
Ulysse Nardin UFO Table Clock
Ulysse Nardin presents something quite out of this world with the UFO Table Clock, in collaboration with expert clockmakers L’Epée 1893. The brand already launched (and sold out) the clock at Watches & Wonders earlier this year but has created a unique piece with this year’s Only Watch theme. Instead of metallic blue for the aluminium base and some movement components, it now comes in a striking tone of orange.
The cool thing about this clock is the spherical shape from top to bottom. The base is weighted with a tungsten mass, so if it gets a little knock, the clock will sway back and forth and balance itself again. It is reminiscent of early marine chronometers set in a gimbal to balance the instrument. The 3mm thick hand-blown glass dome can be separated via a bayonet system to wind the movement.
The vertical construction of the movement almost fills the entire dome and has three identical rectangular dials. Each one can be set to an individual time zone, so this clock is perfect for anyone who has to take time differences into account on a daily basis. The unique piece has a massive 1-year power reserve thanks to its six barrels. On top is a mesmerising oversized balance wheel and dead-beat seconds display.
Quick facts – 263mm height with 159mm diameter – 7.2 kilograms – weighted base with hand-blown glass dome – manually wound movement – 675 components – oversized 49mm oscillator – three time zones with hours and minutes – dead-beat seconds indication below balance wheel – 6 barrels providing 1 year power reserve
Estimate: CHF 60,000 – 80,000
Montblanc Star legacy nicolas rieussec chronograph only watch’21 unique piece
Montblanc has decided to combine this year’s Only Watch event with the 200th anniversary of the inking chronograph invented by Nicolas Rieussec in 1821. This unique instrument was the first of its kind, capable of measuring two competitors simultaneously and determine the winner. The device Mr Rieussec developed featured two rotating discs underneath a fixed marker with a pen-like tip. Once a button was pressed, the marker would leave a dot on the disc in order to indicate the finish time.
While Montblanc already honours the development of this so-called inking chronograph with the Star Legacy Nicolas Rieussec collection, the unique piece created for Only Watch 2021 comes with a replica of the original chronograph from 1821. Set in a wooden box, it is matched to the unique watch in terms of looks and materials. While technically not a clock, and considering it’s offered as a set alongside the wristwatch, the inclusion of said chronograph caught our eye nonetheless.
There’s not much known about it other than it is made of walnut burl and has white enamel chronograph discs that are started and stopped by a left pusher on top of the device. Resetting the chronograph is done by manually turning them back to zero with the central knob on each of them.
Quick facts (watch) – 43mm diameter x 15.02mm height – 18k yellow gold case, polished – gold-coloured dial with guilloché decoration – monopusher chronograph movement with yellow gold winding rotor – off-centred hour and minutes display, second time-zone indication, day/night display, chronograph with 60-second and 30-minute counters – 72h power reserve
Quick facts (chronograph) – 80mm height x 176mm width x 150mm length – walnut burl wooden case – gold-coloured top plate – white enamel chronograph dials – orange-coloured fixed double chronograph pointer – monopusher chronograph movement
Estimate: CHF 30,000 – 45,000
Trilobe x daniel buren La Réciproque Table Clock
Independent watchmaker Trilobe has decided not to donate a watch, but a cool-looking desk clock made with French conceptual artist Daniel Buren. Mr Buren is known chiefly for using coloured stripes, often contrasting with the artwork’s surroundings. One of his most famous works is the “Les Deux Plateux” at the Cour d’Honneur du Palais Royal in Paris. This controversial art installation features black and white striped columns of varying height spread around the Royal Palace’s courtyard.
Inspired by Daniel Buren’s work, and particularly the use of black and white stripes, Trilobe created a fascinating piece. The square case is divided into contrasting stripes with Trilobe’s signature display of revolving discs for hours, minutes, and seconds. Since each disc rotates at its own speed, the look of the clock changes throughout the day, with the stripes being aligned only twice per day. The “scarlet heart” movement, made by hand by Swiss watchmakers, jumps at you from the back in its bright red finishing.
Quick facts – 30cm x 30cm squared case in aluminium – alternating black and white stripes – Trilobe time display with revolving discs for hours, minutes, seconds – bright red finished D-Centric movement – handmade in Switzerland – constant-force escapement – 8-day power reserve – traditional finishing techniques – can be wall-mounted or used as a table clock
Estimate: CHF 35,000 – 45,000
Patek Philippe Complicated Desk Clock 27001M-001
The clue about this particular one is in the name. It is a desk clock, and it is complicated. Patek Phillipe has always been one of the strongest participants in the biennial Only Watch charity events, and this year is no different. Patek Phillipe has created an ornately decorated desk clock in an inclined case of sterling silver with American walnut inlays and vermeil decorations.
The unique piece takes inspiration from one of the 18 custom-ordered pieces by James Ward Packard (explained in our introduction article here) and features a whole array of complications. Next to the time, it indicates the date, day of the week, month, week of the year, leap year, moon phase, and power reserve. The top of the clock opens up to allow you to wind and set the clock with a special winding key.
What boggles the mind is that Patek Phillipe has created a complete, one-off movement especially for this clock instead of adapting something existing. Now, while it is extremely complex and quite stunning, regardless if you’re a fan of the look or not, we can’t see it break the record previously set by Patek Phillipe with the unique Ref. 6300A-010 Grandmaster Chime in steel created for Only Watch 2019. Of course, that was a wristwatch, and this is a table clock, which makes a huge difference, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Quick facts – 164.6 x 125 x 76.3mm – sterling silver case, American walnut inlays, vermeil decorative elements – rose-gilt opaline dial – manual wound Patek Phillipe calibre 86-135 PEND IRM Q SE – adjusted to -1/+1 seconds per day – time, date, day of the week, week of the year, month, moon phase, power reserve (31 days) – Patek Phillipe seal
Estimate: CHF 400,000 – 500,000
More information on these four lots, and all the others, can be found here.
Created in 2005, Only Watch is a biennial fundraiser for research on muscular dystrophy – Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies (AMM). Organized under the patronage of HSH Albert II de Monaco, the watches of the 9th edition will be auctioned by Christie’s on Saturday, 6 November 2021. More details at www.onlywatch.com.