Michael Thompson


This year more than sixty watchmakers have created timepieces for the Only Watch charity auction, which begins Sunday, November 5, in Geneva. Christie’s will auction these incredible one-of-a-kind watches to raise funds that benefit research in the battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

While you may have seen a few of the watches set for auction earlier this year when Only Watch announced them, we thought you’d enjoy seeing many of these impressive designs again just ahead of the event.

The watches are currently touring the globe. After concluding their U.S. visit at Christie’s in New York on September 17, the tour will visit Monaco next, followed by stops in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai and back in Geneva. See the Only Watch website for tour dates and details.

In this post we highlight the Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata, one of premier pieces in the auction this year. 

The watch displays time only on demand with a movement Manufactured by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, the calibre 525. Einstein’s famous mop of hair crafted in steel and extends beyond the 46.8mm steel case, with one particular lock being a disguised automata push-piece. When this push-piece is actuated, four animations spring to life on the dial.

Once the lock of hair is pushed, the forehead aperture display changes to show the hour. Then the atom model rotates, with one of its valence orbitals (a lacquered, pointed end) moves to the appropriate position on a 0–60 scale to provide the minutes.

Other automata includes the Monogram Flower eye that narrows its petals and the tongue that  extends fully. Even the power reserve is playful.

When the 100-hour power reserve dips low, the indicator transitions from LV to OW. E no longer equals LV². Instead, the letters are replaced with the initials of the Only Watch, a visual cue that prompts the wearer to wind the watch.

The Tambour Einstein Automata Only Watch 2023 marks the first time that grisaille enamel has been used in a Louis Vuitton timepiece. More than 50 hours of enameling went into Einstein’s face alone, with an additional 80 hours dedicated to the base dial in translucent black enamel with overlay of white enamel “chalk” scribbles.

Estimate: CHF 340,000 – 440,000.

TAG Heuer brightens up the dial of its legendary Monaco with the new Monaco Chronograph Night Driver, a 600-piece limited-edition titanium-cased Monaco with a fully luminescent dial.

The new TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Night Driver.

The watchmaker takes full advantage of the Monaco’s two-piece dial construction to create an impressive light show. Designers have added dark gray SuperLuminova to the circle at the center of the dial in order to contrast with the bright hour dots and the blue SuperLuminova hour, minute, and chronograph seconds hand. The dial even incudes brightened minute/seconds hash-marks.

TAG Heuer notes that it was inspired by the midnight blue, charcoal grey and matte black dials of vintage Monacos when designing this new model.

The outside portion of the dial becomes vivid blue at night as the black-lacquered indexes mark the hours. That same blue appears within the chronograph registers, again contrasting with the black minute and hour marks and their hands.

TAG Heuer adds that the wearer can expect the Monaco Chronograph Night Driver dial to retain its luminescence for three hours after being fully charged. 

Also new here is the use of titanium for a Monaco chronograph case. TAG Heuer coats the titanium in black DLC (diamond-like carbon) and finishes its nicely with a fine-brushed and polished finish.

Inside you’ll find TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 movement with a visible blued column wheel and an impressive eighty hours of power reserve. The watch’s sapphire caseback opens up a view of the blue printing on the black rotor and exhibits the blue column wheel.

TAG Heuer offers the Monaco Chronograph Night Driver Limited Edition as a limited edition of 600, each priced at $9,550.


Ulysse Nardin gives its Freak X a layer of military garb with the Freak [X OPS], which boasts a new khaki green carbon fiber case covering and a matching fabric strap.

The new Ulysse Nardin Freak [X OPS], pictured with khaki fabric strap.
The new hue and material are inspired by the irregular patterns of Damascus and nicely complement the Freak [X OPS]’s 43mm black titanium case, bezel and crown. A model with a black strap is also available.

As you might recall, the first series of Freak X models in 2019 were aimed at a new generation of Freak collectors with its somewhat simplified case and the addition of a crown to the formerly crown-free Freak. Ulysse Nardin refers to that original Freak X as “the easy-going Freak.”

Yet despite its pared down nature, the Freak X retained all the Freak’s primary characteristics, including movement bridges that double as hands.

With no dial, the watch’s one-hour orbital carousel tourbillon becomes the minute hand, and the hour hand is a pointer set on a rotating disc that sits under the movement.

Here, Ulysse Nardin coats the hour and minute indicators and hour markers in a matching khaki green SuperLuminova that glows green in low-light conditions. 

Ulysse Nardin has built the new Freak [X OPS] by combining that original Freak X design with the case covers, or flanks, that echo those found the 2020 Freak X Magma. But instead of the patterned red epoxy resin found on that model, this watch is created from carbon fiber and green epoxy resin. With the swirling resin mixture, each case will look marginally different.

