I applaud the 54 watch brands who’ve created one-off timepieces for the Only Watch auction. Hats off to charity founder Luc Pettavino, whose teenage son died of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The event will raise tens of millions of dollars for DMD research, with only a fraction diverted for expenses. We good? So, TUDOR Only Watch fail. Actually, let’s start with Rolex . . .
Where’s Rolex’s contribution to the cause? Missing in action. The 800-pound gorilla in the Swiss watchmaking world – the brand that accounts for more market share than any three other Swiss watch brands combined – hasn’t created a one-off Rollie for the Only Watch charity.
Don’t get me wrong: Rolex is a force for good. The Foundation that owns Rolex donates a significant proportion of its multi-billion dollar profits to a wide range of people and groups working to protect the environment, advance scientific research, support the arts and preserve cultural heritage. No Swiss watchmaker does more.
Perhaps the Rolex Foundation prefers to do good on the [relative] DL. Less charitably, maybe Rolex doesn’t want to be seen fraternizing with the Swiss watch fraternity. To be seen as “just another watch brand.” Either way, fair enough. Rolex has earned the right to keep their good works in-house.
So what up with the TUDOR Only Watch? Here’s the official description of Rolex’s baby brother’s entry for the charity auction:
For Only Watch 2021, TUDOR has created a unique Black Bay GMT with a striking case and bracelet finish that is the result of a secret stainless-steel ageing technique.
The MT5652 Manufacture Calibre powering this unique watch, capable of keeping track of time in three time zones simultaneously, also received an aesthetic treatment to match the case in style that required the bridges and mainplate to be coated in black before being aged by barrel tumbling.
In short, the TUDOR Only Watch is a standard-issued Black Bay GMT that looks like it’s gone to rack and ruin after years of neglect.
Huh? You might even say the TUDOR Only Watch is the antithesis of a desirable one-off watch. No wonder Christie’s estimates it’ll hammer for something around $4400 to $8700. Just so you know, a brand new, gleaming Black Bay GMT retails for $4050.
Is that the best TUDOR can do? Absolutely not.
Unlike Rolex, TUDOR doesn’t have a straight jacket constraining their “house style.” The Glamour Double Date, for example, is hardly recognizable as a TUDOR. Equally, the brand is free to experiment with new materials; the Pelagos Chronometer Black Dial Titanium is the first Rolex family watch that uses the material. The Tudor Black Bay Ceramic was also first of its kind in da house.
TUDOR has the skills, imagination and creative license to create something truly unique. Instead, they donated an unappealing and let’s-face-it lazy retread of an existing design. Clocking the rest of the entries . . .
Patek Philippe deserves a Bronx cheer for donating a go-for-baroque desk clock – a horological happening that invites comparisons to both HoDinkee’s travel clock and Cogsworth. All the other watchmakers donating to the Only Watch charity have devised singular timepieces that will raise big bucks for a worthwhile charity while burnishing their makers’ reputations.
TUDOR – and thus Rolex – phoned it in, denying both TUDOR brand fans and a well-run charity a reason to be cheerful. Again, Rolex is the dictionary definition of a charitable corporation. But they should have instructed TUDOR to push the boat out. Instead, the company’s contribution will sink without a trace.
It’s about time Out of Order watches (“Destroyed in Italy”) got some competition in the stone-washed distressed metals department!
Tudor has never gone big on these Only Watch offerings. They generally preview new variations to regular production models. What stands out about this year’s Tudor offering is that Tudor is clearly out of ideas. Black bezel? Done. Bronze? Done. Ceramic? Done.
Now what? An “aged” stainless steel watch that looks like a severely abused PVD coated stainless steel watch? No thanks. That said, this version could go for a lot of money and a volume commercialized version might sell. But not to me.
The thing looks like shit. But, I’d be surprised if Tudor doesn’t bid the price up to, and beyond, 10K.