For all luxury watch lovers, the Only Watch Auction is a paradise of the most exclusively designed collection ever to exist.
The bi-annual auction is a much-anticipated elite event where the most proficient horologists craft the never-seen-before watches. But the auction is so much more than the bling of the luxury watches.
The proceeds from the auction are distributed to incentivize the research for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare genetic disease.
However, the good cause seems to have an internal conflict with their finances, bordering on defraud.
On October 23, 2023, the organizers, Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM), announced that the 10th edition of the Only Watch, scheduled on November 5, 2023, in Geneva, is canceled. This decision ensued after the AMM was under suspicion of unaccounted distribution of around € 100 million in sales. Some reports suggest that only € 50 million of the proceeds have been forwarded to the charity. While most luxury houses pulled their affiliation from the auction, F.P. Journe extended unequivocal support to the organizers. However, the controversy has ignited a severe backlash.
Why Was the Only Watch Auction Postponed?
The controversy erupted on October 4, 2023, after a watch connoisseur, Santa Laura, posted a story on Instagram. Here are the key takeaways from the compilation of his stories and comments under Only Watch’s Instagram posts–
- First, Santa Laura asked for a copy of Only Watch’s annual financial audit.
- However, the organizers responded that they had filed it with the Monaco government; hence, it is unnecessary to present it publicly.
- This did not sit well with Laura, who further investigated the matter. He commented under one of Only Watch’s posts, asking for his donor information, what percentage of his donation goes to the cause, and where he can find audited statements.
- Another user, “@Zug_gal,” responded to Laura’s comment, stating that AMM had previously posted that 99% of the proceeds go to charity. However, they have since deleted that post.
This sparked rumors of malpractice and raised questions on transparency in charities when AMM did not respond to the basic requirements. As a result, an investigation was issued, which showed that only 50% of the proceeds from the sale were given to the research programs. Since it is still an ongoing investigation, these reports are not confirmed yet.
Due to the severity of the allegations, the organizers decided to postpone the Only Watch auction to 2024.
Only Watch organizers and distributors, AMM has since released a thorough statement addressing the controversy–
AMM, founded in 2001, has attached the financial statements for all the years and also revised certain clauses to maintain transparency. The first Only Watch auction was conducted in 2005.
F.P. Journe Controversy Explained
As the allegations surfaced, luxury watch brand Audemars Piquet suddenly pulled back from the auction on October 18 without any official statements. This added fuel to the fire, and more suspicions came to light.
Watch trade publication has been reporting consistently on the development of the case.
At the same time, the most prestigious watch brand in the auction, Patek Philippe, implied an indirect withdrawal from the auction since they have not revealed their exclusive collection yet.
Amidst the continual controversy of luxury brands disassociating with the auction, Francois Paul Journe, founder of the F.P. Journe watch brand, extended full support to AMM chairman Luc Pettavino with an Instagram post–
The renowned independent watchmaker also described Pettavino as a “remarkable man” while endorsing the good cause of donating to “medical charity that is necessary to save children.”
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for AMM stated that– “the time for certification, changes in governance, and the imminent auction do not coincide. We cannot bring ourselves to cast doubt on the sincerity of the commitment of all the parties involved in this project, nor can we allow this wonderful story to be rewritten.”
However, most watch lovers have criticized the movement for possible fraud.
What are your thoughts on this case? Do you think the charity organizers are involved in shady business? What is your take on transparency in charities?
Let us know in the comments section below.