Inside Ulysse Nardin fits its automatic UN-230 movement, itself a hybrid of the bedrock UN-118 and the high-tech UN-250 found in the Freak Vision. The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters. (See additional specifications below).

Price: $33,800.


Specifications: Ulysse Nardin Freak [X OPS]

(2303-270-2A-KAKI/0A (black strap) 2303-270-2A-KAKI/0B (green strap))

Movement and Functions:
Caliber UN-230 Manufacture automatic, flying carousel movement rotating around its own axis, balance wheel and escapement in silicon, oversized oscillator in silicon, black movement with indexes and bridges in khaki green Super-LumiNova, oscillations at 21,600 vph. Power reserve is 72 hours. 

Case:  43mm by 13.38mm black DLC titanium case and bezel, black DLC titanium caseback with transparent sapphire opening, khaki green carbon flanks in ‘Magma’, an original composite, blending black carbon fibers and green epoxy resin.

Strap: Khaki green fabric or black fabric strap (recycled fishing net), hook and loop fastener. 

Price: $33,800.

Balmont, a new France-based maker of affordable adventure watches, hits the road with two impressive models built with solid 40mm steel cases and plenty of panache.

Balmont’s BDX debut models.

With four different dial options, the watchmaker’s BDX series offers somewhat dressy dials that nonetheless front an automatic watch designed to confront darkness, heavy rain and multiple shocks.


Balmont fits each watch with an automatic Soprod P024 caliber tested to -7/+7 seconds per day and offering a 38-hour power reserve.

Framed with a stainless steel case water resistant to a full 200 meters, and capped with a large screw-down crown, the BDX offers a generous application of luminous material on the dial’s hands and markers, all protected by a sapphire crystal and a clear sapphire caseback.


And to underscore its adventure-focused mission, Balmont provides a second strap (nylon) with each watch, which arrives on a leather strap.

Balmont offers its BDX with a choice of a ceramic-coated black, silver, slate or white dial, each priced at $715.

Limited Model

In addition to its ongoing BDX series, Balmont supercharges its debuts the LAX001, a special model offered as a limited edition of 100 pieces. As its name implies (LAX is the Los Angeles airport code) the Balmont LAX001 features a classic so-called California dial that mixes Arabic and Roman markers, all of which glow brightly with SuperLumiNova BGW9 and C3.

The LAX001 retains the same technical specifications as the BDX, but comes on a cognac-colored Italian suede strap to more closely align with its California dive-model references. The supplied second strap is black nylon.

The watch’s dial is also sportier than the dial of the BDX with railroad track markers just inside the bezel and a glowing marker triangle rather than the brand’s logo at 12 o’clock.

Interestingly, the limited edition LAX001 also retains the same $715 price tag as the ongoing BDX model. I suspect the watch will quickly sell out after its September release date.

Citizen expands its Promaster collection with the new Promaster Land Altichron,  a 46.7mm titanium-cased adventure watch with a built-in electronic compass and altitude sensor.

The new Citizen Promaster Land Altichron.

With a blue dial and large, luminous hands, the new watch is easy to read thanks in part to its analog displays, which replace the usual liquid-crystal displays found on many traditional quartz-powered adventure watches.

The watch’s altitude sensor will note altitude up to 10,000 meters (more than 32,800 feet) above sea level and 300 meters (nearly 985 feet) below sea level. Citizen’s design here cleverly displays all the watch’s data, including time, altitude, direction and date, on the dial simultaneously.

Citizen builds the case using its own Super Titanium, which is treated with two high-tech protection materials known as Duratect MRK and Duratect DLC. Protection against the elements is further enhanced with a thick spherical sapphire crystal and a highly durable nylon strap.

As with all Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster watches, this newest model is light-powered, which eliminates the need to regularly change a battery. 

To celebrate the new watch, Citizen has enlisted champion climber and climate activist Will Gadd to ‘Team Promaster.’ As a brand ambassador, Gadd will be sharing his personal accounts as he travels the globe to raise awareness for the environmental protection of mountains.

Citizen’s latest ambassador Will Gadd, sporting the new Promaster Land Altichron.

“The fundamental measurements of my world are time, altitude and direction.,” Gadd says. “The Promaster Land Altichron gives me all of these in a rock-solid package. This relationship is new, but the values aren’t.” 

Two New Promasters 

Citizen is also adding two new Promaster Tough models to the collection, each with one-piece 41mm Super Titanium cases and a matching triple-link bracelet.

The Citizen Promaster Tough, with a 41mm Super Titanium case.

These Eco-Drive models are water resistant to 200 meters and are available in two dial options: black (BN0241-59H) and green (BN0241-59W), each featuring luminous hands and markers and a date display.

The green-dialed version of the new Citizen Promaster Tough.

Prices: $995 (Altichron) and $575 (Promaster Tough).