For watch fans, the collector and limited editions and watch types are a big attraction. And for every common watch model worth a few thousand, there seems to be a limited edition of a few hundred made ten times from even more precious metals and with a little additional logo that is suitable for those who are part of a small selected one must be a group.
Limited Editions mark many things. For companies such as Panerai, they are a way of retaining exclusivity and keeping the demand for a product beyond the capacity of production. For most, limited editions are a way of marking a special occasion, such as an anniversary. For every watch company that celebrates its 50th, 100th, 150th, 175th, or any of the many other significant, round number birthdays, there will be a limited edition watch to match it.
Editions of 500, 1,000, and other such denominations are most common, although you might get 175 watches for the 175th anniversary. Usually, however, round numbers are preferred by watch companies, as these are neater to engrave on dial, case, or box.
The other major type of limited edition watch is that which promotes an association with an event, or connection with something not related directly to watches. So, for example, there are many special edition watches that commemorate associations with charities, such as IWC‘s recent sponsorship of David de Rothschild and the Plastiki’s voyage across the pacific to raise awareness of the amount of litter in the world’s oceans. 1,000 special IWC Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth Edition “Adventure Ecology” watches were released, with ocean-blue dials and straps.
Other associations are less directly charitable. Tissot last year released a special edition Moto GP watch to celebrate their association with the motorcycle racing championship, and Omega’s status as the ‘James Bond Watch’ has been celebrated in special editions for several of the more recent films.
Omega has also released special edition watches to mark the 40th anniversary of the Lunar Landings, which its Speedmaster was present for in the role of Moonwatch.
These, however, exclusive though they might appear to the average watch fan, are all comparatively ordinary when faced with the collection of ‘Only Watches’ that are currently being unveiled by every major watch manufacturer in the world.
Omega, Blancpain, Cartier, Patek Philippe, and Girard Perregaux are among those to have unveiled utterly unique watches recently, which will be placed in a biennial charity auction to raise money for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a condition that causes progressive muscular weakness finally resulting in respiratory and cardiac problems which can become fatal. It affects one in every 3,500 boys, and currently, there are around 30,000 people affected in Europe alone.
The Only Watch auction features watches that are either unique or the first of a limited edition. There is no reserve price on any of the watches, but given the Haute clientele, this is not an auction that is known for its bargains. All the money raised is donated to Monegasque Association against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (AMM) and is an excellent display of how luxury watches can use their expertise to cause echoes for good to reverberate around the world.