Can Only Watch Shatter $11 Million?

Luc Pettavino

One-of-a-kind collection kicks off global tour at Yacht Show ahead of Geneva auction.

In 1991, he founded the world’s most prestigious Yacht Show in Monaco and in 2005 the world’s first charity event in high horology, which
has since raised over $40 million for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Yet when it comes to basking in the glory of his successes, Luc Pettavino is far from the limelight. Instead, the Monaco-born resident claims he is neither a specialist in yachts nor watches, rather describing himself as the “conductor of an orchestra” who brings together a talented team of players to put on a show.

The 8th edition of the Only Watch biennial charity auction on November 9 promises to be a showstopper.

Taking place at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues in Geneva, under the hammer of Christie’s (who’ve volunteered their services for the second time) and again in the presence of Prince Albert, 50 lots of one-of-a-kind timepieces will be up for auction from mega-names and independents.

A first-time Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime in stainless steel is expected to go for much more than its estimated $2.5-$3 million, which includes a visit to the watchmaker’s workshop and a private lunch with the company president Thierry Stern.

Since the 2017 edition, Pettavino coupled watches with experiences, allowing Only Watch to broaden its international audience by adding a layer of lifestyle to the charity auction, beyond watch collectors or the usual contributors.

“We wanted to offer a moment that stays with you long after you’ve returned home,” says Pettavino, 56, “like spending time with Usain Bolt or Lionel Messi, enjoying a Formula One weekend with a racing team, or spending a night at Place Vendôme inside the Boucheron family home.”

Combining a “beautiful object with a beautiful moment” was a hit. The last edition of Only Watch raised more than $10 million.

Before heading to the November auction, the Only Watch collection will launch its 9-leg world tour from the Monaco Yacht Show on September 25-28 and then head to Christie’s salerooms and leading retailers in Dubai, Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei.

The auction costs only 1%, leaving the other 99% of funds raised to be entirely devoted to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research.

Pettavino’s son Paul was one of 3,000 boys born every year with the disease. Charming and fearless, Paul passed away in November 2016 just before his 21st birthday. “His light touched so many on his journey and his energy still drives this project,” says his father, who’s been president of the Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathie since 2003.

Time will tell whether the 2019 edition of Only Watch will smash its own record of $11 million, set four years ago.