There have been eight editions of Only Watch, and in the watch community, its story has grown to the stuff of legend. Every two years, the Christie’s-led auction has a unique energy, where the world’s elite watch collectors not only gather to get their hands on some of the most special timepieces available anywhere, but to do so for a greater cause—someday curing muscular dystrophy.
“I don’t say partners with Only Watch. We only have friends. All of us are Only Watch,” says Luc Pettavino, Founder and Organiser of Only Watch. Add one of the world’s most recognisable names to the people who are Only Watch—Lionel Messi.
The world’s top watch brands have gone all-in on Only Watch, creating one-of-a-kind pieces that aim to be in the top tier of even the best collections.
Messi partnered with Jacob Arabo, founder of Jacob & Co to produce something spectacular, as Arabo puts it, producing a unique watch that pairs horology and extraordinary gemsetting with an exclusive experience. “One of the reasons for the collaboration with Jacob & Co. was precisely to work on social projects.
Congratulations and thank you to Only Watch for giving us the opportunity to auction a watch from the Jacob & Messi limited edition collection to combat such a sad illness ad Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” says Messi himself.
As Pettavino puts it, “This is a personal history transformed into a universal story.” Pettavino’s four-year-old child was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a very severe disease for which there is still no cure. Though shaken, Pettavino did not want to sit back and do nothing—something had to be done. “I asked myself very quickly, what could I do to be part of the solution? Sometimes each of us has skills in our lives, we know our limits, and we challenge ourselves.
For me, I said that I didn’t want to be a victim of this situation, I wanted to contribute, and be part of the solution. What could I do? My skill is to be sort of a pollenating bee. I had the idea of Only Watch, and slowly, I made calls and inquired,” says Pettavino.
What was the idea? “The idea was very simple. For me, the best projects are the ones that you could explain in 30 seconds and a sevenyear-old could get the idea. The pitch
was—what about creating a new watch, no contract, and everything would be given to research? There’s no cost to this project—I live off my own money, and everyone is giving their contributions for free.
It’s something simple and demanding at the same time. But it was beautiful,” says Pettavino. Soon, major partners such as HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco were on board, who holds Only Watch under his high patronage. “Only Watch is a one of a kind charity project which combines innovation and the guiding principle of creating beauty to do good.
These two extremely precious values— creativity and generosity—are deeply enrooted in our Monegasque culture. Doig good in this case means putting all of our efforts to support scientific research to find a cure to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that is, to this day, incurable and affects one boy over 3,000 male births,” says HSH Prince Albert III.
“This situation can change, thanks to the work of dozens of scientists around the world, some of whom I have had the opportunity to meet and that have humbled me by sharing with me their life devotion to one of the most meaningful causes,” HSH Prince Albert II continues.
Pettavino says the only way to get people to join the Only Watch project was to appeal to the better angels of their nature in a positive way. “We all are noble. We have a part of us ready to help. But can you find the key to unlock this part? Do you feel safe to lower our barrier to contribute? That’s what I tried to achieve with 50 CEOs of these brands about this project.
You just connect—not judge, not guilt, not playing a victim, or telling people what they have to do. If you do that, you’re stuck in a prison—you won’t give. I framed it differently and tried to do something positive. You have to measure what contribution you ask for in life.
We have so many obligation, if you come and add an extra weight in people’s lives, then they say that’s a beautiful project but it’s too much,” says Pettavino. Pettavino reached out to the top watchmakers in the world, who have each contributed unique pieces for the show, some of the most coveted in the world.
40 million dollars has been raised cumulatively, all given to research. Pettavino walks WEALTH Arabia through the process. “For me, it’s simple. We collect money due to the generosity thanks to all the contributors. What we do is just carry the money to research.
It should be based on the same type of energy, transferred from one to another. We got the biggest possible network of scientists and researchers, and we asked them, what are your needs? What do you need to move forward to find a cure one day? Where are we in terms of academic, fundamental, or applied research? Once we understood their needs, we followed them, supported them and funded their projects.
Now we’re getting so close to something working that we have had to create two start-ups in biotechs, one in chemistry and one in biology, because we’re getting close to a cure, and getting close to clinical trials. We did this in the same way that we worked with the watchmakers— it’s light, efficient, and lets people be free,” says Pettavino.
“No one has found a solution to neuromuscular diseases in human history, but I believe that this approach will show very quickly incredible results, and we will be part of the solution thanks to us all.” The Only Watch auction will be held on 9 November in Geneva by Christie’s. “Thans in advance to the people who will be on the watch. It will be a pleasure to meet the final buyer,” says Messi.